From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 13:05:03


                          by Alexa Smith 
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--Little consensus exists among gay and lesbian 
Presbyterians about whether or not to refuse Communion at the opening 
worship of the General Assembly.  
     Presbyterian Act-Up (PAU) is urging people to do so as a protest 
against denominational policy prohibiting ordination of practicing gays and 
     "It's an act of civil disobedience to say  How can we all gather at 
the table when not all are welcome at the table?'" said the Rev. Lisa Bove 
of North Hollywood, Calif., co-moderator of PAU, who insisted the plan does 
not include disrupting Communion. 
     "Communion is already disrupted," she said, citing the irony of an 
"open" table when ordination is closed to gay and lesbian members. 
     Presbyterian Act-Up is one of three organizations within the 
denomination -- along with Presbyterians for Lesbian & Gay Concerns and the 
More Light Network -- created to advocate for full participation of gays 
and lesbians in the life of the church.   
     It was organized by Bove and the Rev. Howard Warren of Indianapolis 
after the 1991 Assembly, when the denomination voted not to adopt a 
commissioned human sexuality report.  It has no formal membership list. 
     Presbyterian Act-Up, Bove admits, does "push the limits a little bit. 
 ...  Not everybody is into this type of witness ... and I can certainly 
appreciate that." 
     Warren told the Presbyterian News Service the protest will be a quiet 
one.  He suggested that protestors: 
     * stand and turn their backs to the Communion table and fail to pass 
the tray 
     * quietly stand up and leave when Communion is served, or 
     * come forward and stand with their backs to the table when Communion 
is served. 
     While acknowledging that some gays and lesbians -- and some 
heterosexuals who advocate ordination of homosexuals -- disagree with 
Act-Up's strategy, Warren is adamant that anger and grief do have a place 
at the Communion table.  He said Jesus brought to his table people left out 
of the wider church -- and he overturned the money changers' tables inside 
the temple itself. 
     Quoting Matthew 5:23, Bove said peace is to be made among brothers and 
sisters before coming to the table -- and refusing Communion thus has a 
theological base.  "There is so much division," she said, even about how 
presbyteries are conducting, or not conducting, dialogue. 
     Other activists for ordination of gays and lesbians have empathy for 
the arguments made by PAU, but also say the  Presbyterian gay community is 
not of one mind about this protest. 
     "I respect people who make decisions out of a sense of conscience," 
said Scott Anderson, a member of the executive board of Presbyterians for 
Lesbian & Gay Concerns (PLGC), who intends to receive Communion at the 
     The Rev. Laurene Lafontaine of Denver -- co-moderator of PLGC -- 
agrees.  "A number of us, ... including myself, [will] participate [in 
Communion]," she said, insisting that Presbyterian polity does not 
determine who comes to God's table.   
     "This is God's table ... and Jesus [extends] the invitation.  And that 
has a higher authority," Lafontaine said, adding that she understands those 
who participate as expressing the pain and the hurt they feel. Of the 
diverse response to PAU's call, she said, "God alone is Lord of the 
     Warren says PAU has "no idea" how many people will participate. 
     Representatives of the More Light Network -- the Rev. Richard Lundy of 
Wayzeta, Minn., and Virginia Davidson of Rochester, N.Y. -- said the 
Network's steering committee, representing 65 sessions, has no stance on 
the boycott.  Members of the Network's churches, they say, will have a 
variety of personal opinions. 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
  E-mail   Web page: 


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