From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
GAY AND LESBIAN PRESBYTERIANS MULL COMMUNION BOYCOTT
05 May 1996 13:05:03
95176 GAY AND LESBIAN PRESBYTERIANS MULL COMMUNION BOYCOTT
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
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
* quietly stand up and leave when Communion is served, or
* come forward and stand with their backs to the table when Communion
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 PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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