Presbyterian panel opens window for gays

Local congregations and gay clergy
A special panel has urged the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to maintain its ban on noncelibate gay clergy, but the panel also wants local congregations to determine when to apply—or bypass—that standard.

The 20-member task force, which has spent four years studying divisions over homosexuality, said the church should retain its 1997 standards that call for church officers to maintain “fidelity . . . in marriage” or “chastity in singleness.”

At the same time, the Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church said local churches “have the duty to apply standards and the right to discern which are essential for ordained service.” The 173 presbyteries, or local church bodies, conceivably could determine that a minister’s sexual orientation and activity is a “nonessential” factor in his or her acceptability, according to many church analysts.


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