A regional body of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (PCUSA) has ruled in support of same-sex unions, as well as the candidacy of noncelibate homosexuals for ordination.

At two separate hearings in New Jersey, the Permanent Judicial Commission of PCUSA's Northeast Synod upheld homosexual participation in religious ceremonies and offices. The commission ruled 8-2 in favor of the South Presbyterian Church of Dobbs Ferry, New York, continuing to offer "holy union" ceremonies to homosexuals. Proponents of holy unions argued that a union is not the same as a marriage between a man and a woman, and therefore not forbidden by the Presbyterian Book of Order.

Committee members D. Dean Weaver and Craig C. Kerewich said in their dissenting opinion that "the blessing of such an activity by a Minister of Word and Sacrament would be unconstitutional and against the policies of the [PCUSA]" because "homosexual practice is a sin."

The commission also ruled 8-1 in favor of allowing Graham Van Keuren, a noncelibate homosexual seeking to become a minister, to be received as a candidate, the church office that precedes ordination. Clifton Kirpatrick, who oversees the judicial commission, said it was important to view these rulings "as decisions of a regional body, not PCUSA as a whole."

The decisions are likely to be appealed to the denomination's General Assembly.

Related Elsewhere

The South Presbyterian Church site has nothing on the controversy. In fact, the only item on its "current news" area from April, about the church beginning its summer schedule.

The PCUSA site also has nothing obvious about the decision.

However, you can read the entire text of the decision at the site run by the Hudson River Presbytery, to which South Presbyterian belongs.

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