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PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH REJECTS INCLUSIVENESS (1997)

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86 Presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church (USA) have voted in favor of Amendment B, also called the Fidelity and Chastity Amendment which restricts eligibility for ordination to those who pass a very strict sexual code. This achieves a simple majority.

Rev. Laurene Lafontaine, co-moderator of the Presbyterians for Lesbian and Gay Concerns issued the following statement on 1997-MAR-19, titled Presbyterians Denounce the Passage of Amendment B".

"It is truly a sad and tragic moment in our church's history," responded Rev. Laurene Lafontaine, co moderator for Presbyterians for Lesbian and Gay Concerns after learning of the passage of Amendment B to the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s governance. "The leadership of PLGC, More Light Churches Network and "That All May Freely Serve" strongly denounce the passage of Amendment B. We are deeply disappointed and outraged that our denomination has chosen to make gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Presbyterians second class members. Amendment B not only affects gays and lesbians, it affects everyone in the local church including single and divorced persons, who desire to serve God by the imposing of a purity code, unheard of since the Middle Ages."

Amendment B, commonly known as the Fidelity and Chastity Amendment, received the required simple majority of 86 of the denomination's 171 Presbyteries yesterday. It puts into place a purity and ethical code which lifts up the repentance of so called sexual sins, among others, as a benchmark for one's service within the Presbyterian Church (USA). Amendment B, deemed to be unconstitutional and theologically problematic by many scholars and leaders within the denomination, is headed for certain judicial challenge.

"This denomination is split on how to respond to its own gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender members, deacons, elders and clergy. The mere fact that the recorded popular vote is nearly 50 50 tells us that this Church is surely not of one mind. For this very reason, we are hopeful. We know that this is a justice movement, not unlike the movement for women's ordination or the movement to reverse attitudes about slavery within the last hundred and fifty years in our denomination's history. We trust that God's call to each person, particularly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons, will eventually be honored and celebrated. This travesty of discrimination will not thwart the Spirit of God. Those of us who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender will continue to serve God faithfully, and yes, this church.

We encourage those Presbyteries who have not yet voted on Amendment B to be a strong prophetic witness for justice by voting 'no.' We affirm the Reformed tradition of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and God's Spirit moving among us. To that end, we trust that Amendment B will be rejected by the courts of the denomination." concluded Rev. Lafontaine.

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