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The church and its current policies:

The Canadian Census reports that the Presbyterian Church in Canada has a membership of 636,000 members which puts them at a tie with the Lutherans, exceeded in membership only by the Roman Catholic, United, Anglican and Baptist Churches.

In recent years, the Church's General Assembly has passed statements that homosexual behavior is not acceptable to Christians because sexual intercourse should only take place between married persons, who of course must be heterosexuals. The most recent affirmation of this stance was taken in 1994 when the church adopted its report on human sexuality. But the church does not have a specific policy which forbids lesbian or gay clergy.

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Darryl MacDonald, Lachine Quebec

Darryl MacDonald is an openly gay candidate for the ministry who is involved in a monogamous, committed relationship. He has been a lifelong member of the church and graduated from its Presbyterian College in Montreal. After working as a supply minister and in street ministry for the St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Lachine, Quebec, he was asked to become their minister. At this point, he revealed that he is gay, and in a committed partnership. He asked that the congregation review their decision. They did reconsider and affirmed their choice. He is supported by 90% of the congregation. In 1995-APR, the Presbytery of Montreal authorized his ordination, after a lively meeting which saw many procedural twists and jumps.

13 members of the Presbytery appealed the ruling to the Church's General Assembly. There was concern that conflict over homosexual ordination could seriously split the church, as has happened to the United Church of Canada in recent years. The Assembly created a special 9 person committee to investigate. The committee report recommended that the decision to call Mr. Macdonald be overruled, and that his ordination should proceed only if he terminates his committed relationship and remains celibate. A sizable minority (4/9) of the committee members disagreed with some of the report's conclusions because:
bullet The congregation at St. Andrews had overwhelmingly decided to accept Mr. Macdonald as their minister, knowing that he is gay.
bullet the church has no specific policy against gay clergy.

The committee's report was presented to the General Assembly in Charlottetown, PEI on 1996-JUN-10. They accepted the nullification recommendation of the committee. They also voted 10 to 1 to have the Presbytery of Montreal re-examine his Certification for the Ministry. This was the document that had permitted Mr. Macdonald to work as an interim minister.

The Presbyterian Church of Canada gave the congregants of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church several directives to remove their minister; the congregation has been threatened with expulsion by the denomination. They had two choices: obey the church's directives or withdraw from the denomination. They withdrew; it is no longer a Presbyterian church. A service was held to bless the ministry of Darryl Macdonald. He continues to serve the congregation.

Copyright 1996 to 2000 incl.
Latest update: 2000-MAR-31
Author: B.A. Robinson

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