(RNS) After a lengthy battle, a San Francisco lesbian is a step closer to being ordained as a clergywoman in the Presbyterian Church (USA).
The Presbytery of San Francisco voted Tuesday (Nov. 10) to permit the ordination of Lisa Larges, 46, after she stated under a “scruple”
policy that she objects to the PCUSA’s rules preventing ordination of gays.
Ministerial candidates in the PCUSA are required to be in faithful heterosexual marriages or remain celibate, but gay activists say there have been gay ordinations that have gone unchallenged.
The vote permitting her ordination — 156-138, according to the San Francisco Chronicle — is expected to be appealed. The presbytery also voted to validate her role as ministry coordinator of That All May Freely Serve, a San Francisco-based group that advocates for full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the PCUSA.
Larges, a deacon at a San Francisco church who has been seeking ordination for half her life, said Wednesday that she considers the ordination vote to be a step forward.
“The times are changing and change is hard and change is especially hard for churches,” she said. “But it’s bringing us to something better and greater and that is the simple value of fairness.”
The Presbyterian Coalition, an organization that opposes gay ordination, said San Francisco Presbytery’s move was illegal.
“We believe that what San Francisco Presbytery did was unconstitutional, and we expect to see the error corrected,” said Sarah Hill, coordinator of the Richmond, Va.-based coalition. “The presbytery cannot ordain the candidate until the legal process is complete.”
Jack Haberer, editor-in-chief of The Presbyterian Outlook and a member of the task force that developed the “scruple” policy, said the presbytery has taken an incremental step.
“There’s already been enough signatories to a petition to stay the ordination itself,” he said. “That could take a year to 18 months to work through the church courts.”
By Adelle M. Banks
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