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(RNS) A San Francisco woman’s quest to overturn a ban on non-celibate gay and lesbian clergy in the Presbyterian Church (USA) was denied on a technicality by a regional church court.
Lisa Larges, 45, declared a conscientious objection to denominational standards that require celibacy for gay and lesbian clergy.
On Wednesday (March 25) the Permanent Judicial Commission of the Synod of the Pacific ruled that the San Francisco Presbytery erred when it voted to certify Larges as ready to be examined for ministry, with a “departure” or conscientious objection.
The denomination’s highest court and General Assembly, its lawmaking body, have issued contradictory decisions about whether such objections are allowed.
The synod court ruled that the presbytery was premature in considering Larges’ objection, saying it should be considered later, during the examination, when clergy candidates’ theology and suitability for ministry are tested.
“The examination for ordination is the proper time for (the) Presbytery to determine whether or not a candidate’s departure constitutes a failure to adhere to the essentials of Reformed faith and polity,” the court said.
Larges, who has been battling the church’s clergy policy since 1986, said “This decision makes it abundantly clear that the Presbyterian church must remove the current prohibitory language that denies ordination to openly LGBT people and adopt a new policy.”
The PC(USA)’s 173 local presbyteries are currently voting on whether to scrap the ban on partnered gay clergy, a measure that requires approval from a majority to pass. To date, 81 presbyteries have voted against it, according to a Presbyterian gay rights group.
By Daniel Burke
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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