By: Mary Robb Jackson

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Allowing the ordination of women shook up the Presbyterian Church a few years ago, but now comes a vote that would allow for the possibility of gay clergy.

These are interesting times we live in for many church-goers.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been wrestling with the issue of the ordination of gay clergy for a number of years. Now comes a watershed moment in the history of Presbyterians.

The church voted Tuesday night to change the wording in their constitution – allowing deacons, elders or ministers to be ordained regardless of sexual orientation or marital status.

“There certainly has already been a significant number of folks that have indicated that this opening is something that they are very distressed about it,” said Rev. Dr. Sheldon Sorge, of the Pittsburgh Presbytery.

However, Rev. Sorge believes that most will wait and see.

“We don’t see anyone lining up to leave at this point,” he said.

While the change no longer restricts who can be ordained, it is not a mandate.

“So, local congregations or Presbyterys can ordain as they see fit with regard to that particular issue,” said Rev. Sorge.

In East Liberty, the spires of the East Liberty Presbyterian Church are visible a couple of blocks away on Highland Avenue from the Eastminster Presbyterian Church, but the two are miles apart on this issue.

East Liberty Presbyterian Pastor Randy Bush is pleased with the vote.

“We feel that lots of people have gifts from God for service and ministry, and they should be able to use those gifts,” he said.

At more conservative Eastminster, all people are welcome to worship but they will continue to draw the line at ordaining those of different sexual orientations.

Pastor Paul Roberts says right now they have an option.

“So, in the future, they’ll make decisions saying churches like Eastminster can no longer say we’re not going to ordain – you have to ordain – then this is a sad day,” said Pastor Roberts.

In more recent years, at least a hundred more conservative congregations left the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.); with the changes, it’s unclear how many others might join them.

Presbyterian Church U.S.A.
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