Hope Amidst the Disappointment: Pittsburgh’s Vote on Ordination
In the special meeting on March 14, 2009, Pittsburgh Presbytery voted 206 to 105 against Amendment 08-B to revise the ordination requirements to emphasize obedience to Jesus’s teaching and example as illustrated for us in Scripture. This would open the door to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people to ordination in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
I am struggling for hope amidst my disappointment that every effort to allow for meaningful reflection together was quashed by the majority of the presbytery. A motion to break the presbytery into smaller groups for a time so that many had a chance to share with some their views and experience was defeated. A motion to provide for one longer, more complex, statement of the pro and con positions on Amendment 08-B was defeated. A motion to extend beyond twenty minutes the two minute pro and con statements was defeated.
So only 9 people were able to speak, five For and four Against. There were twice as many people still standing at the microphones to speak when debate was cut off.
And the people who did speak witnessed mightily to our need for a deeper conversation. An impassioned father from Fox Chapel Church spoke of his gay son who has found the love of his life but who feels no welcome from the church where he grew up. A teary father from Lebanon Church shared that his son died of AIDS and he “knows his son is in hell.” Our Reformed heritage tells us that talking together is the best way to bridge this gap among us.
There was no joy in this church gathering. The feeling at the end among the majority appeared to be relief. Still, I know many will feel the shame of ending early. There was time for more to be said. We will confess our cowardice some day.
Among those who so yearn for reconciliation in Christ between the church and GLBT faithful, there was shocked despair and anger. Some were glad that we worked hard to expand the conversation and grateful for those who did speak eloquently for full inclusion of GLBT people in the church. May all these feelings fuel our efforts to continue to work for the dialogue, which is the only avenue to a better day.