Lisa Larges Approved for Ordination, But
On Tuesday, the San Francisco Presbytery voted to approve Lisa Larges for ordination and to validate her leadership of That All May Freely Serve. This merits both a muted hazzah and a long moment of deep prayer. For 23 years Lisa has remained steadfast in her sense of call to ordained ministry in the PCUSA while the church held her in limbo as a Candidate Under Care because she had the integrity to share openly that she is lesbian.
Lisa could have gone elsewhere to serve in professional ministry. Some GLBT Presbyterians have walked away when the PCUSA has thwarted their clear sense of call from God to use their gifts in ministry. The church suffers from the loss of their energy, intelligence, imagination and love.
Taking a different path, Lisa persisted in the PCUSA because, as she told me during her visit a month ago, it was not hers to do the work of the church. If the church discerned that she should not serve in ordained ministry in the PCUSA, it was the responsibility of the church to explain and enact that denial. The outcome was years in which Lisa was left in limbo, no action either way, waiting.
Year after year Lisa remained a Candidate Under Care, keeping in touch with the Committee on Preparation for Ministry and being her engaging self with every person she encountered along the way. And slowly, slowly the church changed regarding the place of GLBT people within it, largely because of courageous GLBT Presbyterians, like Lisa, willing to be fully themselves in the church.
This change has not yet been enacted jn the rules of the church; G-6.0106b, requiring GLBT candidates for ordained office to be celibate, remains in The Book of Order. But with this vote, San Francisco Presbytery has publicly accepted Lisa’s “scruple,” her statement that she cannot in good conscience comply with G-6.0106b, and her argument that this departure is “not an essential of Reformed faith and polity.” This has opened the door for Lisa, almost.
Almost, because it looks very likely that members of San Francisco Presbytery who oppose ordination of GLBT faithful will challenge presbytery approval of her call. So the dialogue shifts once more into the judicial commissions of the PCUSA, where the arguments will be made, the reasons given and decisions will be reached. And Lisa, who clearly knows how to wait upon God, will wait a little longer. This opportunity for a final decision, the product of Lisa’s amazing faithfulness in responding to God’s call, drives me to long, deep, heartfelt prayer.
The decision on the part of the presbytery is worthy of a muted hazzah. My celebration of the presbytery’s decision has to be muted because we continue to place extra burdens on GLBT candidates not required of others. This vote was a great step forward for Lisa and the PCUSA — hazzah — but how much further there is to go! So please join me in earnest, pleading prayer for Lisa and for our church.