Magazine article The Christian Century

Presbytery Ordains Lesbian. (News)

Magazine article The Christian Century

Presbytery Ordains Lesbian. (News)

Article excerpt

A NORTHERN California presbytery has ordained Katie Morrison, an openly lesbian candidate, to the ministry in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Though conservative objections fell short of blocking the legal procedures leading to the October 21 service in San Anselmo, the step is likely to spark further controversy in the battle-scarred denomination.

More Light Presbyterians, a pro-gay advocacy group that put Morrison on its payroll officially in September as a national field organizer, said the rites were the first for an openly lesbian minister since the denomination banned in 1978 the ordination of "practicing, self-affirming homosexuals."

Morrison has said she will abide by the PCUSA's constitutional requirement that unmarried clergy be "chaste"--a requirement that would be dropped if a constitutional amendment is approved in coming months by a majority of presbyteries voting on the proposed change. However, whether the word "chastity" means simply virtuous and modest or entails celibacy and sexual abstinence has been a matter of contention in at least one case under adjudication in the PCUSA.

Morrison did refer last June in Louisville, Kentucky, to her "partner" who was seeking a ministerial call in the United Church of Christ, which permits homosexual pastors. Morrison made the remark while joining other Presbyterians applauding the General Assembly's 317-208 recommendation to drop the chastity rule and other rulings that have barred practicing gay and lesbian candidates as clergy, elders or deacons.

Morrison was unavailable for comment. But More Light Presbyterians quoted her in a news release as "thrilled about this wonderful opportunity" for official ministry. "Where the world closes a door, God opens a window for more light to break through," she said. Morrison has sought ordination since earning an M.Div. degree from San Francisco Theological Seminary in 1997. …

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