Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Presbyterian Leaders Regret Past Actions of Church toward Gays

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Presbyterian Leaders Regret Past Actions of Church toward Gays

Article excerpt

The top legislative body of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on Friday approved a statement of "deep regret" over a history of marginalizing gays and other sexual minorities while also lamenting the loss of members who left the denomination over its eventual approval of ordaining and marrying gay people.

The church's biennial General Assembly, meeting this week in Portland, Ore., also approved a measure late Thursday that was proposed by the Pittsburgh Presbytery to "take specific action, not just in word, but also in deed, to address and improve the worsening plight of the African American male."

That measure, advocated by the Rev. Eugene Blackwell, a Pittsburgh pastor, cites challenges to black men in areas ranging from discrimination, to violence, to disadvantages in housing, health and employment.

"I'm elated," Rev. Blackwell, pastor of House of Manna Faith Community in Homewood, said Friday. He said it shows the church recognizes this as a "crisis of our nation, not just one community." In the coming months, he and others plan to work out specifics for the program, which calls for pilot projects in Pittsburgh and four other cities.

The statement of regret approved by the assembly Friday "acknowledges that actions we and our members have taken over the years have at times led God's beloved children who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning to feel that they stand outside the grace of God and are unwelcome in the PC (USA)."

The statement was changed from an outright apology as originally proposed by the Presbytery of New York City. It reflects the decades of front-burner debate over their status in the denomination, which had long resisted calls for ordaining non-celibate gay people. The denomination ultimately opened ordination to members regardless of sexual orientation in 2011, and it changed its definition of marriage in 2015 to encompass any two people, not just heterosexual couples.

The final version of the statement continues: "We deeply regret that, due to human failings, any person might find cause to doubt being loved by God. …

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