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Posts for August, 2010

Yes, you violated our stupid anti-gospel rulebook

Timothy Kincaid

August 27th, 2010

Jane Spahr is in trouble again. A lesbian Presbyterian Church (USA) minister in Northern California, she has for years been dancing on the very edge of the church’s policy towards gay couples.

In 2006 she was convicted in church court for celebrating gay unions, but in April of 2008 the church’s highest court decided that as she had not actually quite broken church rules because the ceremonies she celebrated were not marriages.

But then along came the California Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage. And what do you suppose Jane went and did?

Yep, you guessed it. She conducted legal same-sex marriages.

So now again the regional court has found Spahr guilty of breaking the rules. (AP)

A regional commission of the Presbyterian Church (USA) ruled 4-2 that the Rev. Jane Spahr of San Francisco “persisted in a pattern or practice of disobedience” by performing the weddings in 2008 before Proposition 8 banned the unions in the state.

But while they found her “guilty”, they made it perfectly clear that they supported her guilt.

At the same time, however, the tribunal devoted most of its 2 1/2-page ruling to praising the 68-year-old pastor, a lesbian who founded a church group in the early 1990s for gay Presbyterians.

Spahr was acknowledged “for her prophetic ministry” and “faithful compassion. The commissioners called on the broader church to use her example “to re-examine our own fear and ignorance.”

“In the reality in which we live today, marriage can be between same gender as well as opposite gender persons, and we, as a church, need to be able to respond to this reality as Dr. Jane Spahr has done with faithfulness and compassion,” the ruling stated.

The tribunal gave her a “reprimand”, the church equivalent of “Naughty girl, Jane, shame on you. Would you like a lollipop?” Because while they condemned her breaking of the policy, their real criticism was toward the policy itself. (LA Times)

“In addition, we call upon the church to reexamine our own fear and ignorance that continues to reject the inclusiveness of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” the decision said. “We say this believing that we have in our own Book of Order conflicting and even contradictory rules and regulations that are against the gospel.”

Spahr will appeal the verdict. The PC(USA) may well be next in the line of mainline churches who are finding ways for their congregations to honor the same-sex couples in their midst. And until they are fully inclusive, Jane will be there prodding them on.