United Church of Christ votes to endorse gay marriage
The United Church of Christ's rule-making body voted overwhelmingly yesterday to endorse same-sex marriage, making it the largest Christian...
The Associated Press
ATLANTA — The United Church of Christ's rule-making body voted overwhelmingly yesterday to endorse same-sex marriage, making it the largest Christian denomination to do so.
The vote is not binding on individual churches, but could cause some congregations to leave the fold.
Roughly 80 percent of the representatives on the church's 884-member General Synod voted to approve the resolution yesterday, a day after a smaller committee recommended it.
The resolution calls on member churches of the liberal denomination of 1.3 million people to consider wedding policies "that do not discriminate against couples based on gender." It also asks churches to consider supporting legislation granting equal marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples and to work against laws banning gay marriage.
The Rev. John Thomas, president of the United Church of Christ, said that with the vote on Independence Day, the rule-making body "acted courageously to declare freedom."
A small group of conservative congregations had proposed an alternative resolution defining marriage as between a man and a woman, and suggested that supporting gay marriage could lead to the church's collapse.
"Great consternation" over decision
The Rev. Brett Becker, who represents a group of the UCC's more conservative churches, said it's possible his congregation at St. Paul United Church of Christ in Cibolo, Texas, will leave the church over the resolution.
"I would like to see us stay in the denomination and network for positive change," Becker said. "However, many of my members have expressed very clearly that this decision would cause great consternation and that, if this happened, they would want to see us leave."
UCC leaders said individual churches have not been polled about their views.
Formed in 1957 and traditionally strong in New England, the United Church of Christ has a tradition of support for gays and lesbians. It is distinct from the more conservative Churches of Christ, which has about 2 million members in the U.S.
The UCC was criticized last year for its TV advertising campaign featuring a gay couple, among others, being excluded from a church. CBS and NBC rejected the 30-second ads.
In the early 1970s, the UCC became the first major Christian church to ordain an openly gay minister. The church declared itself "open and affirming" of gays and lesbians 20 years ago.
Gays are "spiritual people"
"This is a significant moment," said the Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, of Cleveland, coordinator of a church coalition addressing gay and lesbian issues. She said the decision emphasizes that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are "spiritual people who love and are loved by God."
But Becker said he doesn't think yesterday's vote was representative of the wishes of most church members.
"If we had put it to a vote of the people in the pews, it would have failed overwhelmingly," he said. "This is truly Independence Day for the UCC: We have declared ourselves independent from the teachings of Jesus and the clear teachings of Scripture."
UCC churches are autonomous, meaning the General Synod does not create policy for its more than 5,700 congregations.
No hard data exist on how many gays and lesbians are in the UCC.
Voelkel said about 2,000 people are on her group's mailing list and about 1,000 clergy or seminarians are gay. The denomination has 10,323 ordained ministers.
Sam and Sara Lucchese create handmade pasta out of their kitchen-garage adjacent to their Ballard home. Here, they illustrate the final steps in making pappardelle pasta.
(The Associated Press) Fuel rules get support A Consumer Federation of America survey conducted in April found that a large majority of Americans R...
Post a comment