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Presbyterian Church votes in favor of gay clergy

Gays and lesbians can now be ordained as leaders in Presbyterian churches across the country, according to a church amendment approved last week.

In a meeting held Tuesday, May 10, the Presbytery of Twin Cities Area became the 87th presbytery to approve the amendment that will remove the church's constitutional requirement that all ministers, elders and deacons live in "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a women."

Woodbury's Trinity Presbyterian Church was among the 173-church majority voting in favor of the change, Pastor Gary Hanson said.

"While polls over the past several years have indicated a growing shift in Presbyterians' views, the church can't be driven by popular opinion but rather by prayerful submissions," he wrote in a statement.

The statement, which will be sent to the congregation, explained the vote may now consider ordaining a minister regardless of sexual orientation.

Hanson said Trinity has been known for its openness and welcoming community, but acknowledged amendment of the clause may cause some members or even full congregations to leave Presbyterian churches.

The vote came one day before the Minnesota Senate voted to approve a ballot measure asking voters to amend the state constitution to define traditional marriage between a man and a woman. The question could go to voters if House members also approve the measure.

The Presbyterian Church joins Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), which voted in 2009 to allow gays and lesbians who are in monogamous relationships to serve as clergy.

That vote split congregations across the country, and Woodbury's King of Kings and other churches suspended financial support for the ELCA.

Hanson said it's obvious that people are deeply divided over the issue and he recognizes that Trinity's denomination is now more inclusive.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.