Presbyterian Church Votes to Allow Pastors to Perform Same-Sex Marriages


 A news conference will be held on Friday morning at Vance Memorial Presbyterian Church in Wheeling after the governing body of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted Thursday afternoon to permit its pastors to perform same-sex marriages.

The Commissioners to the General Assembly voted 371-238 to adopt an Authoritative Interpretation of the denomination's Constitution that would immediately give pastors the discretion to officiate at same-sex weddings in states that allow same-sex marriages.

Currently, West Virginia and Ohio do not permit same-sex marriages.

Commissioners also voted 429-175 to ask its member presbyteries to ratify a change in the definition of marriage from the traditional "one man and one woman" to "two people, traditionally between a man and a woman."

If approved over the next year by 87 of the 172 presbyteries, the amendment would make the changes in the Directory for Worship, which is part of the Constitution of the denomination.

That new definition would allow pastors in states that allow same-sex marriages to officiate at same-sex weddings, but would not require them to do so. Individual churches would also not be required to host same-sex weddings.

Rev. Frank Lewis, Stated Clerk of the presbytery said Thursday, "the changes approved today by our General Assembly will have no immediate effect upon the Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery, its pastors, its elders or its members."

Rev. David Demarest, part of the presbytery's Administrative Team, said "we know that these decisions by our general assembly will bring joy to many members of our Presbytery, and sorrow to many others."

Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery is made up of about 6,700 members in 83 congregations. The Friday news conference is set for 9:00 a.m.

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