America

Largest U.S. Presbyterian Denomination OKs Marrying Gay Couples

The Rev. Paul Mowry leads a Sunday service at Sausalito Presbyterian Church in Sausalito, Calif. Mowry was one of the church's first openly gay pastors. i i

The Rev. Paul Mowry leads a Sunday service at Sausalito Presbyterian Church in Sausalito, Calif. Mowry was one of the church's first openly gay pastors. Noah Berger/Reuters/Landov hide caption

itoggle caption Noah Berger/Reuters/Landov
The Rev. Paul Mowry leads a Sunday service at Sausalito Presbyterian Church in Sausalito, Calif. Mowry was one of the church's first openly gay pastors.

The Rev. Paul Mowry leads a Sunday service at Sausalito Presbyterian Church in Sausalito, Calif. Mowry was one of the church's first openly gay pastors.

Noah Berger/Reuters/Landov

The nation's largest Presbyterian denomination has voted to allow its pastors to perform same-sex marriages in states where such unions are legal.

The top legislative body of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted at its 221st General Assembly in Detroit to change the way it defines Christian marriage in its constitution from "a man and a woman" to "two people."

USA Today says, "At the group's last biennial convention in Pittsburgh in 2012, a similar proposal was narrowly defeated."

Even so, according to The Associated Press, "In 2011, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) eliminated barriers to ordaining clergy with same-sex partners."

However, conservative Presbyterians "are concerned that approving same-sex marriage could further accelerate the decline of the Presbyterian Church, which has seen a 37 percent decrease in membership since 1992, a drop of more than 1 million, from 2.78 million to 1.76 million last year," The Detroit Free Press says:

"And some at the convention expressed concern it could affect the perception of Presbyterian missionaries in more conservative parts of the world where the church works, such as in the Middle East. There are 315 Presbyterian churches in Egypt alone."

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