Synod PJC okays gay marriage
|Synod of Covenant decision
permitting same-sex marriages will stand
GA PJC refuses to hear appeal
From Stephen Van Kuiken
May 17, 2004 [posted here 5-19-04]
The highest court of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has concluded that there
can be no appeal of the controversial decision of the Permanent Judicial
Commission of the Synod of the Covenant. The decision that the Constitution
of the PC (USA) does not prohibit same-sex marriages, consequently, shall
Personally, I would have welcomed the chance to carry this to the General
Assembly's PJC. However, by forcing me to resign, the Cincinnati Presbytery
rendered any appeal moot. When the Presbytery threatened to kick me out for
working with our new congregation, I had no choice.
Now, at least within Ohio and Michigan, there is no need to pretend that
same-sex ceremonies are merely platonic "holy unions." Being free of this
soul-damaging pretense is a blessing. And nationwide, including
Massachusetts, Presbyterians have a strong precedent for the freedom to do
same-sex marriages in the church.
an Associated Press report, the effect of Tuesday's dismissal on future
cases within the church is not immediately clear.
Laurie Griffith, Manager for Judicial Process and Social
Witness in the Office of the General Assembly, said the PJC dismissed the
case on the grounds that Van Kuiken, has left the denomination, and thus the
case is moot. This, she said, leaves the ruling with no effect beyond the
parties involved in the Van Kuiken case.
Scroll down for background stories.
|The Rev. Steve Van Kuiken moves on
Following the decision by the Permanent Judicial
Commission of the Synod of the Covenant, essentially vindicating his
assertion the he rightly officiated at gay marriages, the Rev. Steve Van
Kuiken has sent word that he has now been granted "privilege of call"
status by the Southwest Ohio Northern Kentucky Association of the United
Church of Christ.
From: Stephen Van Kuiken
May 7, 2004
I am pleased to announce that the Southwest Ohio Northern Kentucky
Association of the United Church of Christ has granted "privilege of call"
status to me at their May 1st meeting. Should I now accept a call
from a UCC congregation, I would then become a UCC minister. I am honored by
this acceptance and affirmation, and I am grateful for the love and support
from so many UCC members.
I deeply appreciate the remarkable work of David Montgomery, a Manhattan
attorney who served as my counsel in the appeal that led to the historic
Synod decision in the Presbyterian Church (USA). David''s skill and
generosity made it possible. I also thank Doug Duckett, who helped me
The Synod decision means that my former colleagues in the PC (USA) can do
same-sex marriages without fear, openly celebrating the equality and the
love of gay and lesbian persons. There is no need to pretend to do platonic
"holy unions." This is our gift to the denomination.
Stephen Van Kuiken
|Synod PJC declares that
PC(USA) constitution does not prohibit gay marriage
Reverses presbytery in
Van Kuiken case
For a history
and analysis of this very important case, take a look at a careful
examination by Paul Peterson, Minister of Outreach and Education for
That All May Freely Serve - Michigan
On April 30, 2004, the Permanent Judicial
Commission of the Synod of the Covenant (Ohio and Michigan) of the
Presbyterian Church (USA) ruled that the Constitution does not prohibit
same-sex marriages and that "the decision of the Permanent Judicial
Commission of the Presbytery of Cincinnati is reversed and the rebuke of
Rev. Van Kuiken is removed."
On May 3, Van Kuiken issued a press
statement expressing his gratitude for the vindication of his stand, while
asserting that he still believes he must resign his ordination in the PC(USA)
in order to continue to serve the new congregation, The Gathering, that
formed in the wake of presbytery actions against him.
Steve Van Kuiken
May 3, 2004
On Friday, April 30, 2004, the
Permanent Judicial Commission of the Synod of the Covenant (Ohio and
Michigan) of the Presbyterian Church (USA) ruled that the Constitution does
not prohibit same-sex marriages and that "the decision of the Permanent
Judicial Commission of the Presbytery of Cincinnati is reversed and the
rebuke of Rev. Van Kuiken is removed." (The
text of the decision is on the Synod website.) I am very grateful to the
members of the commission for the courage they have shown in reaching this
A new era has dawned in the Presbyterian
Church, a day for which we have waited and hoped. We are making room at the
table of Christ both for our gay brothers and lesbian sisters as well as for
those with progressive Christian convictions. This is truly good news for
However, it is with great sadness that I
have decided to resign as a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). The
Cincinnati Presbytery has left me little choice.
When I was unfairly removed from office and
terminated from my position of Pastor at Mount Auburn Presbyterian Church, a
group formed a new congregation called The Gathering. This group includes
former members of the Mount Auburn Church that, with love and support, have
stood by my family and me.
Members of The Gathering have, themselves,
been greatly traumatized. They have been suddenly uprooted from their church
home by the Presbytery's actions. And now, instead of responding with
compassion, this same Presbytery has ordered me not to serve them in
leadership. The Presbytery of Cincinnati has forced me to choose between
being a Presbyterian minister and serving The Gathering. I choose to stand
by The Gathering, as they have stood by me.
Some have asked why I am leaving the PC
(USA) if I won the appeal. The truth is I was hanging on as long as possible
to stay in the denomination to see this appeal to a conclusion. The
Presbytery of Cincinnati's ultimatum to me (see below) is a threat that is
independent from the appeal. This has never been about me. This appeal was
for the cause and for my successors. It is satisfying to go out with a
stunning victory, however.
The following motion was adopted at the
Presbytery Meeting of January 10, 2004. I was officially notified of this by
registered mail in March and consulted in April.
(The Presbytery of Cincinnati, Minutes of
January 10, 2004) "DISAPPROVED the relationship and work in any form of
the Rev. A. Stephen Van Kuiken with the Gathering, a group composed
primarily of current and former members of Mt. Auburn Presbyterian that
refers to itself as a congregation and meets weekly for fellowship and
worship at Old St. George's on Calhoun Street in Cincinnati. Changes in
the group's name, its membership, its self-description, its frequency or
purpose for meeting, its meeting location, or any other variable will not
affect the presbytery's disapproval of the Rev. Van Kuiken's relationship
or work with it. Further, direct the Committee on Ministry or its
designated representatives to notify and consult with the Rev. Van Kuiken
about this matter. If, after notification and consultation the Rev. Van
Kuiken persists, the presbytery will presume that he has renounced
jurisdiction of the church."
Steve Van Kuiken
ratified (or not) by the presbyteries
A number of the most important actions of the 219th
General Assembly are now being sent to the presbyteries for their
action, to confirm or reject them as amendments to the PC(USA) Book
We're providing resources to help inform the
reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.
Our three areas of primary interest are:
which would remove the current ban on
lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as
possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.|
which would add the Belhar Confession to our Book of
10-1, which would adopt the new Form of Government
that was approved by the Assembly. |
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