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Presbyterian Pastors: OK to Disagree, Not Defy

September 07, 2002|From Times Wire Reports

Presbyterian pastors have a right to disagree with church policy but not to openly defy it, the leader of the Presbyterian Church USA warned in a letter to local church officials.

The Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, stated clerk of the 2.5-million-member denomination, told leaders of regional presbyteries they must handle seriously those pastors engaged in "irregularity or delinquency. The process must be honored if the integrity of the judicial system is to be maintained," he wrote.

The letter came just weeks after a Cincinnati church and two churches in New York said they intend to openly defy a church law that prohibits the ordination of gay and lesbian pastors, according to Presbyterian News Service.

The Rev. Stephen Van Kuiken, pastor of Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati, had said:

"Following our precious legacy of religious liberty, with care and concern for gay and lesbian members and their families, and out of devotion to God that I experience in Jesus, I must simply echo the words of [16th century Protestant reformer] Martin Luther: 'Here I stand; I can do no other.' "

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