Pro-gay church takes a stand

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com October 26 2002 12:00 AM ET

Presbyterians unhappy with their denomination's attitude toward gay men and lesbians plan to use the best-known symbol of the Reformation on Sunday by nailing their demands to the door of a church. The door of South Presbyterian Church in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., will then be removed and used as a Communion table for a worship service at which hundreds of progressive Presbyterians will demonstrate support for gay ordination and gay marriage. The church in Dobbs Ferry has been actively dissenting for years from the teaching of the 2.6-million-member Presbyterian Church (USA). Its pastors' openness about conducting same-sex union ceremonies led to a national Presbyterian church trial, which ended with the denomination's highest court concluding in 2000 that such ceremonies are acceptable if different from traditional marriages.

South Presbyterian Church recently declared, however, that it would no longer distinguish between straight and gay marriages. Additionally, it has promised to ignore a prohibition against ordaining sexually active gays and lesbians. The Reverend Joseph Gilmore, senior pastor at South Church, told The [White Plains] Journal News, "We want a church reformed to move as close as possible to the hospitality of God, which means that no one, no one, can be excluded." The service is being sponsored by progressive groups from three of the most liberal regions of Presbyterian Church (USA): New York's Hudson Valley, New York City, and New England. In 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the doors of the Wittenberg Church in Germany, leading to the Protestant Reformation.