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Presbyterians elect pro-gay pastor to top spot

Presbyterians elect pro-gay pastor to top spot

Presbyterians have chosen as one of their top officers a female pastor who believes in ordaining gays and lesbians and appointing them as church officers. But the Reverend Susan R. Andrews said she will not push the issue at the 215th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), which runs through May 31. "She flat out declared she was for it this evening, but she doesn't believe the church is ready for that and won't push for it this year," said church spokesman Jerry Van Marter. "She believes it would be counterproductive." Andrews, who is pastor of Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Md., was politically and theologically the most liberal of the three candidates for the post, Van Marter said. She was elected Saturday by a majority after a second ballot. Some Presbyterians want to repeal the 1997 provision in the church's constitution that prohibits noncelibate gays from being ordained as clergy, elders, deacons, and offices held by laypeople. Some church members oppose ordination of gays on scriptural grounds, but others believe it's unchristian to exclude people based on their sexual orientation and think division over the issue is just part of the church's evolution. A fresh round of debate on the subject is expected at this year's annual convention.

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