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court: Gay clergy ban applies to ministry candidates

court: Gay clergy ban applies to ministry candidates

The U.S. Presbyterian Church's ban on ordaining gays who aren't celibate also extends to candidates for ministry, the denomination's high court said.

The Permanent Judicial Commission took up the issue in the case of a lesbian who was allowed to become a candidate for ministry in the Mission Presbytery in Texas even though she said she was in a same-sex relationship.

The moderator of the Texas governing body had said at the time that the requirement of chastity for unmarried clergy did not apply to those entering the candidacy process. The presbytery then voted to support the woman's candidacy, moving her closer to ordination.

The following year, she withdrew her name from the roll of candidates. But the Judicial Commission said in a May 7 statement that it was still concerned that leaders of the Mission Presbytery had misread the denomination's governing Book of Order and therefore ''misled'' those who voted on the woman's candidacy.

Like many Protestant groups, the Presbyterian Church has been debating for years how it should interpret Scripture on gay relationships and other issues. Congregants who support full inclusion of gays and lesbians in the church have tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to challenge the ban. (AP)

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