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Presbyterian Church rules that retired minister violated ordination vows when she married same-sex couples

A Presbyterian church court in Napa ruled Friday that a retired minister violated the faith’s constitution and her ordination vows by marrying more than a dozen same-sex couples when gay marriage was legal in California.

But the panel voted unanimously that the Rev. Dr. Jane Adams Spahr’s actions did not disrupt the “peace, unity and purity of the church,” and its two-page decision commended the 68-year-old lesbian minister for her “compassion” and her ministry to gays and lesbians.

“In addition, we call upon the church to reexamine our own fear and ignorance that continues to reject the inclusiveness of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” the decision said. “We say this believing that we have in our own Book of Order conflicting and even contradictory rules and regulations that are against the gospel.”

Spahr's attorney said she would appeal the decision.

Immediately after the decision was read in the fellowship hall of Covenant Presbyterian Church where the four-day trial was held, Spahr huddled with her defense team and the tearful couples who had testified about their love and commitment.

“It has been my greatest honor to have married you,” Spahr told them. “I just love you so much. We know as oppressive systems change, they need people who are as magnificent as you are. We are changing a wrong here, a terrible injustice. We are doing it.”

Although the Presbyterian constitution defines marriage as “a civil contract between a woman and a man,” Spahr’s defense team repeatedly emphasized this week that it holds no explicit prohibition on same-sex marriage. The panel disagreed.

--Maria L. LaGanga in Napa

Comments () | Archives (20)

If you don't believe what your church believes, find another church OR -- as is so popular these days -- make up your own.

It is too bad that the panel did not support the minister in her officiating same sex marriages. However, even the panel all said that these marriages did not disrupt the purity of the church. That is the point. Whether gays marry or not should not matter to the churches. It does not negatively affect them.

Their own Book of Order has conflicting and even contradictory rules and regulations? How can that be? God is a God of peace, not disorder. Any orginization that claims to follow the bible cannot have contradictions in their rules and regulations and claim to be Christian.

Good to know this hate group is allowed to promote its bigotry even further.

I can see they are doing Jesus' work, each and every day.

Bet they rebuked preachers back in the 60's for performing interracial marriages

Is this the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Presbyterian Church in America, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, the Reformed Presbyterian Church, or any of the other denominations? There are major ideological discrepancies between denominations.

I don't think anyone can stop same-sex marriages from occurring. Society will find a way; the problem is whether Society will tolerate it.

True, Michael-all churches were made up at one time or another so one more doesnt really make a difference!

Logically, if there is a God, He only cares that we treat one another with love and respect. All the silly rules about cutting your hair, eating shellfish, magic underwear, praying to the sun-all man made and silly.

Most polls show religion dying in the west-some day when it dies, God's real plan for the world-equality and love for all-will be fulfilled.

It is a sad commentary on what the Word of God has come to these days. It is no longer about the Scriptures but about people.... and God is no respecter of man.

No more moderation. This moderation allows you to select only what you want to be heard: Censorship.

I will not respond any longer to ANY of these stories where my own voice is not heard or is "moderated".

Moderators, How long will you sit on the fence?

I don't think that gays are all about treating each other with love and respect and anyway there is more to life than that. There is the procreation of our species and our physical and mental health that we have to be concerned about and gay marriage is a serious threat to that on several levels.

Busted for affirming love between two people. How dare she?

mankind loves religious behavior, just look at all the variety, and yet at the same time mankind hates doing what God says is right

The Day of Reckoning is coming for all those who support gay marriages and tolerate homosexuality and lesbianism. The bible is very clear on this subject. God condemns all homosexuality and lesbianism. He will destroy them all on the day of judgement. We need to follow what the bible says and live accordingly. Enough Said!

What patent nonsense! An institution founded on myth holds no more credibility or authority than what people give it. All the participants are playing roles in a comedy.

I am certainly relieved that her actions did not disturb " the peace , unity , and purity of the church " . Are these people serious ...PALEEZ !!!

Assuming Jesus actually existed, he would be wanting his religion back right now......

It's the PC(USA).
We almost got the Book of Order changed just weeks ago. Now we have to wait 2 more years for the next General Assembly.

"I don't think anyone can stop same-sex marriages from occurring. Society will find a way; the problem is whether Society will tolerate it."

What does this mean? HOW are you going to POSSIBLY know if two people of the same sex are even married unless you attended the wedding? Wedding rings could mean they are straight and married to other people. And how could it possibly affect you?

This is yet MORE bigotry put forth by the Mormon and Catholic Churches and it is ALL LIES. This will NOT in any way affect society in a detrimental way, EXCEPT for the fact your taxes will go down as all those "sinning" gay couples will be paying a marriage tax.

@ Norman - how do you know what God only cares about? Read his instruction manual - the book. There it will be clear.

The Bible does NOT contradict itself. It is shocking that this religons "Book of Order", that is supposed to be BASED on the Bible does, though. If you think that the Bible condradicts itself, prove it using a bible that is truly a translation and NOT a version. Post this comment LA Times, I dare you.


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