As Presbyterian Church begins gay policy vote, top leader denounces conservative activists

Posted: Friday, November 09, 2001

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) -- As local units of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) begin months of voting on whether to repeal a ban on actively homosexual clergy and lay officers, the denomination's titular head has denounced conservative activists.

The Rev. Jack Rogers, this year's Presbyterian moderator and a retired San Francisco Theological Seminary administrator, addressed 350 members of the pro-repeal Covenant Network of Presbyterians. The anti-repeal Presbyterian Coalition drew triple that turnout last month.

Rogers said militant conservatives ''want to tear down the church'' or impose a ''dictatorship.''

His main targets were the Presbyterian Lay Committee and the Confessing Church Movement it is promoting.

The 1,063 ''Confessing'' congregations, with 353,000 members, want Presbyterians to profess that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation, the Bible is the ''only infallible rule of faith and life,'' and heterosexual marriage is the only context for sexual activity.

To Rogers, that ''rigidly worded'' creed intends ''to say that some people are excluded from God's grace.''

Meanwhile, conservatives in California's Redwoods Presbytery failed to prevent the October ordination of the openly lesbian Katie Morrison to the ministry of field organizing for More Light Presbyterians, a gay and lesbian advocacy group.


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