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St. Andrew's on The Terrace shocked by decision

Media Statement: Presbyterian Church Decision

St. Andrew's on The Terrace shocked at Presbyterian ban on gay, lesbian and de facto leadership

St. Andrew's on The Terrace along with other progressive Presbyterian congregations is shocked but defiant in the face of the news today that the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church ratified its ban on gay and lesbian leadership in the church.

With the ratification of "Motion 69" the Assembly has confirmed its rejection not only of gay and lesbian people, but also of people living in de facto relationships, as being eligible to become ministers or elders.

"This decision is an aberration," says Parish Council Convenor Douglas Wood, "and it flies in the face of sound modern understanding of the teachings of the Christian faith. Many good and faithful Presbyterian Christians will be labelled as unfit to lead based on an arbitrary ruling about their marital status or sexuality."

He adds that, "Our own parish leadership team and that of many parishes in Aotearoa NZ include members who under this new rule are now suddenly declared as unwanted in leadership." The parish sees the rule as contrary to the spirit of a modern Christian sexual ethic which recognises that the qualities of love, faithfulness and mutuality are to be encouraged and strived after in all forms of relationship.

"It is an embarrassment for the Church that the General Assembly should come to such an unjust decision," says St. Andrew's Associate Minister Paul Barber. "The struggles facing gay and lesbian Christians as well as Christians in de facto relationships within the church have many parallels with the struggle of women and Maori to achieve justice and equal recognition within the church. This motion of General Assembly is not faithful to the gospel message of love, justice and reconciliation as found in the scriptures."

The decision of this year's Presbyterian General Assembly confirmed a motion that was passed at the previous Assembly in 2004. The rule that now comes into effect will prohibit the licensing, ordination or induction of gay and lesbian people and people living in de facto relationships into leadership positions in the church.

The people of St. Andrews on The Terrace, along with a number of parishes, have re-stated their intention to continue to select leaders on the basis of their gifts, skills and commitment to a shared vision as a worshipping community. Douglas Wood refers to the parish's decision in 1991 when St. Andrew's declared itself to be an open and inclusive parish, welcoming all to be part of the life of the faith community, regardless of race, creed, class or sexual orientation. "Inclusiveness is of vital importance in the mission of our faith community" he says, "We do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or marital status."


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