Blackhawk Presbytery is located in Illinois, a state where same-sex marriage is legal. It is also a member of the Presbyterian Church (USA) which, during its 221 General Assembly this summer, passed an Authoritative Interpretation that allows pastors in states where same-sex marriage is legal to perform such ceremonies.
At its Nov. 11 meeting held at Stronghold Camp and Retreat Center in Oregon, Ill., the presbytery voted to approve the following:
“Acknowledging same-sex nuptials are legal in Illinois and the PCUSA affords discretion to its teaching elders by the authoritative interpretation of the 221st General Assembly to preside or not preside at such rituals + ceremonies = rites and particular churches may host or not host such ordinances upon session approval subject to the review of higher judicatories, Blackhawk Presbytery will honor the consciences of teaching elders and particular churches within its bounds; noting its members are divided among those who embrace the authoritative interpretation as witness to progressive theology and those who reject it according to traditional Christianity. Presiding/participating teaching elders and hosting churches may exercise their consciences as permitted by the authoritative interpretation. No efforts to force teaching elders and sessions who decline to preside/participate/host will be encouraged, enabled, or condoned. Those who embrace and those who decline do not need to fear ministerial infringements or vocational reprisals in Blackhawk Presbytery.”
PCUSA presbyteries are in the process of voting on a constitutional amendment — referred to as 14-F — that would change the definition of marriage from between “a man and a woman” to between “two people.” As of Nov. 8, two presbyteries have voted for the change and three have voted against it. For approval, the amendment must receive a majority vote of the PCUSA’s 171 presbyteries — a total of 86 votes.