Final 08-B vote supports ‘fidelity-chastity’
The Layman, June 2, 2009
Suroeste (Southwest) Presbytery in Puerto Rico added its “no” to the Amendment 08-B tally Saturday, making the final results 78 for and 95 against removing the “fidelity-chastity” requirement from the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s constitution.
It was the last vote in a referendum that began at the 2008 General Assembly. Midwest Hanmi was the only presbytery that didn’t cast a vote, which counts officially as a “no.”
Suroeste’s vote was no surprise as all three presbyteries in the Synod of Puerto Rico opposed changing the G-6.0106b standard. Polling by ballot, all 41 of Suroeste’s votes were “no.” The presbyteries of San Juan and Noroeste (Northwest) also stood with the fidelity-chastity standard with voice votes against Amendment 08-B. All three presbyteries have been consistent in their voting on the last five referendums dealing with sexual ethics within the denomination.
The simple majority of 87 presbyteries was reached in late April, but opponents of the standard had their most successful campaign to date coming up nine presbyteries short of a victory and rallying support in traditionally conservative areas, such as the South. Thirty-four presbyteries switched their votes from no to yes since the 2001 vote on the standard, two switched from yes to no and three presbyteries tied, which count as a “no,” according to The Layman’s vote chart.
Led mainly by proponents of gay ordination, the effort would have reworded The Book of Order so that it would no longer require church leaders to observe fidelity in marriage between one man and one woman or remain chaste in singleness. A decades-long issue in PCUSA, the debate will heat up again next year with Northside Presbyterian Church’s proposed overture to amend the denomination’s constitution that would allow the ordaining of “anyone in the denomination whom God has called, regardless of sexual orientation.”
The new proposed overture will go to the Presbytery of Detroit for action. If approved, it will be sent to the PCUSA’s 219th General Assembly for action at its Minneapolis, Minn., meeting in 2010. If approved by the General Assembly, the amendment would require approval from a majority of the 173 presbyteries to be ratified.