The Presbyterian Church on Sunday became the largest Christian denomination to ordain openly gay clergy, as a measure takes effect that will allow gay men and women in same-sex relationships to become ministers.
The new policy goes into effect today after the church’s assembly and 97 of the denomination’s 173 presbyteries approved the change to the church’s constitution on May 10, to allow the ordination of gays as ministers, elders and deacons.
The move represents a major change in the history of the 2.8 million-member Presbyterian denomination.
The new policy will change the actual language in the church constitution, which actually banned homosexuals from serving as church ministers, elders and deacons. Presbyteries voted to delete the constitutional requirement for clergy to live “in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness.”
“It allows each presbytery, or regional governing body, to decide what sexual standards to place on ordination,” according to the church’s official press release.
The Episcopalian Church and several other denominations already ordain openly gay clergy, but the Presbyterian Church is by far the largest.