Friday, January 18, 2008

Lisa Larges' Ordination Pathway Cleared

Although I have never met this woman personally, I have followed her journey online and in Presbyterian history. I'm celebrating with/for her this week as I've been reading the news reports such as this one from the San Jose Mercury News...


San Jose Mercury News
By Rebecca Rosen Lum

Article Launched: 01/16/2008 02:57:34 AM PST

A gay woman seeking ordination as a Presbyterian minister might achieve her
longtime goal before foes can appeal a decision supporting her quest.

After 21/2 hours of debate Tuesday night, the San Francisco Presbytery
skirted the denomination's rules, voting 167 to 151 to consider Lisa Larges
for the ministry.

Although an appeal could delay a final decision by at least 18 months,
Larges could be ordained in her home church, San Francisco's Noe Valley
Ministry, before opponents can act.

Tuesday's debate drew record attendance for the presbytery, which meets six
times a year.

"I didn't used to think about my ordination because I didn't think we'd get
here, but I'm ready to go for it," she said after the debate and vote at
Richmond's First Presbyterian Church.

The decision filled her with joy, she said. "I am deeply, deeply grateful,"
said Larges, 44, who directs That All May Freely Serve, a national
organization the supports and advocates for gay Presbyterian clergy.

Others were not joyous.

"What has happened here tonight has violated the constitution of the
Presbyterian Church USA," said the Rev. Mary Holder Naegeli, a Walnut Creek
minister and a member of the presbytery's committee on preparation for the

The Rev. Mark Stryker, associate pastor of Moraga Valley Presbyterian
Church, said the bid to advance her ordination was a disruptive move.

Her advocates spoke of values above sectarian rules and of Larges' personal

"I believe in the full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered
people," said Charles Mann, an elder from Ocean Avenue Presbyterian Church
in San Francisco. "God looks at the heart, not at the race, the gender, the
sexual orientation." The Rev. Will McGarvey, pastor of Community Presbyterian Church in Pittsburg, spoke to the delegates of "her wit, her humor, her joyful way of
being with and for people."

A committee report effusively praised Larges.

"We rarely see people so gifted," it says. "Lisa has proven through her
life in ministry that she is a beautiful demonstration of the Christian

Opponents said they were disappointed and surprised by the close vote, and
predicted a nationwide backlash.

The question before the delegates was whether to ignore the denomination's
long-standing position that candidates for ordination must be married to
someone of the opposite gender or be single and chaste.

In 2006, the denomination's General Assembly affirmed its support for the
dictum but permitted local ordaining bodies to make exceptions.

Larges must now submit to an intensive oral exam.

Larges has tread this ground before. After she graduated from seminary
school in 1989, a Minnesota committee certified her ready to seek a call.
Her appeal of the objection went to the national church court but was
ultimately rejected.

Presbyteries in New York, New Jersey, Wisconsin and Northern California
have actively gay ordained ministers, said Richard Lindsay, a spokesman for
That All May Freely Serve.

The San Francisco Presbytery encompasses San Francisco, Contra Costa,
Alameda and San Mateo counties.

Rebecca Rosen Lum covers religion. Reach her at rrosenlum@bayareanewsgroup.