Thursday, October 02, 2008

Trial Update from Pittsburgh

The Rev. Janet Edwards is being tried by the Presbyterian judicial system for performing gay wedding. Here is the update of the first day of the trial yesterday from the More Light website...

Trial Update: Marriage Performed By Rev. Edwards Is Within the Bounds of Scripture and Tradition

Wednesday, October 01 2008 @ 03:44 PM
This was the message of the first day of Rev. Janet Edwards' trial here in Pittsburgh. PJC member Joan Henderson said in her opening prayer, "We pray for church leaders with the courage of prophets, the empathy of priests, and the persistence of pilgrims." Apt words for a leader like Janet.

The charges against Rev. Edwards allege that she both violated Scripture and acted in defiance of the Constitution. The charges cite eight Biblical passages that she allegedly violated, although they provide no context.

The proceedings opened with motions by the prosecution to close the proceedings to the public, and to postpone the proceedings until a later time. Both were denied by the PJC. The prosecution also asked to be able to present most of their witnesses tomorrow, and so the day was given over mostly to questioning of the witnesses for Dr. Edwards, with only very minimal cross-examination by the prosecution.

First, witness John Matta, former stated clerk of Pittsburgh Presbytery, gave some background about a conversation he had with Rev. Edwards about a hypothetical same-sex wedding ceremony. Witnesses Dr. Deborah Krause (Academic Dean and Professor of New Testament and Dead, Eden Theological Seminary) and Heather Reichgott (doctoral student, Graduate Theological Union) discussed how such a ceremony would not violate Scripture and in fact falls well within the scope of Reformed interpretation of Scripture. Witness Rev. Dr. Christopher Elwood (Professor of Historical Theology, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary) discussed how such a ceremony would be well within Reformed church tradition, although Reformed church tradition also includes many who might disagree. Witness Judge Justin Johnson took issue with the incomplete nature of the charges and the lack of evidence presented by the prosecution thus far. Johnson, a veteran of PJCs and secular courts, emphasized that in order to convict Rev. Edwards, the prosecution must demonstrate both what she did, and the mandatory provision that she violated. (W-4.9001 is a definition, not a mandatory provision). Johnson also provided some background information about the 1991 authoritative interpretation of W-4.9001, the Bush decision, the Benton decision, and the Spahr decision.

A room full of supporters seated at round tables watched the proceedings peacefully and in good humor, a fitting background for Rev. Edwards' gentle attitude toward the trial.

(Note: Any errors in the summary above are entirely our own and are unintentional, but this is the precis of today's events as we understand them so far. The PA system at the Priory wasn't working very well for the first portion of the proceedings, and it was very difficult to hear. Stay tuned for further updates!)

No comments: