A conservative group within Presbyterian Church (USA) has stated its members "grieve" the General Assembly's vote that allows pastors to perform same-sex marriages.
The Fellowship of Presbyterians sent out a "pastoral letter" Friday in response to the 221st PC (USA) General Assembly voting to allow pastors to perform gay marriage in states where it is legally recognized.
The letter also despaired at the vote to allow the presbyteries to enter consideration for changing the official definition of marriage for the denomination from "a man and a woman" to "two people, traditionally a man and a woman."
"We grieve these actions by the General Assembly. We believe we will look back on this day and see the error of these decisions," read the letter.
"But an Assembly of our denomination has spoken, and now we must move ahead without compromising compassion or conviction."
The pastoral letter went on to say that some within PC (USA) may be encouraged to leave the denomination after the vote.
"Proponents of these two actions have made great effort to invite and welcome those who hold unwaveringly to a traditional interpretation of marriage to remain engaged in the mission and ministry of the PC(USA) with full integrity. Some will resolve to do this – others may not," read the letter.
"Those of us who do remain in the PC(USA) will, no doubt, encounter other decisions and actions with which we will disagree."
At their Detroit, Michigan meeting, delegates at the 221st General Assembly of PC (USA) voted overwhelmingly to allow pastors to bless same-sex marriages, expanding upon an earlier move to allow the blessing of gay unions.
The General Assembly also approved an amendment to its Book of Order that would change the definition of marriage from one man and one woman to "two people."
To be added, however, this amendment must be ratified by a majority of the denomination's presbyteries, or district governing bodies.
Both votes were overwhelmingly in favor of their aims, with the pastor resolution passing by a vote of 371 to 238 and the marriage amendment passing by a vote of 429 to 175.
"Obviously members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) bring differing viewpoints to this issue," stated Heath K. Rada, Moderator of the 221st General Assembly.
"However, much respect has been shown between people with different viewpoints and there is an acceptance that even in a family where we disagree, we can love each other. The church has spoken and we will follow their lead."