- (Photo: John Toxey)
A candidate for the moderator position of the 220th General Assembly of Presbyterian Church (USA) says that although she is part of an LGBT organization she will be able to facilitate dialogue between both sides.
The Rev. Janet Edwards, a board member of the group More Light Presbyterians, told The Christian Post that as moderator she would be tolerant of different opinions.
"I believe a PC(USA) General Assembly moderator should be knowledgeable and have principled opinions on a wide range of issues," said Edwards. "There are countless examples of communities that have learned to be together despite their different interpretations of Scripture and we need to learn from them."
Edwards also said that she feels called to be the moderator for the 220th General Assembly and she has decades long experience in overseeing dialogue between conflicting parties.
"As far as I know myself, this call to stand as moderator is as deep and unyielding as any of the most important calls in my life. The road may be challenging, but I cannot turn my back on this call from God," said Edwards.
"I've been facilitating conversation among people for decades, including on some of the issues that have most divided us and look forward to bringing my years of experience doing so to the role of the moderator."
Edwards' remarks come about a month after the regional body she serves under, the Presbytery of Pittsburgh, voted against endorsing her candidacy. The Rev. Dr. Sheldon Sorge, who serves as pastor to presbytery for the Pittsburgh regional body, echoed the concerns of many that Edwards might use the position for advocacy rather than dialogue.
"The GA moderator is called to be moderator for the entire denomination. Their position is not one of advocacy for partisan positions, but one of representing the whole denomination," said Sorge in an interview with CP.
"The presbytery conversation about Rev. Edwards' candidacy was entirely respectful and appreciative of her gifts and ministry; those who spoke against her endorsement did so with reference to her record of support for an ordination standard different from the one that Pittsburgh Presbytery has supported."
Although the 219th General Assembly of PC(USA) voted to allow presbyteries to sanction gay ordination, the Pittsburgh Presbytery voted against the amendment that allowed this and has also refused to alter their rules on ordination.
"We have voted consistently by a 2-1 margin not to include self-affirmed practicing GLBT persons in ordained ministry," said Sorge.
"The vote margin not to confirm Rev. Edwards was almost identical to our pattern of voting on the inclusion of GLBT people in ordained ministry."
The PC(USA), the largest Presbyterian denomination in the country, has long been debating homosexual ordination and same-sex marriage. Last year, the ban against ordaining non-celibate homosexuals was officially lifted, causing several congregations to leave the denomination.
The election for the position of moderator for the 220th General Assembly will take place at the General Assembly this summer at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, Pa.