PC(USA) 'Lesbian Evangelist' to Appeal Church Censure Over Performing Gay Marriage

A Presbyterian Church (USA) minister who was censured by her denomination in 2010 for performing same-sex marriages in Calif. while it was legal to do so is appealing the decision.

Reverend Dr. Jane Adams Spahr will be bringing her appeal on Friday, Feb. 16 to The General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission, the highest court in PC(USA).

According to the PC(USA) Constitution, W-4.9001, "Marriage is a civil contract between a woman and a man. For Christians marriage is a covenant through which a man and a woman are called to live out together before God their lives of discipleship."

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C. Laurie Griffith, Manager of Judicial Process and Social Witness for the Office of the General Assembly for PC(USA), explained to The Christian Post the basis for Spahr's censure.

"The General Assembly and the General Assembly Permanent Judicial commission may both Authoritatively Interpret the PCUSA Constitution," said Griffith.

"The General Assembly does so through legislative process and the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission does so through particular cases. The most recent interpretation is binding."

Several amendments to W-4.9001 have been proposed in the past to change the definition of marriage found in the PC(USA) Constitution. These have included broadening the words to include the term "two people" rather than "a man and a woman." None of these amendments, including one proposed in 2010, have been successful.

"The 2010 General Assembly declined to amend G-4.9001 one way or another," said Griffith, referencing the General Assembly that had voted to allow regional bodies within PC(USA) to approve non-celibate homosexuals for clergy and lay leader positions.

Known by some as the "Lesbian Evangelist", Spahr has had a history of supporting same-sex marriage while serving as a minister in San Francisco.

In 2004, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom started issuing same-sex marriage licenses even though it was against the law in California for him to do so. During the time in which Newsom did this, Spahr oversaw two same-sex marriage ceremonies. She would be found guilty of misconduct by a regional judicial committee, whose decision would be overturned in 2006 by a judicial commission of the Redwoods Presbytery.

In 2008, Spahr officiated at the weddings of 16 same-sex couples during from June to November 2008, which was the period when same-sex marriage was legal in California. A four to two vote in the Redwoods Presbytery Judicial Commission in August of 2010 found her guilty of disobeying church law.

The Friday appeal hearing will be held at the Drury Plaza Hotel in San Antonio, Texas. The General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission's decision is expected on Tuesday, Feb. 21.

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