Days after being elected as vice moderator of the General Assembly – the second highest elected position in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) – the Rev. Tara Spuhler McCabe resigned on Wednesday after realizing that her recent participation in a same-sex marriage was going to be disruptive.
"The amount of conversation in person and comments online indicate that my confirmation has obviously touched a nerve," she said in a speech to the Assembly. "The tension over all of this is real, and clearly the energy and passion about this issue runs deep – and isn't going away."
McCabe, who served as associate pastor of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., pointed out that people had posted blogs, tweets and comments that were "unhelpful" and "divisive" since she was elected by a 55 to 44 percent vote on Sunday.
"Saddened by the pervasive poisonous activity" and not wanting "this situation to get in the way," she decided to give up her stole.
The controversy is over her recent signing of a marriage license between two lesbians in Washington, D.C., where same-sex marriage is legal.
When McCabe's name was submitted by moderator the Rev. Neal D. Presa as a nominee for vice moderator, one commissioner raised the issue over the recent lesbian ceremony.
Opposing her election, the Rev. Tara Thompson, commissioner from St. Augustine Presbytery, contended that McCabe ignored the denomination's constitution, which currently states that marriage is between a man and a woman, as reported by Presbyterian News Service.
But McCabe went on to be elected after Presa said his trust in her (built over a more than 10-year friendship) outweighed his disagreement with her on same-sex marriage, according to the denomination's news service.
"I am a pastor," McCabe stated in her speech Wednesday. "That is who God has called me to be.
"As I reflect on what's happening now, I think I am embodying the reality of a growing number of pastors who find ourselves caught. We are caught between being pastors – being with couples in those sacred moments when they make their vows to one another – and having a polity that restricts us from living out our pastoral calling, especially in states where it is legal for everyone to be married."
The PC(USA) General Assembly, which continues its meeting through Saturday is considering an overture on changing the definition of marriage to "two people." A vote is expected this week.