PCUSA's Highest Commission to Hear Case of Lesbian Clergy Who Married Her Partner

A Presbyterian clergywoman who married her partner will soon have to go before the highest ranked Commission of Presbyterian Church (USA).

An appeal was brought before the Permanent Judicial Commission of the General Assembly of PC(USA) regarding Rev. Laurie McNeill, who married her partner back in 2009.

Filed by Whitman Brisky Esq. of Mauck & Baker, LLC in September, the case will be argued before the PJC GA on Oct. 26 in Louisville, Kent.

"This case is about a Teaching Elder, the Rev. Laurie McNeill, who deliberately chose to do what was right in her own eyes rather than stay true to the Word, the Confessions, and the Constitution of which and by which she was called to be a pastor," reads the appeal in part.

In an interview with The Christian Post, Brisky explained that his appeal "to perfect the prosecution's appeal of the not guilty verdict by the Presbytery PJC."

"This is the highest level of appeal within the denomination. While it is unlikely that we will receive a ruling [Oct. 26], the GAPJC will issue a ruling before it adjourns," said Brisky.

"Thus we should have one by Monday or Tuesday of that week. If we prevail at this level, the case will be remanded for a new trial based on the decision."

In October 2009 Rev. McNeill, then a pastor at Central Presbyterian Church at Newark Presbytery, went to Massachusetts where she married her partner in a ceremony held at an Episcopal Church which was overseen by clergy from The Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ.

At the time, PC(USA)'s Constitution did not allow for non-celibate homosexuals to have church leadership positions and at present the Constitution defines marriages as being between a man and a woman. As a result, The Presbytery of Newark charged McNeill with participating in a same-sex marriage and living in a relationship not condoned by the PC(USA) Constitution.

Central Presbyterian, noted in local media as welcoming of LGBT members, would nevertheless vote McNeill out of her position at church leader in July 2010.

The Presbytery PJC would acquit McNeill of both charges. The prosecution appealed the case to the Permanent Judicial Commission of the Synod of the Northeast, which ruled in favor of McNeill in December 2011.

This past summer at the 220th General Assembly of PC(USA), a proposed redefinition of the denomination's Constitution regarding marriage definition failed in a vote of 338 nays to 308 ayes.

Despite the vote's result, Brisky told CP that he felt like he was fighting a "losing battle" since he felt PJC's are loosely enforcing church laws like that of marriage definition.

"I think that, in general, the PCUSA is approaching a time when it can no longer be said that ecclesiastical discipline is uprightly ministered," said Brisky.

"I seem to be fighting a losing battle as more and more orthodox Presbyterians leave for other denominations and the Progressives make up a larger and larger proportion of those who are left."

Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of General Assembly of Presbyterian Church (USA), declined comment to The Christian Post due to the matter being of pending litigation.

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