Presbyterian Church (USA) Holds First Gay Wedding at National Office

The national office for the mainline denomination Presbyterian Church (USA), located in Louisville, Kentucky. | (Photo: courtesy PCUSA)

The largest Presbyterian denomination in the United States recently hosted a same-sex wedding at its national office in Louisville, Kentucky.

An official with Presbyterian Church (USA) officiated a wedding last Thursday between Paul Kempf and Robb Gwaltney at the Presbyterian Center's chapel.

A PC(USA) spokesperson told The Christian Post that the ceremony had "perhaps 25 people in attendance, a combination of family and friends, along with a few staff."

Gregg Brekke of the Presbyterian News Service wrote "… the ceremony [was conducted] by the Rev. David Maxwell, an editor at the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) holds its biennial meeting in Detroit, Michigan, June 14-21, 2014. | (Photo: Facebook/PCUSA)

"Kempf has been an employee of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) since 2012 and Gwaltney is a former employee who helped plan and oversee the PC(USA) move to Louisville in 1988."

Over the past several years, PC(USA) has become increasingly accepting of homosexuality and gay marriage, as seen with major policy changes on sexual ethics.

At the PC(USA)'s 219th General Assembly held in July 2010, the denomination voted to allow regional bodies, or presbyteries, to ordain noncelibate homosexuals.

Earlier this year, a supermajority of PC(USA) presbyteries approved Amendment 14-F, which changed the denomination's definition of marriage from that of "a man and a woman" to "two people, traditionally a man and a woman."

However this increased acceptance of homosexuality has come at a price, as over 200 member congregations have ended their affiliation with the denomination over the issue.

Carmen Fowler LaBerge, president of the theologically conservative Presbyterian Lay Committee, told CP that the national office hosting the wedding was an inflammatory action.

"I see it as an in-your-face act designed to make a public and political statement that the PC(USA) is pro-gay marriage, alternative views be damned," said LaBerge.

"No one should be honestly shocked nor surprised by the news that the PC(USA) hosted a same-sex wedding at this national Chapel. But yes, it will further fuel the conversation in churches currently discerning their denominational future."

LaBerge also questioned the legitimacy of the ceremony given that, according to W-4.9003 of the PC(USA) Book of Order, "the marriage service is under the direction of the teaching elder and the supervision of the session."

"The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board is neither. So, one of my questions would be, who authorized the wedding? The PMAB had the authority to authorize the use of the facility, but not the wedding."

"One would assume that the two men whose wedding was held at the Chapel at The Presbyterian Center in Louisville have a home church. Why not get married in the context of the worshiping community where they are members?" questioned LaBerge.

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