PC(USA) Minister Faces New Charges for Same-Sex Ceremonies

A retired Presbyterian minister who was cleared of wrongdoing two years ago for performing same-sex ceremonies for two lesbian couples is facing new charges and again awaiting trial.

In 2008, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s highest court, the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission (GAPJC), narrowly reversed the 2006 decision of the Synod of the Pacific Permanent Judicial Commission, which found the Rev. Jane Adams Spahr guilty of violating church law when she performed two same-sex weddings.

The GAPJC held that the denomination's Book of Order "does not prohibit an officer of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) who has been authorized to perform marriages from performing a same sex union."

"A same sex ceremony is not and cannot be a marriage under W-4.9001," it stated, referring to the four definitional statements of marriage in the PC(U.S.A.) Book of Order – in which marriage is only referred to as being between a woman and a man.

"It is not improper for ministers of the Word and Sacrament to perform same sex ceremonies," the commission majority added.

The GAPJC's ruling marked the end of a four-year legal journey for Spahr that began in 2004, when allegations were initially filed against her by her local Presbytery in Northern California.

This time, Spahr faces trial for officiating same-sex "marriages" during the short time they were legal in California – which happened to take place just months after the 2008 ruling.

According to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the Presbytery of the Redwoods Permanent Judicial Commission is expected to be hold the new trial either the week of Aug. 23 or the week of Sept. 20.

The exact date has yet to be announced.