The General Assembly of Presbyterian Church in America on July 1, voted for a rule to prevent gay men from being ordained as priests.

‘This is a time to grieve,’ Rev. Greg Johnson said after the passing of an overture that prevents gay people from qualifying for ordination 

The overture received an approval of 1438-417 on July 1, 2021 at the Presbyterian Church in America’s annual business meeting in St.Louis. Opponents of the overture included Rev. Johnson, a lead pastor of Memorial Presbyterian Church in St. Louis.

‘Keep Out’

The reigning cultural narrative is that ‘Christians hate gay people.’ By making it even harder for celibate believers to serve the church, this General Assembly has nothing to prove the culture wrong on that point. Quite the contrary. Rightly or wrongly, it will be perceived as a ‘Keep Out’ sign on the church lawn,” said the Rev. Greg Johnson, in an email to Religion News Service. “This is a time to grieve.”

The new clause added to the final amendment of The Book of Church order reads as follows: “Those who profess an identity (such as, but not limited to, ‘gay Christian,’ ‘same sex attracted Christian,’ ‘homosexual Christian,’ or like terms) that undermines or contradicts their identity as new creations in Christ, either by denying the sinfulness of fallen desires (such as, but not limited to, same sex attraction), or by denying the reality and hope of progressive sanctification, or by failing to pursue Spirit-empowered victory over their sinful temptations, inclinations, and actions are not qualified for ordained office.” (BCO 21-4; 24-1).

This has been a hot topic in our denomination, so it won’t surprise you to hear that we spent more time on this overture than any other overture,” said Scott Barber, Chair of the Overtures Committee.

“Very proud of the elders in St Louis who are standing for orthodoxy against cultural currents. A strong vote for Biblical sexual ethics tonight,” tweeted Erick Erickson, a conservative evangelical American radio host.

‘Will Negatively Affect Young LGBTQI+’

Johnson expressed his concern about how this overture might negatively affect the younger generation, since poor treatment of LGBTQ people is the major reason that pushes them away from conservative religious traditions like the Presbyterian Church in America. However, he doesn’t believe that the overture will remove him from ministry.

Johnson had previously shared his story of hiding his shame as a gay child and eventually baptising to become a member of the Presbyterian Church. 

“I moved to St. Louis to enroll at Covenant Seminary, not because I had any interest in ever being a pastor…but because I wanted to understand the Bible and theology. It was there that I began to experience the gospel’s power to cover my shame. Decades have passed, and at age 46 I’m still a virgin fighting a constant battle for sexual holiness,” he said previously in a testimony titled “I used to Hide my Shame. Now I take Shelter under the Gospel”.

To take effect, the overture requires approval by two-thirds of the denomination’s regional presbyteries and then another majority at the next General Assembly, to be held in 2022 in Alabama.


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