The Louisville-based Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will recognize same-sex marriage for all of its congregations.
The top Presbyterian legislative body endorsed the new wording last year, but amending the church’s constitution required approval from the majority of regional bodies, called presbyteries. That majority was reached Tuesday with a favorable vote by New Jersey’s Presbytery of the Palisades, according to the Associated Press.
The denomination will expand its definition of marriage in the church constitution to say that marriage is a “commitment between two people.”
Rev. Dr. Peggy Hinds, associate general presbyter for the Mid-Kentucky Presbytery, said at the time: “We have a lot of congregations who, this will upset them if this passes. We have other congregations wondering why it’s taken this long.”
Church leaders acknowledged theological differences over marriage within the church and are asking for mutual respect as those disagreements play out. The new definition allows local clergy or congregations to opt out of hosting same-sex weddings.
Here’s an excerpt of the current language in the Book of Order (constitution):
Marriage is a civil contract between a woman and a man. For Christians marriage is a covenant through which a man and a woman are called to live out together before God their lives of discipleship.
Here’s an excerpt from the proposed change:
Marriage involves a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman, to love and support each other for the rest of their lives.