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Friday, March 20, 2009

San Francisco 'Lesbyterian' Seeks Ordination

Posted By on Fri, Mar 20, 2009 at 12:01 AM

Lisa Larges
  • Lisa Larges
Even if the Presbyterian Church refuses to ordain Lisa Larges a minister, there's no denying the San Francisco woman has shown the patience of Job.

Larges -- a "practicing lesbian" and practicing Presbyterian at Noe Valley Ministry (does that make her a lesbyterian?) -- was first blocked from becoming a minister in 1992 because she was openly gay.

But Larges has continued the fight against "faith-based discrimination" the whole time. On Friday, the church's regional judicial commission will convene at the Park Plaza Hotel in Oakland to weigh whether the San Francisco Presbytery, an ecclesiastical court in the Bay Area, was right in deciding that Larges could move forward in the ordination process.  

Larges says she's trying to be ordained in spite of the policy in the church's constitution that bans ordination of LGBT folks, stating that marriage is solely between a man and a woman and that single people should be celibate. In the long run, Larges would like to see a majority of the 173 presbyteries in the country vote to change the policy. "That's ultimately what we want, we don't want to be exceptionalized."

In the meantime, Larges wants to push forward with her own quest for ordination. She won by a slim majority in the presbytery vote last January --167 for the motion, 151 against. But the minority argued that there were irregularities in the voting, which Larges dismisses as a "a pretty slim argument. Essentially they're saying the presbytery wasn't properly informed on what they were voting on. Their larger argument is that Larges is a practicing lesbian so therefore we should be talking about her at all."

Indeed, Katherine Runyeon, the stated clerk of the San Francisco

presbytery who was in charge of the voting procedure, says the rules

were followed correctly. The counsel of the opposition could not be

reached on Thursday. 

Larges says her struggle encompasses more than her own ordination. She works as the minister coordinator of the non-profit That All May Freely Serve,

which fights for LGBT Presbyterians to be fully welcome members of the

church, including the ability to become deacons and ministers. She says

she knows of roughly 60 LGBT people nationwide -- some closeted, some

out -- who have started the process of being ordained in the church.

Others have left the church to be ministers in more accepting United

Church of Christ, she says. "It's hard for them to leave the church

where they are raised and they care about to go to another

denomination."

But Larges didn't want to jump ship.  "For me,

it's a spiritual thing," Larges says. "I feel called to stay in this

process in this church. If I felt that Christ was calling me to do

something different I would do that, but for now, I feel this is the

work I've been given to do."

The judicial counsel will likely decide on the matter this weekend after the hearing.

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Lauren Smiley

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