San Francisco Presbytery Votes to Ordain Lisa Larges as Minister of Word and Sacrament

In a meeting that lasted until 11 p.m., the Presbytery of San Francisco voted on November 10 to ordain Lisa Larges as Minister of Word and Sacrament, validate her call as Minister Coordinator of That All May Freely Serve, and enroll her as a member of the Presbytery.

In approving the ordination of  a ministerial candidate who asserted a “departure” on G-6.0106b, the Presbytery followed the process lifted up in Authoritative Interpretations of G-6.0108 by the 2006 and 2008 General Assemblies.

As directed by the GAPJC in the recently decided case Naegeli et al. vs. Presbytery of San Francisco (see adjoining story), the presbytery considered Ms. Larges’s Statement of Departure from G-6.0106b along with her Faith Statement, her experience with the presbytery, her ministry experience, her sense of call and the like, and voted to “sustain her trials of ordination” by a vote of 156 – 138.

Ms. Larges, an out lesbian, has been under care of the presbytery for twelve years. But this is the first time the whole presbytery has actually had a chance to meet and examine her. As in all ordination exams in San Francisco, she read a short portion of her Faith Statement and then answered questions posed by the Committee on Ministry. Unlike other exams in San Francisco, a long line of presbyters then posed additional questions, both about her Faith Statement and her Statement of Departure. Ms. Larges’s answers – eloquent, biblical, occasionally humorous, and clearly showing her deep piety and faith – satisfied a majority of presbyters that she is both gifted and called to her ministry and that her departure did not constitute a “failure to adhere to essentials of Reformed faith and polity.”

The presbytery had earlier voted (following nearly an hour of discussion) to recognize her call as Minister Coordinator of That All May Freely Serve – a ministry of witness and outreach to GLBT Presbyterians – as a validated ministry (pending her ordination). That vote was 157 – 144.

While another remedial case against the presbytery will likely be brought (and a “Stay of Enforcement” has already been requested), the Presbytery’s process and discernment represented our historic polity at work today – extending mutual forbearance on conscientious, non-essential differences.

Leslie Scanlon gives a good deal of background in a Presbyterian Outlook article.

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