Lesbian Presbyterian minister plans to appeal against court ruling regarding same-sex marriages

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A retired lesbian minister who officiated at a number of same-sex weddings during the period in which they were legal in California, says she will appeal against the ruling of a Presbyterian court last Thursday which rebuked her for going against the constitution of her denomination.

The court ruled that Reverend Jane Adams Spahr’s actions sent contradictory messages about the church’s support of gay rights.

The court, part of the Redwoods Presbytery district of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Napa, California, did however, acquit Rev Spahr on a charge of failing “to further the peace, unity and purity of the church”.

Rev Spahr was also praised by the court for “her prophetic ministry that for 35 years has extended support to ‘people who seek the dignity, freedom and respect that they have been denied'”.

In an interview with ENInews on Sunday, Rev Spahr said she was “stunned” by the decision. She added: “The law here is wrong. It was not a just decision.”

She added that the fact she was found guilty then commended for her prophetic ministry showed that the “church is in great conflict and playing it out on our lives”.

Rev Spahr also said she saw the marriage issue as being inextricably tied up with power, given that the church pays lip service to equality for LGBT people but then denies openly gay clergy the chance to fully serve in the church.

“These are people who are raised in the church, feel a call and then are told they can only go so far,” Ms Spahr said. “Who does the Presbyterian Church think we are? We are they, they are us.”

In July, an assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA voted to maintain the church’s current definition of marriage in its constitution – that between a man and a woman.