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October 10th, 2011
03:49 PM ET

First openly gay pastor ordained in the PCUSA speaks

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - It was nearly three decades in the making, but the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has ordained its first openly gay pastor. The Rev. Scott Anderson was ordained Saturday at Covenant Presbyterian Church, in Madison, Wisconsin.

"It's an exciting time for me personally to be the first openly gay person ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and it's a big moment for our church that has has excluded gays and lesbians for so many decades, so it's a new day for us," Anderson told CNN's Suzanne Malveaux.

Anderson had previously been a Presbyterian pastor but left the ministry in 1990 after he was outed by congregants.

At the time, the church required pastors, deacons and elders "to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness," according to its constitution, known as the Book of Order.

Anderson was in a homosexual relationship that violated the church's policy at the time.

"I had been a Presbyterian pastor for eight years, and when I left, I never thought this day would come in my lifetime. God has brought a variety of surprises to my life, and this certainly is the biggest one," Anderson said.

The PCUSA formally changed its ordination policy after a majority of presbyteries, or regional groups of churches, approved the change. The move went into effect in July.

An amendment was passed at the General Assembly, or churchwide governing meeting, last year to remove the marriage language from the church's constitution and insert, "Standards for ordained service reflect the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life."

A letter from church leaders posted on the church's official website explaining the changes called the matter "a Presbyterian family struggle."

The move led Carmen Fowler LaBerge of the Presbyterian Lay Committee, which opposed changing the ordination standards, to set aside her ordination. She wrote in a commentary posted on the committee's website, "I will joyfully serve as your sister in Christ in the PCUSA without the benefit of institutional ordination credentials and without the burden of a denomination’s corporate guilt. I hereby humbly set aside my ordination as a matter of conscience before the Lord."

"I think what's happening in the Presbyterian church is happening also in the Christian church across our nation right now," Anderson told Malveaux. "Our church is recognizing there are a variety of viewpoints on scripture. There's no longer a right viewpoint and a wrong viewpoint but several faithful viewpoints, one of which includes me in terms of being a minister in the Presbyterian church. So we're honoring a diversity of viewpoints in our church."

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- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • Content Partner • Homosexuality • TV-CNN Newsroom

soundoff (802 Responses)
  1. CdnJim

    Sad to see the sun rise on a church so filled with hate. Why does it matter who somoene loves? IIsn't there enough sadness and strife in the world around us. Children are dieing every minute from starvation, disease and the violences of war and greed, and the people who profess to be God's children are more angry about two people who love each other?

    Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, "This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me."

    How about you examine your own lifestyle and eliminate all the ways in which you contribute to the injustices of this world, and then after you have removed the beam from your own eye, see if you have any time left in your life to remove the sliver from someone else's.

    October 11, 2011 at 7:34 am |
  2. jason

    This is why religion is useless and only for suckers and weak minded people that need a crutch in life. If you do away with religion people will become more responsible and no longer blame mythical characters called God and the Devil.

    October 11, 2011 at 7:34 am |
    • Teeph

      Dude, you are so hard-core. I can't believe how tough you sounded just then. It was, seriously, about the coolest thing I've ever heard. I think liked the part where you talked about religion being for weak minded people who need a crutch to get through life the best. I think the part I liked second-best was the part where everything about your post implies that you're below the age of 25, still sponging off your mother in some way and think you know a thing or two about the world because you have the internet. So hard-core. When I grow up, I wanna be just like you.

      October 11, 2011 at 7:53 am |
    • tallulah13

      Teeph, I think your reading comprehension could use a little work.

      October 11, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  3. Andy

    This church does not speak for some kind of national movement that is throwing out the authority of Scripture. No matter how hard people try to re-interpret the plain words of the Bible, the words have stood, and will continue to stand, the test of time.

    October 11, 2011 at 7:26 am |
    • Rick

      The plain words of the bible? How many Christian denominations are there?

      October 11, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  4. Brian

    I couldn't agree more with the Biblical Christians on here. This is both a judgement on the church, and at the same time a judgement of God. See Romans 1. I pray that Anderson and the PCUSA repent of their sins before they are judged further. Christ is coming back in judgement one day. May we all be found faithful!

    October 11, 2011 at 7:21 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      Oh wow, what sins has this man committed? Being gay is not a sin. He didn't make the choice to be gay, he made the choice to admit it and kudos to him for doing so. The fact that bigots like you exist in the church has obviously not swayed him from what he believes in. Bigotry is a bigger 'sin' than him being gay is. He was born that way whether the bible leads you to believe that or not.

      October 11, 2011 at 7:26 am |
    • Rick

      Brian: Your post rings of cowering in front of a bully than worshipping a loving god.

      October 11, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • J.W

      Brian you know Jesus said not to judge others, however you are basically condemning this man to hell. Your sin is just as great as any sin he has committed, so I hope you have fun down there with him.

      October 11, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  5. The Pope

    Sounds like cafeteria style Christianity. Just pick and choose what you like and ignore what you don't like. It's too bad the Presbyterian church is more concerned about changing for the times instead of honoring God's word.

    October 11, 2011 at 7:19 am |
    • JT

      All Christians pick and choose and ignore the parts that are inconvenient. Why do you think there are thousands of denominations? It's insane to take a text written 2000 years ago by sheep herders and revised thousands of times and try to follow it.

      October 11, 2011 at 8:39 am |
    • Scott - 1

      Cafeteria style Christianity is the only kind there is

      October 12, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  6. Mike

    You gotta admit, that cute little thing around his neck looks FABULOUS!!!

    October 11, 2011 at 7:14 am |
  7. El Kababa

    I don't mind the fact that he's gay. I don't like ministers.

    October 11, 2011 at 7:09 am |
    • Teeph

      Cool story bro.

      October 11, 2011 at 7:48 am |
  8. Wesley Pittman

    "Be not deceived, God is not mocked." You mock God and you mock the true and living Church. Jesus is coming again. I know you may say it has been 2,000 years and where is Jesus. But He is coming. Repent of your sins.

    October 11, 2011 at 7:00 am |
    • Rick

      Get off your knees and grow a pair. Stop capitulating to bronze age comic book bulllies

      October 11, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • claybigsby

      STOP THE FEAR MONGERING! Is that all you people are good for?

      October 11, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  9. Sardukar

    Yo delusionals try reading War and Peace...

    October 11, 2011 at 6:50 am |
  10. SAFENHISGRACE

    You have GOT TO BE KIDDING ME.!!! Unless this ""openly gay man"" repents of his sin.....he is blaspheming GOD. And....the Christian church does NOT exclude gays & lesbians, we invite them.....because just like us, we were in darkness too once.

    October 11, 2011 at 6:47 am |
    • Mirosal

      you probably invite them for 2 reasons... as a ploy to APPEAR tolerant of others, even if your own faith tells you they are unacceptable in your "god's" eyes..... and also so you can help them "pray away the gay", and that simply won't work

      October 11, 2011 at 7:15 am |
    • claybigsby

      Mirosal: you forgot the third reason they invite gays....MONEY

      October 11, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
  11. terri

    Engaging in activities or espousing beliefs that are listed in the Bible as excluding one from heaven cannot be "spun" under the category of a "diversity of viewpoint" except for those who believe that they God is going to change the rules to let them do what they want. The Bible teaches that God does not change. God forgives sin, but with the expectation that one will eventually stop. Gays, on the other hand, have a "new" gospel that doesn't come from the Bible. They made it up. It's called "have your cake and eat it too". It is an old theme but with new participants. If gays bothered to study history and the Bible they would realize these simple facts. The bottom line is, they don't want to.

    The Bible says that there will come a day when good is called evil and evil is called good. And that things will become highly confusing in the end times regarding truth and error. The only way to discern one from another is to become very knowledgeable about what the Bible says. Humans cannot rely on "common sense" to figure out whether activities on earth are appropriate or not. The bottom line is that if you choose to follow God, you choose to adopt God's standard of integrity, as revealed in the Bible, not one endlessly argued upon and adjusted by man.

    October 11, 2011 at 6:39 am |
    • Sardukar

      you should stop tacking that LCD ...not good for the mind..

      October 11, 2011 at 6:48 am |
    • Aileen

      The Bible itself has been altered and changed by man even after it was finally written down. How do you know what was originally intended?

      October 11, 2011 at 6:48 am |
    • terri

      Because a God who is in control inspired men in their activities in how the Bible was written and how it has survived despite many attempts in history to destroy it. God's word is powerful and the only way He could allow those who are interested to have access to it is if He protected it through the ages.

      October 11, 2011 at 6:56 am |
    • Mirosal

      Terri... just one question ... do you believe EVERY word of your "holy book" to be true?? Answer carefully, I said EVERY word. well, do you?

      October 11, 2011 at 7:18 am |
    • tallulah13

      The bible also talks about unicorns and dragons.

      October 11, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • claybigsby

      "Because a God who is in control inspired men in their activities in how the Bible was written and how it has survived despite many attempts in history to destroy it."

      This is all according to Man. You are listening to mans words and relying on them to be infallible, which, if you havent noticed is the complete opposite.

      October 11, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • Scott - 1

      Terri: You talk big but I bet your going to hell because you don’t follow all the laws of god. I bet you don’t even try

      Jesus said to follow the law of the old testament ALL OF IT. He also said the most difficult path is the one that leads to heaven. Pretending that you are no longer bound by the law of the Old Testament is the easy path to hell

      “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven."Matthew 5:17-19

      "Heaven and earth will disappear before the smallest letter of the Law does." Luke 16:17 (CEV)

      What part of “UNTIL HEAVEN AND EARTH DISAPPEAR” don’t you understand? That doesn’t mean just until the resurrection (that is the easy path to hell).
      "You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it." Matthew 7:13-14

      October 12, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  12. sunsudo

    The echoes of laughter from the deps of hell are deafning right about now.

    October 11, 2011 at 6:30 am |
    • terri

      Sadly, I wholeheartedly agree.....

      October 11, 2011 at 6:45 am |
    • JT

      You guys got your Christian HellHouse ready to open by Holloween?

      October 11, 2011 at 8:42 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Where are the "deps of Hell", exactly?

      October 11, 2011 at 8:55 am |
  13. ONA

    It's about time! God is inclusive not exclusive....plain and simple.

    October 11, 2011 at 5:52 am |
    • adam

      except for those parts in the Bible where it clearly states it's shameful for a man to be with a man. guess you haven't read that though

      October 11, 2011 at 6:28 am |
    • terri

      Not according to what the Bible says......Try reading all of it (not just the parts that seem to support your belief).

      October 11, 2011 at 6:41 am |
    • claybigsby

      "Not according to what the Bible says"

      Again, Terri, The bible was written by man and not under the presumed inspiration of god as man suggested. Get your head out of your ass.

      October 11, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
  14. frank

    all religions are cults get away

    October 11, 2011 at 5:52 am |
  15. frank

    all religions are cluts, get away for them as fast as you can

    October 11, 2011 at 5:52 am |
    • truthbetold

      your ignorant for that statement you shouldnt have even wasted your time leaving a post..

      October 11, 2011 at 6:47 am |
    • Craig

      @truthbetold.... The irony of you calling someone else ignorant when you cannot even spell correctly was the most humorous start to my morning.

      Or that you care claiming some type of moral high ground casting someone else down when the Bible clearly states "It is Mine to judge", meaning that just like everyone else you too are a sinner in God's eyes and you have no place condemning anyone else.

      People like you are why so many people are tired & disgusted with organized religion.

      October 11, 2011 at 7:24 am |
  16. Concerned Christian

    Romans Chapter 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

    22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

    23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

    24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

    25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

    26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

    27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

    28 And even as they did not like to retain God in [their] knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
    Read the whole Chapter of Romans 1.You can pick scriptures apart all you want but in the end Jesus and God will have the final say so.God will shake the very foundations of earth when he becomes angry about sin such as this.He gives space to repent and when people don,t heed the warning as Soddom and Gomorrah didn't his Judgement will fall.Consider me just another voice of truth but in the end Jesus will have the finaly say so and it will be depart from me ye who work iniquity I know you not! Jesus loves you and wants people to turn from their sins.Eartquakes are on the increase as one of the signs of his coming in Matthew 24 see if they don,t increase as the world grows more into sin.

    October 11, 2011 at 5:37 am |
    • Mirosal

      tell me, Concerned Christian, do you believe and take to heart EVERY word in that book of yours? Answer carefully, I said EVERY word, from Genesis to Revalation. Do you?

      October 11, 2011 at 5:57 am |
    • KJ

      Truth!

      October 11, 2011 at 6:09 am |
    • adam

      Mirosal – we get it. you don't believe in God. good for you. but for someone to preach to others about God who is clearly and openly and proudly in disobedience of him, do you think that's right? it's like someone directing an AA group while chugging down bottles of Jack Daniels during all the group sessions

      October 11, 2011 at 6:32 am |
    • terri

      Adam, I love your comparison....... a person leading an AA group while chugging bottles of Jack Daniels. Perfect...

      October 11, 2011 at 6:48 am |
    • SAFENHISGRACE

      Amen & Amen...thank you for replying & speaking the truth of His word...I pray that His holy spirit opens the eyes of this guys heart & speaks the truth to him & all others that think this is ok. I bind the spirit of rebellion in them according to Matt 18:18, and release the spirit of adoption by the blood of Christ, and humility to receive & obey the word of God as he reads/speaks/studies it!! AMen???!!!

      October 11, 2011 at 6:51 am |
    • Mirosal

      I do not preach about "god"... I do not spend my time worrying about whether a mythical billions-of-years-old invisble being is going to judge me. Your analogy paints me as a hypocrite. I don't tell others they can't drink or can drink. I don't tell anyone to not go to church. It's entirely their decision. But, if you want to submit, bow down to, and worship some sky-fairy all because a 2000 year old book tells you to... hey that's your folly. It makes no difference to me. Your "god" is in itself a contradiction. You claim "he's" perfect, yet "he" creates imperfect beings, and we get punished for those imperfections unless we ask for forgiveness because of those imperfections. Yeah, that's sane. And it's amazing how you tap-danced around my simple question. Do you believe every word in that book? A simple yes or no will suffice. No dissertation, no thesis is needed, just a simple one word answer will do.

      October 11, 2011 at 7:28 am |
    • James

      Oddly, every single thing you wrote here could be read two ways.

      October 11, 2011 at 7:35 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      There is no proof that the bible was god inspired. There is proof that it was written by men 2000 years ago. The problem with most christians is that they have never read the book and when they pick it up they miss all the negative crap and use the good portions. They tend to decipher it to fit their own delusions of what they feel it is meant to say.
      We also use the good but we don't require a book to help us or guide us. We use reason and logic. In lieu of what is thought of us non-believers, you will find good and bad regardless of belief system.
      We've come too far in our understanding of what created this planet and how man came to be, to fall for 2000 year old stories. The bible teaches about stoning and slavery and beating a child, however society has outlawed those things in most secular nations. Those things alone make the bible look like a horror story.
      Terri: if you don't want the real truth, this is not the place to come...we attack fallacies as people like you lay them out. The truth you speak of has been refuted over and over again...it is your blind eye that refuses to see it...not our issue. We have seen and acknowledged the damage that believing in the bible has caused for our world and we have chosen not to be mislead in the reality of life.

      October 11, 2011 at 7:41 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      There is no proof that the bible was god inspired. There is proof that it was written by men 2000 years ago. The problem with most christians is that they have never read the book and when they pick it up they miss all the negative crap and use the good portions. They tend to decipher it to fit their own delusions of what they feel it is meant to say.
      We also use the good but we don't require a book to help us or guide us. We use reason and logic. In lieu of what is thought of us non-believers or other belief systems, you will find good and bad regardless of belief or human condition. Seems to me there are more pedophiles hanging out in the Catholic church than in most jails.
      We've come too far in our understanding of what created this planet and how man came to be, to fall for 2000 year old stories. The bible teaches about stoning and slavery and beating a child, however society has outlawed those things in most secular nations. Those things alone make the bible look like a horror story.
      Terri: if you don't want the real truth, this is not the place to come...we attack fallacies as people like you lay them out. The truth you speak of has been refuted over and over again...it is your blind eye that refuses to see it...not our issue. We have seen and acknowledged the damage that believing in the bible has caused for our world and we have chosen not to be mislead in the reality of life.

      October 11, 2011 at 7:46 am |
    • J.W

      I do not think that the Bible says Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of gay people.

      October 11, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  17. Pork Pie

    Does the saying "practice what you preach" mean nothing anymore? What hypocrisy.

    October 11, 2011 at 5:12 am |
  18. REhab is for quitters

    The end times are near!! 😀

    October 11, 2011 at 5:04 am |
    • Mirosal

      does that mean religion will finally go away and we'll be free to live our lives without having to "fear" an imagnary fairy-king who they say is perfect, yet creates imperfect beings and then punishes them for those imperfections? If that's what you mean by "the end times are near" then it can't arrive soon enough!!

      October 11, 2011 at 6:20 am |
  19. god says stfu

    now hear thee.......

    when i want it to rain men, then it shall rain men.

    and remember to vote for rick perry. i love a man like perry who loves and supports illegal immigrants and hates america.

    now STFU and worship me. i am GOD, the lord jesus christ.

    October 11, 2011 at 4:47 am |
    • Lenore

      I laughed.

      October 11, 2011 at 11:38 am |
  20. W.G.

    This abomination just confirms the validity of the Bible and how true and alive the Bible is and that Jesus is coming back
    real soon . In "2nd Timothy 4:3 for the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine . Instead , to suit
    their own desires , they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear" .
    Mr. Anderson is right about one thing what is happening in the church is happening in churches all across the world .
    The letting in of
    "wolves in sheep's clothing " to distort and perverse the Holy Word of God and promote apostasy .

    October 11, 2011 at 4:29 am |
    • K.K.

      Lighten up, pal. 🙂

      October 11, 2011 at 5:29 am |
    • Mirosal

      You say "Jesus" is coming real soon? Is that what the sign around your neck says as you walk down the street? There would be no apostsy if you just realized that all gods are phony, false, and non-existent. Or are you the kind of person who spouts off select quotes from that bible without question, because if you didn't, "god" would punish you? well bring it on, I'm ready. You are just one of the sheeple. Can you offer any,ANY evidence other than "the bible says so", because to just use that archaic book of moldy oldie fairy tales just won't cut it. Yes, I said fairy tales, and your "god" is just another imaginary king of the fairies. Send him my way, I'll prove it to you. I triple-dog dare you.

      October 11, 2011 at 5:47 am |
    • terri

      Thank you for your comments. The attacks from others for speaking the truth confirms what the Bible says about end times......

      October 11, 2011 at 6:52 am |
    • Mirosal

      Terri... You're pretty adamant about this supposed "apocalypse". Are you one of the rapture crowd? Better hurry, you only have 10 days left!!! You think you're soooo right because you hold a bible. So are Jews wrong? Are Muslims wrong? What about the 1 billion Hindus, are they wrong also? Your rapture will never happen, and there will be no second coming because there was never a first coming. Is it wrong to be another religion other than yours? Is it wrong for someone to be gay? Is it wrong to question Christianity?

      October 11, 2011 at 7:48 am |
    • tallulah13

      It's sad and scary seeing people pinning all their hopes on the return of a bronze age myth. Living for a lie is a horrible waste of the a life.

      October 11, 2011 at 11:07 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.