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. unowhoitsme

    What's next? An atheist minister of a Christian church?

    October 11, 2011 at 4:22 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      If that ever happened, it would be due to the person not admitting he/she was an Atheist. You'd be amazed at how many people are Atheists who sit in those pews for fear of the loss of family if they do admit to being Atheist.

      October 11, 2011 at 4:31 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Actually there are already a good number of Atheist preachers in churches around the country. They are trapped in a no win situation where they fear losing family, friends and the only job they ever trained for. Seminary Bible study has turned many believers into non-believers simply due to discovery of how the Bible was actually compiled.

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

      families would disown a member for being atheist?

      October 11, 2011 at 5:46 am |
  2. James

    You have all the ability to twist scriptures to make yourself feel nice while doing something wrong.
    Sodomy is sin just like adultery, robbery and many more and the Bible is clear on that.
    Changing Scriptures to suit your lifestyle does not change their actual meaning perse. I'm very careful when reading American Bible translations for fear of being misguided. In most cases I have to refer to a lot of other translations.

    October 11, 2011 at 4:08 am |
    • Scott - 1

      Your right. “Sodomy is sin just like adultery, robbery and many more and the Bible is clear on that” more like lying, disagreeing with your parents, eating lobster and wearing cotton/poly blends. The bible is also very clear that because you have sinned you are no better than this preacher. It also says that god forgives every sin if asked.

      October 12, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  3. Kazan

    This church will be next gay pride gathering.

    October 11, 2011 at 3:49 am |
  4. Truth

    PCUSA just lost tens of thousands of members. Its becoming allot easier to see the false Church's.

    October 11, 2011 at 3:34 am |
    • Mirosal

      When will you see the light and realize ALL churches are false?

      October 11, 2011 at 3:39 am |
  5. dcdrew8171

    Man and all his wisdumb!
    satifacation, misspelled it earlier, for the critic's

    October 11, 2011 at 3:22 am |
  6. Son of God

    I made this decision so that there will be better flower arrangements on the alter.

    October 11, 2011 at 3:20 am |
  7. dcdrew8171

    This is not about the teachings of God, this is about the self willed flesh driven new gods of man's disobediance of the truth of the word of God, not the nation of choice or freedom. Every one's salvation is thier own. with the God given gift of choice, I choose to let people be where they are in thier choices, and standing firm in mine. So to those who choose not to believe, and to those who choose to dilute the word to fit the lust of the flesh I say, good luck with that. This is not christian or any faith I know of , to me this is the proof of the word of God, as man turns to the saticfation of self and not of the obedience of the christian Jew or Muslim. Very sad and very true

    October 11, 2011 at 3:18 am |
  8. Ddrhl

    Fantastic! Way to go, PCUSA. I'm Presbyterian, and I'm very proud of your thoughtful, courageous, and careful examination of this situation. It's the right outcome. Bravo.

    October 11, 2011 at 3:10 am |
    • W.G.

      to Ddrhl I think it´s very dangerous to promote apostasy

      October 11, 2011 at 4:34 am |
    • Rick

      How is it dangerous, WC?

      October 11, 2011 at 5:48 am |
  9. James

    You have all the ability to twist scriptures to make yourself feel nice while doing something wrong. Sodomy is sin just like adultery, robbery and many more and the Bible is clear on that. Changing Scriptures to suit your lifestyle does not change their actual meaning perse. I'm very careful when reading American Bible translations for fear of being misguided. In most cases I have to refer to a lot of other translations.

    October 11, 2011 at 2:59 am |
  10. Aristocles

    And this is why the PCUSA is a tiny, dwindling church. Maybe they will allow people who don't believe in Jesus to be made pastors at this church next.

    October 11, 2011 at 2:43 am |
  11. truthsaysit

    The gay pastor should read Romans Chapters 1 in it's entirety. But no, he would be exposing himself.

    October 11, 2011 at 2:42 am |
    • Rick

      right. the last thing we need is a cleric exposing himself

      October 11, 2011 at 5:49 am |
  12. Mirosal

    I don't believe every word of the bible. In fact, I don't believe ANY word in the bible. Just another storybook from long ago written in a long-dead language. If you really do call yourself "christian", and yet you're upset that this church has ordained a gay minister, then you really are a christian. Judgemental (or is that just "mental"?), hypocritical, biased and bigoted. Yep, you're a typical christian

    October 11, 2011 at 2:35 am |
    • Rick Perry

      I'm bored by famine. I cant wait for a nice cookie, or a cinnabun, a hot yella kool-aide...and SAVE A PRETZEL FOR THE GAS JETS!

      October 11, 2011 at 8:15 am |
  13. Todd Morgan

    Our great country is founded on the principle of religious freedom and for that reason alone I don't have a problem with this story. However, I do believe that God intends us to follow his path, and I do believe that path leads to marriage between a man and a woman and to raise children who will serve god and be good contributors to society.

    October 11, 2011 at 2:28 am |
  14. Observer

    No one believes every word of the Bible. They just pick and choose whatever agrees with them and ignor the rest.

    That's why there are so many HYPOCRITICAL Christians trashing gays here. There are FAR FAR MORE Christians who commit adultery by remarrying than there are total number of gays. Shows you how much HYPOCRISY is involved.

    October 11, 2011 at 2:17 am |
  15. T in Dallas

    The bible exposes false prophets and teachers like this gay pastor. The Word of God does not agree with this gay pastor. Curious to know how he preaches against sin in this area to his awaiting congregation.

    October 11, 2011 at 2:08 am |
    • Rick

      more like the word of bronze age sheep buggerers

      October 11, 2011 at 5:53 am |
  16. angedelune

    as a gay male i hate to see these articles how in the world do we expect to be treated the same as everyone else and people continually set us apart. I don't gp to pride festivals normarch in them because i just want people to leave us alone and us stop acting like wearer different from anyone. I don't want special recognition just respect and the freedom to love my bf

    October 11, 2011 at 2:06 am |
    • angedelune

      * we are
      Sorry tablets don't keep up with how fast i type

      October 11, 2011 at 2:07 am |
  17. Grace

    sensative bunch – you come here to CNN for your daily gay news? Must be better places.

    October 11, 2011 at 1:58 am |
    • sensitive bunch

      GNN has an agenda. Not a true source for news. It is entertainment.

      October 11, 2011 at 2:00 am |
  18. Rebekah

    Tragic. No concrete right and wrong. PURE BLASPHEMY!!!

    October 11, 2011 at 1:54 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      Hos is this blasphemy? He has done no wrong in being gay. He has had no choice in the matter and I think it is time people realized that.

      October 11, 2011 at 5:09 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      oops hos=how

      October 11, 2011 at 5:15 am |
    • Rick

      It is not that there is no concrete right and wrong. It is that you may not possess the knowledge of right and wrong

      October 11, 2011 at 6:01 am |
  19. sensitive bunch

    GNN....the trusted name in gay news. Gotta have 1 gay story a day.

    October 11, 2011 at 1:52 am |
    • Observer

      Yep, lots of stories making hypocritical h0mophobes look bad.

      October 11, 2011 at 2:10 am |
  20. paul

    "First openly gay pastor ordained in the PCUSA speaks"...and Satan smiles and applauds in approval.

    October 11, 2011 at 1:50 am |
    • Grace

      paul – are you personally in a living arrangement with old Satan so that you can see his glee?

      October 11, 2011 at 1:56 am |
    • Rev. Dave

      It is the writings of Paul who got us into this mess. Take out the books written by Paul and you will have a completely different bible that is more humane. Paul was an agent of doubt and deceit.

      October 11, 2011 at 3:00 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.