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Mid-Kentucky Presbytery Voting On Same-Sex Marriage on Saturday

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Representatives from more than 50 congregations that make up the Mid-Kentucky Presbytery will convene in Louisville on Saturday to vote on whether to approve same-sex marriage as part of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s constitution.

The votes taking place this weekend will count as just 1 of 172 presbytery votes that make up Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), whose headquarters is located in Louisville. As it stands now, the national vote is 55 in favor of new language that would recognize marriage as love between two people.

Twenty-two presbyteries have voted against it.

“We have a lot of congregations who, this will upset them if this passes. We have other congregations wondering why it’s taken this long,” said Rev. Dr. Peggy Hinds, associate general presbyter for the Mid-Kentucky Presbytery.

Presbytery Church (U.S.A) voted to change the church’s constitution--also known as the Book of Order--at last year’s General Assembly. The issue now requires a majority of the 172 presbyteries to approve that change.

In Kentucky there are three regional presbyteries: Transylvania (eastern Kentucky); Mid-Kentucky; and Western Kentucky.

Each presbytery consists of several congregations from the regions. The Mid-Kentucky Presbytery includes churches from Louisville to Frankfort and down to Glascow, Harris said.

Presbyteries have two years to vote on the amendment. The Presbytery of Transylvania representing eastern Kentucky has already voted in support of the amendment. (Here's a map)

Here’s an excerpt of the current language in the Book of Order:
Marriage is a civil contract between a woman and a man. For Christians marriage is a covenant through which a man and a woman are called to live out together before God their lives of discipleship.
Here’s an excerpt from the proposed change:
Marriage involves a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman, to love and support each other for the rest of their lives.
Harris said she does not want to guess how her presbytery and its congregations will vote, but she said there will be good discussion on the subject.

“I will tell you, our tendency in the past on similar topics is we tend to vote progressive. And if that’s the case then we will probably vote for it," she said.

Harris recognizes that it’s a tough subject for some, but that there's always good conversation amongst members.

“We can debate the topic and then go have lunch together and laugh together and enjoy one another,” she said.

But there will be some who are unhappy with how the vote goes, she said.

Some individual congregations have already voted to approve and support same-sex marriage within their practices, which Harris said they’re allowed to do. But she said “if they are in line with our current Book of Order they would not.”

Regardless, some have decided to go against the Book of Order, which is called a “scruple.” In fact, Harris said, the Book of Order allows individuals to claim a scruple against something they don’t agree with, “with good reason.”

“People have to follow their conscious--what they believe God is telling them to be the truth," she said.

This happened at the Crescent Hill Presbyterian Church several years ago, when the church decided to elect a gay elder to the ruling committee, said Pastor Jane Larsen-Wigger of Crescent Hill Presbyterian Church.

As for the same-sex marriage amendment, Larson-Wigger said she's voting for it.

“I would guess that most of my church is in favor of this,” she said. "Marriage is about two people wanting to make a covenant to one another in love and that’s what we should be encouraging in the church."

Over at the Highlands Presbyterian Church, Pastor Cynthia Campbell said its likely that her church representatives will approve the amendment. But she also said it's up to the individual commissioners to decide on how they will vote.

"I will personally be very pleased if and when this change makes it possible for us to be open to that," she said.

Campbell said it's up to individual ministers and congregations to allow and perform same-sex marriages. And she said part of that is affirmed in the new language, which says that no one or no congregation is required to perform any ceremony or marriage that they're uncomfortable with.

The vote will take place Saturday at the Harvey Browne Presbyterian Church in St. Matthews.