• Steven Marsh

Thirty Years of Ordination

I passed my oral examination for ordination on the floor of a presbytery meeting at First Presbyterian Church, on a sweltering hot day, in Bakersfield, California in June 1982. I was ordained thirty years ago, August 15, 1982, at Millbrook Presbyterian Church in Fresno, California. Both First and Millbrook were congregations in the Presbytery of San Joaquin; both United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America congregations. Those congregations are no longer in the Presbyterian Church (USA), a denomination which was formed by the merger of the UPCUSA and PCUS denominations in 1983.

Wow, thirty years…how the landscape has changed.

I am concerned about those teaching elders, ruling elders and congregations who have left and are considering leaving the denomination. Jesus is Savior and Lord, yet many in the church have made (Jesus + sexual orientation) the criteria for an orthodox understanding of soteriology and ecclesiology.

What is essential in a Reformed soteriology and ecclesiology; union in Christ or sex?

I applaud being faithful sexually. I question making one’s sexual orientation determinative for membership and service in the church/Church. The narrow fundamentalism on the left and right is inexcusable when it comes to this matter of living faithfully in one’s sexual orientation as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

From my perspective, unity trumps schism.

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