Today is the day that our friend and co-founder Janie Spahr goes before the Presbytery of the Redwoods to be rebuked. She was charged — by one anonymous person, which is legal in our system — for celebrating the legal marriages of same-sex couples. The presbytery, the synod, and the General assembly permanent judicial commissions (church courts) all ruled against Janie. Janie has insisted all along that by officiating at these weddings was part of the pastoral care she gives; to not do so, to walk away and say “no” to these couples, would be reneging on her responsibilities as a Minister of the Word and Sacrament.*
Here’s “chapter and verse” from the PC(USA)’s Book of Order which, along with the Book of Confessions, comprises our constitution:
D-12.0000 CENSURE AND RESTORATION IN A DISCIPLINARY CASE
D-12.0101 Degrees of Church Censure
The degrees of church censure are rebuke, rebuke with supervised rehabilitation, temporary exclusion from exercise of ordered ministry or membership, and removal from ordered ministry or membership.
Rebuke is the lowest degree of censure for an offense and is completed when pronounced. (D-11.0403e) It consists of setting forth publicly the character of the offense, together with reproof, which shall be pronounced in the following or like form:
Whereas, you, (Name) ___ , have been found guilty of the offense(s) of ___ (here insert the offense), and by such offense(s) you have acted contrary to (the Scriptures and/or the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)); now, therefore, the Presbytery (or Session) of______, in the name and authority of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), expresses its condemnation of this offense, and rebukes you. You are enjoined to be more watchful and avoid such offense in the future. We urge you to use diligently the means of grace to the end that you may be more obedient to our Lord Jesus Christ.
This formal rebuke shall be followed by intercessory prayer to Almighty God.
We hold Janie, the couples, legal counsel, family, friends and other supporters in prayer. We also hold in prayer those who have opposed Janie, that their minds may be opened and that they may realize that they are saying no to love. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., proclaimed that “we will not be satisfied until ‘justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’”
For more information go to Rev. Janie Spahr Charged (Again) by Presbyterian Church (Facebook) or Rev. Janie Spahr Trial Updates.
* Now called Teaching Elder in the PC(USA)