Archive for ‘Marriage Equality’

May 15, 2012

Janie Spahr’s “rebuke”

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-12.0100 Censures

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.

D-12.0102 Rebuke

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)

May 3, 2012

Janie Spahr Update: Redwoods Presbytery Meeting

The Stated Meeting of The Presbytery of the Redwoods will be held on Tuesday, May 15, 2012, at 10:00 a.m. The Permanent Judicial Commission’s report on the Rev. Dr. Jane Adams (Janie) Spahr’s GAPJC decision is scheduled for 11:15 a.m.

Summary of the Decision:

Same-sex marriages were sanctioned by the State of California from June 20, 2008, through November 4, 2008. During that time period Spahr performed wedding ceremonies for approximately sixteen same-sex couples.

In 2010, a prosecuting committee of the Presbytery brought charges against Spahr for officiating at these ceremonies and a three day trial was held before the PPJC in August of 2010. At the conclusion of the trial the PPJC found her guilty of three of the four charges, issued a Rebuke, and enjoined her “to avoid such offenses in the future.” The three charges read in salient part as follows:

  1. Committing the offense of representing that a same-sex ceremony was a marriage by performing a ceremony in which two women were married under the laws of the State of California and thereafter signing their Certificate of Marriage as the person solemnizing the marriage;
  2. Persisting in a pattern or practice of disobedience concerning an authoritative interpretation of the Book of Order, in that under the laws of the State of California, she represented that no fewer than fifteen such additional ceremonies she performed were marriages of persons of the same sex;
  3. Acting in violation of the authoritative interpretation of the Book of Order by failing to be governed by the polity of the PC(USA) in violation of her ordination vows.

The Legal Defense Team is asking the Presbytery to not rebuke Janie; in fact, to refuse to impose the censure.

There is a possibility Janie, the couples, and supporters will be given an opportunity to speak during the presbytery meeting.

Make plans to attend!

First Presbyterian Church of San Anselmo
72 Kensington Road
San Anselmo, CA 94960
Follow Rev. Jane Spahr Trial Updates on Facebook.
May 25, 2011

Letter from Minnesota: Dear friends and family…

A friend of TAMFS, Heather Ferguson, wrote this letter to her friends and family. Deeply moved, we share it with you:

Dear friends and family,

Since the late-night Saturday vote at the Minnesota Legislature that put a constitutional amendment banning legal recognition of same-sex marriage on the Minnesota ballot in 2012, I have had to call up courage just to breathe.

I have been confronted these past 3 weeks as deeply as I can ever remember.

I was raised with a powerful faith in the ideals of our United States of America: the promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; of liberty and justice for all. Sitting through legislative proceedings was a gut-wrenching experience (as many know from seeing media coverage, including

Today I am feeling a grave violation of those promises.

You all know of, and many of you were there to witness, Annika’s and my wedding 20 years ago this year. Because you have journeyed with us through our lives, you understand that Annika, Josiah and Gabe are the greatest gifts, the greatest blessings I have been given.

I want to introduce you to my new hero, because right now, he can say what needs to be said better than I can. His name is John Kriesel, and he is a Republican legislator in Minnesota, whose story goes like this:

If this was 5, 6 years ago, I probably would have voted ‘yes.’ (in favor of banning same-sex marriage) ‘Cause I didn’t think about it. I just thought about my family. I thought about what affects my wife and kids and nothing else.

“Everything changed. I went to Iraq. I was in an incident. I nearly died. I remember laying there, looking down and seeing my legs mangled, and pretty much guaranteeing that I was done. I was a done deal. I thought that was where my life was going to end.

“And I remember thinking of my wife. And my kids. That’s what crossed my mind. And that’s what kept me fighting; the love I have for them.

“It woke me up. It changed me. Because of that, it’s made me think about this issue. And say, ‘You know what, what would I do without my wife?’ She makes me happy. Life is hard. We’re in a really tough time in our history. Happiness is so, so hard to find for people. So they find it, they find someone that makes them happy, and we want to take that person away. We want to say, ‘Oh no, you can be together, you can love that person, but you can’t marry them.’ You can’t marry them. That’s wrong.”

Rep. Kriesel led 4 Republicans to vote No against the constitutional amendment. And the sad truth is, a couple Democrats voted Yes for this initiative that hurts families like mine, while helping no one.

So we can’t rest easy. This is not partisan politics. This is about the well being of all families, and I urge you to stay informed by signing up for

In closing, let me just say that I’m trying to understand this in the way I do a big blizzard, where what you thought you’d be doing (or would rather be doing) stops and instead you go out and get to work shoveling, helping others in the process and then at least being grateful that Minnesota’s harsh climate has brought people together. Here, the work is talking to people both who believe in fairness and who are unsure, so that together we can have a deeper understanding about why this constitutional amendment is wrong for Minnesota.

If you are in Minnesota, or have loved ones here, let’s stay in touch about how to work together to defeat this. And whether you live here or elsewhere, please give as generously as you can to an organization I know personally and hold in the highest esteem: The link is titled “membership” — this is their standard donation form.

love — really, really, so much love to you for all you mean to us — throughout our lifetime, as well as at this very difficult time,