One of the largest Protestant denominations in the US, the Presbyterian Church, has changed the definition of marriage in the church’s constitution to include gay marriage.
he change was approved by a majority of the church’s regional bodies – called presbyteries – on Tuesday following the recommendation of the Presbyterian General Assembly last year.
“With the positive vote on (the marriage amendment), our denomination steps forward into a new chapter – one that values our past journeys of faith, respects the importance of pastoral discretion in congregational matters, and yet offers to the world a compelling witness about how God’s grace is active in loving, mutual relationships,” the Rev. Randy Bush, pastor of East Liberty Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, said in a statement.
The vote changes the definition of marriage in the church’s constitution from “a man and a woman” to “two people, traditionally a man and a woman.”
This will allow gay couples to be married in congregations under the jurisdiction of the Presbyterian Church, though the change was clear to leave the decision to marry couples to the discretion of the officiant.
The Presbyterian Church has about 1.8 million members in 10,000 congregations and is among the largest Protestant denominations in the US.
The constitutional change comes as gay marriage has picked up unprecedented momentum in the US. Currently, 37 states allow gay marriage and 13 have banned it.