Presby minister cleared in gay wedding

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A church court of Pittsburgh Presbytery ruled 9-0 that the Rev. Janet Edwards did not violate scripture or the constitution of the Presbyterian Church (USA) when she conducted what she has always said was the marriage of two women in 2005.

Since church and state define marriage as between a man and a woman, she cannot have done what she was accused of, the court ruled last week.

“It can’t be an offense to the constitution to attempt to do the impossible,” said the decision, read by the Rev. Stewart Pollock, chairman of the Permanent Judicial Commission of Pittsburgh Presbytery.

In 2005 the Rev. Edwards, a parish associate at the multi-denominational Community of Reconciliation in Oakland, conducted the ceremony in McKees Rocks. The Presbyterian Church (USA) says clergy may bless same-sex couples but “should not” offer a service that could be mistaken for a marriage. She argued that “should not” doesn’t mean “must not.”

The testimony at The Priory, a North Side hotel, was lopsided on the side of the defense. The prosecution called one witness, a church official who had told her that she could bless a gay couple, but not marry them.

The defense presented three biblical scholars and theologians who testified that her acceptance of same-sex marriage was within the Presbyterian tradition of interpreting scripture in its cultural context. They also called an authority on church law who said that it did not prohibit same-sex marriage.

Read the full story from the Post-Gazette.

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