Pastor Lisa

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Pastor Lisa

Lisa Larges has sought ordination by the Presbyterian Church for more than 20 years. She’s an out lesbian and, apparently, that’s more important to the church than her call from God to ministry or her ability to follow the life and teachings of Jesus. On Wednesday, a church court once again set a road block in her way.

"More than anything, I’m mindful of all the other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender candidates for ministry who only want to serve our church. The way forward for them need not be this complicated,” said Larges of the ruling.

Lisa is one of somewhere between 35 and 50 candidates for ministry in the Presbyterian church who are LGBT. She's one of a very brave few who are open about their sexuality, though, because within the Presbyterian church, the ability to be ordained is partially based on a sex standard of chastity in singleness or marriage? of the heterosexual variety.

Lisa is not daunted.

“It is clear to me that as long as the Presbyterian church practices faith-based discrimination, it will be fighting a losing battle, because it's already clear that Biblical scholarship, theological perspectives and cultural changes are moving our church inevitably toward inclusion,” proclaimed Lisa.

Though, it's not exactly moving quickly. A lifelong Presbyterian, Lisa became a candidate for ministry in the Twin Cities Presbytery (the local governing body of the church) in Minnesota in 1985. Because she felt as a matter of conscience that she could not serve the church without being open and honest about being a lesbian, Lisa came out to the Twin Cities committee overseeing candidates in 1991. The Twin Cities Presbytery affirmed her call to ministry as an open lesbian, but that affirmation was overturned in 1992 by a ruling from the highest judicial court in the Presbyterian Church.

A change in the church’s national policy, however, now allows individual exceptions to the national ban of LGBT ordination if a candidate submits a statement of conscience against the prohibition. Larges was the first to submit a statement of conscience calling the ban on gay and lesbian ministers “a mar upon the Church and a stumbling block to its mission.” After an almost 12-year process, the San Francisco Presbytery finally approved Lisa to move forward in the ordination process last January. It is this approval process that came under scrutiny today and was found faulty. Lisa will now have to be re-approved within the San Francisco Presbytery.

Lisa, though, remains steadfast in her commitment. She's dreaming of the day when her church finally catches up with her vision of inclusion because, as she says, “Until it does, our church will continue to wreak spiritual damage in the lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender persons and their families, and will turn away a whole generation of young people for whom the church’s current policy is simply unacceptable.”


Rev. Janet McCune Edwards, Ph.D., ordained in 1977 as Minister of Word and Sacrament

Let's keep an eye on her and the other movers and shakers within the Presbyterian church. Last June, the national church’s policy setting group, the General Assembly, voted to remove the language prohibiting gay and lesbian ordination from the church Constitution. The 173 Presbyteries in the U.S. are currently voting on this change, which needs a majority for ratification. Come June when all the votes are in, Lisa and her fellow candidates for ministry trying to live both their calling and their identity with integrity might just be one giant step closer to their dreams.

Until then, we'll just have to glean hope from her allies, like the Rev. Janet Edwards of the Pittsburgh Presbytery who see her clearly already, “Lisa embodies the openness and honesty that Jesus expects of us,” says Edwards on her blog. “She brings to mind His words in Matthew 5:8, 'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.'"

If you are a Presbyterian, here are some resources to consider:

More Light Presbyterians: a network of people seeking the full participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of faith in the life, ministry and witness of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

That All May Freely Serve: a group that advocates for a church that honors diversity and welcomes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons as full members eligible for ordination.

A Time to Embrace: a web site dedicated to respectful dialogue and reconciliation around the inclusion of our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender sisters and brothers in Christ.

Comments [8]

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

Yeah, it's kind of strange,

Yeah, it's kind of strange, even I couldn't find any coherent and consistent policy within the Lutheran Church. While the various churches can set their own policies on LGBT members and ministers, it would appear the Lutheran aligned universities are strongly associated with those churches who oppose LGBT persons.

Not2Taem's picture

I just read the article on

I just read the article on the News Wrap Up; Not so funny with the horror film comment. Sorry, I've been up to my eyeballs in paperwork and haven't caught the news in days. Glad to hear you are out of harms way. Have a Hot Toddy and find some flannel.

minniesota's picture

The weather has gotten colder

The weather has gotten colder so the Red River river may not rise as high as they were predicting yesterday. But some people have been evacuated. I'm not near any of the flood areas.

Still searching for the right brainy quote.

Not2Taem's picture

Can a river overflow after it

Can a river overflow after it freezes? Sounds like an excellent horror film.

Not2Taem's picture

Many Lutheran universities

Many Lutheran universities aren't exactly accepting of LGBT youth. TLU has a habit of inducing anxiety attacks.

CA_Medicine_Woman's picture

I just finished reading about

I just finished reading about how this is also an issue, though to a lesser extent, within the US Lutheran Church as well. Within the Lutherans, the various synods can individually decide matters regarding LGBT issues, but there is as of yet no coordinated national policy that is inclusive, especially within the ministry. It would now also seem that this lack of a coherent policy has led to discrimination at a Lutheran university in Indiana:

Valparaiso University student Tia Kolasa won a VU student senate seat in February, only to be removed due to a change in the bylaws that removes gay students from being classified as minorities. Valparaiso University, founded in 1859, is an independent coeducational institution of higher education with historic ties to the Lutheran church. While the university claims it does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender, disability, sexual orientation or religion in it's admission of students or in its employment practices, the university qualifies that they retain the right to “promote the teachings of the church and to exercise preferences in admissions and employment in favor of Lutherans.”,gay-student-removed-0325.article

Grace Moon's picture

*off topic* Minn whats

*off topic*
Minn whats happening with the frozen and overflowing river?

tweet tweet @gracemoon

minniesota's picture

Thanks for letting us know

Thanks for letting us know about the courage of Pastor Lisa, Ashley.

Still searching for the right brainy quote.