Presbyterian Minister on Trial in Cincinnati: Soulforce Responds with Direct Action and Training April 7-9, to Support Rev. Stephen Van Kuiken and Mount Auburn Presbyterian Church

SOULFORCE Press Release:
Updated March 26, 2003
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell: 717-278-0592

(Cincinnati, March 19, 2003) – The trial of Rev. Stephen Van Kuiken, minister of Mount Auburn Presbyterian Church (USA), begins on April 8, 2003 in the Cincinnati Presbytery. Soulforce, a national interfaith organization committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people will be in Cincinnati April 7-9 to support Rev. Van Kuiken and the congregation of Mount Auburn.

A complaint was filed against Rev. Van Kuiken last year because he publicly stated that he will not abide by the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) constitution’s ordination standard of fidelity in marriage/chastity in singleness, or the denomination’s prohibition against marrying same-gender couples. Charges were then filed by the investigating committee, calling for a trial.

Soulforce received an invitation from Mount Auburn to conduct a nonviolence training and spiritual preparation at the church prior to the trial. Mount Auburn is located at 103 William Howard Taft, in Cincinnati. Soulforce then plans to conduct a silent vigil during the trial, the location of which has not yet been announced by the Presbyterian Church.

"I am deeply honored that Soulforce is standing with me during the trial," said Rev. Van Kuiken. "We have laws in the Presbyterian church that enforce a single, narrow interpretation of the Bible upon the whole church. I must oppose these unjust church laws because they inflict a spiritual violence upon us that intimidates and threatens gay, lesbian and progressive members into silence and secrecy."

An anti-gay member of the PCUSA has filed over twenty complaints against Presbyterians for these reasons all over the country. These are the first complaints to result in a trial.

"Charges were filed against Rev. Van Kuiken for not discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation in ordination or gender in marriage," said Chris Purdom, a life-long Presbyterian and a supporter of Soulforce. "It is sad and disturbing that the Presbyterian Church would put a minister on trial for treating all the members of his congregation equally."

Soulforce Schedule of events:

Monday, April 7:
* 7:00 pm – Soulforce Nonviolence Training – based on the nonviolent principles of Gandhi and King, Mount Auburn Presbyterian Church. Free and open to the public.

Tuesday, April 8:
* 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm – Spiritual Renewal and Preparation for Action, Mount Auburn Presbyterian Church.
* 4:00 pm – Press conference and Vigil at trial location
* 6:00 pm – Trial Begins Immanuel Presbyterian Church at 3445 Clifton Avenue, Cincinnati

Soulforce employs the nonviolent principles of Gandhi and King to the liberation of sexual and gender minorities, and is asking supporters to join together in Cincinnati to support Rev. Van Kuiken and members of his congregation.

For more information about Soulforce and/or additional details about the trial, see . Information about Mount Auburn Presbyterian Church can be found at