Statement of Rev. Stephen Van Kuiken Regarding Verdict of PJC of Cincinnati – April 21, 2003

Rev. Stephen Van Kuiken’s response to the decision of the Permanent Judicial Commission of the Presbytery of Cincinnati

(The text of the verdict is found at www.presbyteryofcincinnati.org.)

I have mixed feelings about the decision. Sadly, the PJC has decided that my actions of performing ceremonies for same-sex couples that are Christian marriages or their equivalent are a violation of our church law. Today, I have been found guilty for simply doing what my congregation has asked me to do.

The penalty of rebuke seems somewhat encouraging to me, but it is also confusing. It states that my actions are wrong and implies that I should stop doing them. It says that I cannot legally follow the inclusive policies of the congregation that I serve. But the PJC already knows that this is not a position from which I will be rehabilitated. This only leaves me and others in a state of limbo with more accusations and trials facing us in the future. Any substantial resolution has been pushed into the indefinite future. So the rebuke is a warning to me that next time the penalty will be more severe.

I intend to appeal the guilty verdict because I believe that this decision of the PJC is theologically wrong and contrary to the Scriptures. And because it is contrary to the Scriptures, it is also unconstitutional.

The PJC’s decision regarding ordination did not address the rightness or wrongness of ordaining sexually active gay and lesbian persons but focused on the technicality of the role of the pastor in ordination. It is significant that pastors are let off the hook with ordinations and that only the session, the governing body of the local church, should be held accountable.

The environment in the PC(USA) continues to be harsh for gay, lesbian and progressive heterosexual persons who want to live open and authentic lives. We continue to inflict spiritual violence upon our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. We continue to allow this new fundamentalism to control our denomination. These laws still exist as a rationale for continued bigotry, discrimination and abuse of gay and lesbian persons in our society, because they state that their sexual orientation is sinful and wrong.

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