Presbyterian Minister Faces Punishment by Cincinnati Presbytery on Monday, June 16, 2003

Soulforce Supporters will stand vigil outside meeting in support of Rev. Van Kuiken who faces possible defrocking and expulsion for performing same-sex marriage ceremonies

Soulforce Press Release, June 13, 2003
For Immediate Release
Contact: Laura Montgomery Rutt
Cell 717-278-0592 email:soulforcemedia@aol.com

Cincinnati – On Monday, June 16, Rev. Stephen Van Kuiken, minister of Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati, faces possible defrocking and expulsion from the Presbyterian Church (USA) for performing same-sex marriage ceremonies.

A special meeting of the Cincinnati Presbytery has been scheduled for Monday, June 16 at 7pm at Lakeside Presbyterian Church, 2690 Dixie Highway in Ft. Mitchell, Kentucky. The purpose of the meeting is to act and vote on the Committee on Ministry’s recommendation to “presume the Rev. A. Stephen Van Kuiken’s renunciation of jurisdiction." This recommendation is based on the fact that Rev. Van Kuiken was found guilty of having “performed and/or condoned and facilitated the performance by others of same-sex marriage ceremonies at the Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church.”

"This meeting is not a judicial proceeding, and it circumvents the due process afforded by the church courts,” declared Rev. Van Kuiken. "I am facing removal because I have simply implemented my congregation’s policy and performed marriages our Session has approved. I feel I have done nothing wrong, and I believe I am being obedient to the teachings of Jesus. "

In April, Rev Van Kuiken was put on trial for performing a marriage ceremony for a same-sex couple. As a result of the trial, he was rebuked and directed to “perform marriage ceremonies only for a man and a woman.” He recently performed another marriage ceremony despite this order, with the approval of his church’s governing body (Session).

“Even if we called a marriage ceremony a ‘holy union’, we would still be in violation. The church says that we are not even allowed to consider it equivalent to marriage, and we do,” continued Van Kuiken.

Soulforce, an interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, stood vigil outside the trial in April in support of Rev. Van Kuiken. Soulforce representatives will also be present at Lakeside Presbyterian Church on Monday to vigil in support of Rev. Van Kuiken, beginning at 6pm.

After the meeting at Lakeside Presbyterian, Rev. Van Kuiken will move outside to make a statement and will be available to press for questions and answers. Additionally, members of Soulforce and That All May Freely Serve, an organization which advocates for equal rights for GLBT people in the Presbyterian Church, will be available for additional comments.

“We are trying to shed light on an issue the Presbyterian Church would rather keep in the dark – because we know that we are all equal in the eyes of God, even if the church hasn’t come to terms with it yet,” said Bill Carpenter, Soulforce Rapid Response Team Coordinator.

Soulforce is encouraging members of press and those in other denominations to come and be witness to this meeting, which has national implications in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

For more information, see www.soulforce.org. For media interviews, call 717-278-0592.

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Laura Montgomery Rutt
Director of Communications
Soulforce, Inc
Laura@soulforce.org
www.soulforce.org

Soulforce is a national interfaith movement committed to ending spiritual violence perpetuated by religious policies and teachings against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. Soulforce employs the nonviolent principles of Gandhi and King to the liberation of sexual and gender minorities.

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