The Presbyterian Church USA made a historic decision Tuesday night to formally recognize gay marriage and allow same-sex couples to marry in its congregations. The largest Presbyterian denomination in the U. As of Tuesday night, the vote stood at 87 presbyteries in favor to 41 against with one tied. Brian D. Ellison, executive director of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, which advocates for the inclusion of gay people in the church, told the Times.
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The amendment approved by the Presbyterian General Assembly requires approval from a majority of the regional presbyteries, which will vote on the change over the next year. But in a separate policy change that takes effect at the end of this week's meeting, delegates voted to allow ministers to preside at gay weddings in states where the unions are legal and local congregational leaders approve. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia recognize same-sex marriage. Sign up for breaking news alerts from NBC News. The votes, during a national meeting in Detroit, were a sweeping victory for Presbyterian gay-rights advocates. The denomination in eliminated barriers to ordaining clergy with same-sex partners, but ministers were still barred from celebrating gay marriages and risked church penalties for doing so. Alex McNeill, executive director of More Light Presbyterians, a gay advocacy group, said the decisions Thursday were "an answer to many prayers.
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Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster
Many of the largest U. At the same time, in the past two decades, several other religious groups also have moved to allow same-sex couples to marry within their traditions. Another mainline Protestant denomination, the Presbyterian Church U.
Presbyterian churches or Reformed churches make up one of the largest branches of Protestant Christianity today with a worldwide membership of about 75 million. The roots of the Presbyterian Church trace back to John Calvin, a 16th-century French theologian, and minister, who led the Reformation in Geneva, Switzerland beginning in John Calvin , John Knox.