On Saturday, the Presbyterian Church
will ordain Scott Anderson, its first openly gay minister.
Anderson's ordination comes after the 2
million member Presbyterian Church (USA) began welcoming non-celibate
gay clergy in July. A policy change decades in the making.
In the spring of 1990, Anderson was
serving as the head pastor of Bethany Presbyterian in Sacramento,
California when he was outed by two parishioners. Soon after, he
departed from the church.
“Getting outed at Bethany was both
the best and worst moment of my life,” Anderson is quoted as saying
at the Christian blog JohnShore.com.
“On the one hand, it was so freeing and empowering to finally be
honest about the truth of who I am. On the other hand, it forced me
to step away from my passion. The gay issue had never been part of
my ministry at Bethany; it hadn't played any role at all in our
conversations there. When out of the blue it became the
conversation, I thought it best if I voluntarily resigned from
Bethany. I didn't want the tumult caused by my staying to ultimately
prove disruptive in the life of the church.”
Anderson and his partner Ian
MacAllister have been together 20 years.
Saturday's ceremony at the Covenant
Presbyterian Church in Madison, Wisconsin is expected to be protested
by the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church.
“That's an important event in Heaven
and on Earth,” Margie Phelps, daughter of Fred Phelps, who founded
the Topeka, Kansas-based church, told WISC-TV. “And it's our duty
as the church of the Lord, Jesus Christ, to come to the scene and
remind people of their duty to God, so that's why we're coming.”
Other mainline Protestant denominations
in the United States have approved the ordination of gay clergy in
recent years, including the Episcopal Church, the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America and the United Church of Christ.
The ordination of two gay bishops
prompted conservatives to split from the Episcopal Church and form
their own church.