Delegates of the Presbyterian Church (USA) on Thursday agreed to allow the ordination of non-celibate gay clergy, but rejected gay marriage.

Meeting in Minneapolis for their biennial convention, delegates followed the recommendation of its Church Orders and Ministry Committee and voted in favor of allowing gay clergy.

The church currently requires that officers either be in a monogamous heterosexual marriage or remain celibate. The new language, which removes any mention of sexuality, was approved in a 373 to 323 vote.

The change will need to be ratified by a majority of the church's 173 U.S. presbyteries before coming into force. A similar measure approved two years ago by delegates died in the hands of the district churches.

During a press conference after the vote, Elder Theresa Denton, who headed the committee, said she understood the issue was controversial.

“Faithful people often disagree,” she told reporters. “What I would like to hear the conversation be about is not our fear and our anxiety but trust.”

Delegates also decided to put aside altering their definition of marriage for now.

The decision to shelve altering the definition of marriage in the church constitution (the Directory for Worship) from a covenant between “a woman and a man” to between “two people” was narrow, with only 51% of delegates agreeing. The issue might return on Friday if enough delegates agree.

Currently, Presbyterian ministers can bless the unions of gay couples so long as ceremonies are not structured as weddings.

In recent years, the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in American have approved the ordination of gay clergy. Conservatives split to form their own church after the Episcopal Church installed two gay bishops. Both churches are moving closer to blessing gay marriage. ELCA Lutheran churches can do so at their own discretion.