Lesbian takes step toward Presbyterian ordination
by Seth Hemmelgarn
A San Francisco woman took a step Tuesday night toward becoming the country's first out lesbian to be ordained as a Presbyterian minister under a 2006 policy allowing candidates to make a statement of conscience objecting to the church's ban on ordaining openly LGBT people.
Commissioners of the Presbytery of San Francisco voted 167-151 to approve Lisa Larges's statement of conscience. The vote took place at First Presbyterian Church of Richmond.
"I feel proud of the Presbytery for having the courage to do the right thing," Larges, 44, said.
She said she could now move on to the trials of ordination, the process all candidates go through. In that process, she'll answer questions about her character, faith, and theology. Then, she'll face another vote, which would come in April at the earliest.
The Presbytery of San Francisco includes 77 Bay Area churches. Larges estimated there are about 29,000 church members in the region. She said there are 2.1 million people in the national church.
Larges acknowledged opposition to her ordination. "It's just flat out heterosexism," she said. "It's still alive and well in the church. It's the last bastion to try and keep out LGBT people."
Other presbyteries have ordained LGBT people in spite of the rules, Larges said.
Larges, who is blind, moved to San Francisco in 1985 and is a graduate of the San Francisco Theological Seminary. She has made previous attempts at ordination, before the 2006 policy was in place. In 1992, she got approval from a presbytery in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, where she previously lived. However, that was overturned by the church's highest court. In 2004, she made an attempt with the Presbytery of San Francisco, but she lost the vote.
Richard Lindsay organized media Tuesday for That All May Freely Serve, a national organization that works for LGBT inclusion in the church. Larges serves as minister coordinator for the group.
Lindsay, who's known Larges for seven years, said, "I don't think there's a better candidate for ministry than Lisa. She's an incredibly charismatic person and incredibly gifted. The church would be crazy to pass up the opportunity to have her serve."