A Calvert City, Kentucky Presbyterian church has been ordered to vacate its premises after refusing to accept the changed description of marriage issued by the Presbyterian Church (USA)
The First Presbyterian Church of Calvert City,., asked to be dismissed from the denomination after its national governing body,changed its description of marriage in 2015.
The new description reads in part: “Marriage involves a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman, to love and support each other for the rest of their lives,” according to the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s website.
In response, the Calvert City church’s 27 congregants voted 22-5 in May 2015 to pursue a gracious dismissal,
In response, the Presbytery of Western Kentucky, which serves as the regional governing body, has asked the congregation to vacate the church primness by April 19.
Clerk of session Paul Ambler, whose wife is the pastor, said that the congregation supports civil rights but does not wish to bring secular practices into a church context.
“I’m a real strong believer in the civil rights of people. They can enter into any sort of civil agreement that they want, but I don’t see the need to pull that into the church context when the Bible says it is specifically against that,” Ambler said.
The presbytery has retained Thomas Miller, a Paducah attorney, to represent it in legal proceedings; Greg Northcutt is representing the Calvert City congregation. So far no legal actions have been filed, Miller said.
“The church and its assets are ultimately owned and controlled by the denomination, which is the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the matter is being handled in accordance with the denomination’s constitution and its internal process,” Miller said.
Ambler emphasized that his church’s opinion is not necessarily meant to be taken as a condemnation of what he calls “alternative lifestyles.”
“This is a land built on freedom of religion, and that includes the right to repudiate secular practices within the church context.”