For the first time in California, a Presbyterian minister was charged by her denomination for performing legal marriages.
The Rev. Janie Spahr faced a pretrial hearing on March 3, 2010, in Rohnert Park, Calif., based on charges for an alleged disciplinary offense in the Presbyterian Church (USA) for officiating at the marriage of Sara Taylor and Sherrie Holmes in June 2008.
Janie is the founder of Spectrum LGBT Center (formerly Ministry of Light). She has a long history with charges being filed against her in various church courts. She has now been charged with church-related charges of officiating at a legal wedding under the laws of the State of California.
(Media-Newswire.com) – For the first time in California, a Presbyterian minister was charged by her denomination for performing legal marriages. The Rev. Janie Spahr, faced a pretrial hearing on March 3, 2010, in Rohnert Park, Calif., based on charges for an alleged disciplinary offense in the Presbyterian Church USA for officiating at the marriage of Sara Taylor and Sherrie Holmes in June 2008.
The charges came as a result of allegations filed with the Presbytery of the Redwoods, a regional body, made by a member of a local church. The allegations were reviewed by the Investigating Committee of the Presbytery who then charged her with a violation of her ordination vows. Rev. Spahr officiated at many legal, same gender marriages that are still legal in California, since Proposition 8 did not annul any marriages. More than 11,000 same-sex couples are legally married in California.
For the past 500 years the church and state have participated together in celebrating marriages that are authorized by the civil authority and solemnized in religious ceremonies. Should the Rev. Spahr be found guilty of the offense by her Presbytery, it would be the first time a minister in the Presbyterian Church USA would be disciplined for celebrating a marriage authorized by the State. At a pretrial hearing held March 3rd the Rev. Spahr pled not guilty. The trial before the Presbytery of the Redwoods Permanent Judicial Commission is expected to be held either the week of August 23rd or the week of September 20th. The exact date has yet to be announced.
Rev. Spahr remains in good standing within the church and is honorably retired. Rev. Spahr’s advocates in this church proceeding are Scott Clark, a former attorney who is now a candidate for Ministry in the Presbyterian Church and Beverly Brewster, a Presbyterian Minister.
In 2008, the Presbyterian Church USA national body took a step toward full equality for gay people in the denomination when it passed a constitutional amendment to eliminate all bars for membership or ordination. The amendment received historic levels of support from the 173 regional presbyteries but fell short of receiving the two-thirds vote needed for ratification. The denomination will hold its next biennial meeting July 3-10, 2010, in Minneapolis, Minn. Full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people will be on the table again.
To find out more, visit http://www.revjanespahr.org/.