The ruling by the nation's largest Presbyterian denomination Thursday to allow its pastors to officiate same-sex weddings was a major victory for a Kansas City-based organization that has spent years trying to make the church more inclusive.
By a vote of 429 to 175, leaders of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted to initiate a process to redefine marriage in official texts as being between two people. They also voted with a smaller margin to allow Presbyterian pastors to decide as individuals whether or not to perform same-sex marriages.
Kansas City-based Covenant Network of Presbyterians, one of two national LGBT rights groups within the church, was a major player in moving the church toward more inclusive policies.
Executive Director Rev. Brian Ellison, who is also a KCUR contributor, says much of his work with the organization has been pointed towards the ruling.
"I hope that it will reaffirm the idea that the church is a place for everyone, that really all are welcome," Ellison says. "Not just to come through the doors but to receive the full blessing of what the church has to offer."
The movement to change the church’s official language on marriage still has to be ratified by the majority of 172 Presbyteries over the next year. Pastors can begin performing same-sex marriages immediately.
Ellison says there is additional work for his organization in helping churches across the country understand the action.