A regional body of the Presbyterian Church in the USA (PCUSA) in Virginia will soon be ordaining the first clergy candidate who identifies as gender nonbinary. The Rev. Fred Holbrook, clerk for the Presbytery, said that Cook fulfilled the standards necessary for ordination. “Jess Cook preached and was examined by the Presbytery. Her sermon and examination were approved and an administrative commission was designated to ordain Jess as a minister of the Word and Sacrament according to our denomination’s Constitution,” explained Holbrook.
The Rev. Sarah Nave of Covenant Presbyterian Church, said she was “thrilled” by the news of Cook’s ordination. The news was also welcomed by an LGBT advocacy group that seeks to influence PCUSA on sexual ethics and justice issues. “We have an obligation to help LGBTQIA+ youth,” the group said. Over the past several years PCUSA has become increasingly theologically liberal in its stance on LGBT issues. This included passing a measure in 2010 that allowed presbyteries to ordain non-celibate homosexuals and changing their definition of marriage in 2015 from “a man and a woman” to “two people, traditionally a man and a woman.”
These denomination-wide changes have resulted in hundreds of congregations leaving PCUSA over theological differences. Earlier this year, Jamie Shupe, the first person in the US to be legally recognized as “nonbinary,” announced that he had reverted back to his biological sex and considered non-binary identity a “sham.” “To the children, I say: I understand that you are reluctant to take the advice of older people and would prefer to test things out yourself, but you can’t walk this harm back. You only have one body,” said Shupe. “You only have one reproductive system. Please don’t ruin it chasing the fantasy that you are something other than your biological sex.”
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