After a lifetime of faithful service, Rev. Jane Adams Spahr was called out of retirement to face a church court. The charge against Rev. Spahr was that she had performed marriages for couples of the same gender. In other words, the “crime” of Rev. Spahr was showing grace to people that the church would shun.
This weekend she will reach the end of her appeal process in San Antonio, Texas. Finally, a verdict will be reached on a trial that has lasted years. When she was convicted at a regional hearing in California, the judicial panel had an interesting comment. They said Rev. Spahr did what Jesus would have done, but until the church changes its stand on homosexuality they had no choice but to convict her.
Being in the room at the time, I was filled with shame for my denomination. They had publically admitted that they considered the teachings of Jesus as having less authority than the rules of our denomination.
I cannot guess what the verdict will be this weekend, but I do know that Janie Spahr is no longer on trial. When the courts determined that she was following Jesus, and that the church itself did not have the courage to follow as well, Janie Spahr was for all intents and purposes ruled innocent. At this point, it is we, the Presbyterian Church, who stand trial.
I remember when Rev. Jane came to St. Andrew’s to preach one Sunday. I made sure I got a picture of myself with her; I was so proud of her and wanted to prod myself on to keep being strong and doing what was right. I am still so proud of her!
You’re so right Jim. It is not Janie that is on trial. It IS the Presbyterian Church that needs be judged.
Rev Janie Spahr should be an inspiration that the rest of us look to in times of difficulty!
I followed the whole business in 1991 when Janie was called to the Downtown Church in Rochester, NY. I had worked in that church before seminary and was so proud of the way they arranged for her to minister there anyway. I was on the mailing list for years and then lost touch. Yesterday, on our Pacific Northwest UCC FB page up popped an article about the most recent trial. I am shocked (although, why should I be?) and dismayed that the Presbyterian Church is still going after her in such a vicious was. Janie has been an inspiration to so many of us for so long. I am now retired and less active in ministry and so sad to discover she is still being hounded in days of retirement that she should be enjoying like my partner and I are. Yesterday, in my state, Governor Gregoire signed our marriage equality law and we have been so overjoyed! This news of Janie brought me down last night. It must end! The Presbyterians need to decide that the whole family of God is worthy! Mimi Lane
Poor Janie. She has been so through much grief, and yet she stands firm and her faith remains strong. I weep when I see Presbyterian churches leave the PC(USA) because they can’t fathom the notion that LGBT persons might be married or ordained. When we all of us come to our senses? Come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Isn’t Jane one who was reprimanded by the Presbyterian Church for participating in the Reimagining Conference in Minneapolis in 1993 or 1994?
In my eyes, the trail of the Presbyterian Church (USA) ended when those representing us said that Jane did what Jesus would do and then failed to support their own understanding of the Gospel. Verdict: guilty. Pray that “we” have opportunities in the future to demonstrate the grace we claim to have received.