Rev. Scott Anderson

Rev. Scott Anderson

STEVE APPS/Wisconsin State Journal

Presbyterians who oppose the planned ordination of a gay Madison man have filed a complaint with the national church in hopes of derailing the process.

The action attempts to reverse a decision by a regional governing body of the Presbyterian Church (USA) to ordain Scott Anderson, 54, who has said he has been in a committed relationship with a man for 19 years.

The church's constitution bars non-chaste gays and lesbians from the ministry. However, candidates for ordination can file an objection based on conscience, which Anderson did.

The regional governing body — called the John Knox Presbytery — voted 81-25 on Feb. 20 to ordain Anderson. Supporters said Anderson's departure from official teaching was not serious enough to overshadow his ministry gifts.

Opponents have appealed the decision to the synod level, the next step in the church hierarchy.

The complaint was brought by the board of Caledonia Presbyterian Church, a 60-member church in rural Portage, and its pastor, the Rev. Paula Bremer.

Also listed as complainants are the Rev. James Gunn, campus chaplain at the University of Dubuque in Dubuque, Iowa; the Rev. Alan Crandall, an adjunct professor at the University of Dubuque; the Rev. James Scaife, a member-at-large of the presbytery; and Jerry Indermark, a parishioner of Caledonia Presbyterian Church and a representative to the presbytery.

"We are hoping this complaint will bring some certainty to the situation within (the national church) regarding ordination standards," said Whitman Brisky, the complainants' attorney.

Brisky has asked the synod to stay Anderson's May 15 ordination while the appeals process plays out.

Anderson said he anticipated the complaint and expects the appeals process to last a year or more.

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