More than two decades after Scott Anderson told his California congregation that he was gay and therefore must resign as its pastor, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) is preparing to welcome him back with mostly open arms.
Anderson will be ordained Saturday in his new home of Madison, Wis., as the denomination’s first openly gay minister, marking the latest mainline Protestant church to move toward accepting homosexual relationships.
During a recent interview, Anderson, 56, recalled being in the closet from 1983 to 1990 while serving as a minister in Sacramento. He told the congregation the truth and resigned as pastor after a couple learned he was gay and tried to use the information against him.
“That was really the best and worst moment of my life,” Anderson said. “It was the best because I was able to claim for the first time who I was as a gay man. That was incredibly empowering. But there was also the sadness, the grief of leaving the ministry and what I loved.”
Saturday’s ordination at Covenant Presbyterian Church was made possible by decades of debate over whether openly gay people should be allowed to serve in the church. The church constitution used to include language requiring that clergy live “in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness.”