New charges have been filed in the case of the Rev. Janet Edwards, the descendent of Jonathan Edwards who conducted a lesbian “wedding” back in 2005. According to the Presbyterian Online:
A new complaint has been filed against Janet Edwards, the Presbyterian minister in Pittsburgh who last year was taken to church court for marrying a lesbian couple, only to have the charges dropped because the court found they were filed four days late.
James C. Yearsley, a Presbyterian minister who is currently serving in Florida, filed a complaint against Edwards shortly after she performed the marriage in June 2005, only to see the charges against her dismissed on a technicality in November. Pittsburgh Presbytery’s Permanent Judicial Commission ruled that a special investigating committee filed charges against Edwards after its deadline for doing so.
But now a new case may be brought against Edwards, who has been an activist for the full participation of gay and lesbian people in the church.
Yearsley announced last month that he has submitted a new grievance against Edwards that alleges she acted in “willful and deliberate defiance” of her ordination vows and of the constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).Seven other PC(USA) ministers and six elders from Texas, North Carolina, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Washington State have signed on to the new complaint, joining Yearsley as “co-accusers.”
Yearsley, who filed the original 2005 complaint alone, said in a press release that he decided to re-file the accusation with Pittsburgh Presbytery in conjunction with others this time “because the church and Ms. Edwards never had their day in court.”
The PC(USA)’s Book of Order defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and church courts have ruled that Presbyterian ministers may not utilize the denomination’s marriage liturgy in same-sex ceremonies.
In their complaint, a copy of which was provided to the Presbyterian News Service, the church leaders accused Edwards of acting in “willful and deliberate violation of her ordination vows” as stated in the Book of Order by performing the same-sex wedding ceremony.
Edwards, 56, said she does not believe she violated her ordination vows by marrying the lesbian partners, who live near Wheeling, W.V.
We’ll see what a new court does–actually conduct the trial in a manner that upholds the Book of Order, or whether it is run with a predetermined result in mind. One interesting aspect of this case is this: Edwards, a clergyperson from Pennsylvania, even while proclaiming her innocence, freely admits that she “married” two lesbians from West Virginia in a ceremony in California. Same sex marriage is not legal in any of those three states. So just what was it that she thinks she was doing?