- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 22, 2003

BLUE ASH, Ohio (AP) Presbyterian Church (USA) officials convicted a minister yesterday of violating church law for "marrying" same-sex couples.
In the church's first trial on the practice, the court rebuked the Rev. Stephen Van Kuiken but refrained from suspending him or removing him from ministry.
The court acquitted Mr. Van Kuiken on another charge of ordaining homosexuals who won't adhere to a Presbyterian requirement of chastity.
Mr. Van Kuiken, 44, pastor of Mount Auburn Presbyterian Church in nearby Cincinnati, has acknowledged performing the ceremonies and ordaining homosexuals. He says the church is facing a crisis of theological intolerance.
He has said he would appeal a guilty verdict. He also has said he will continue to ordain homosexuals and to "marry" same-sex couples.
"I just have to be true to myself, and that's the best I can do," Mr. Van Kuiken told reporters. "Our congregation has always felt that these ceremonies are 'marriages' in every way … gay people are equal."
Mr. Van Kuiken was the first minister to be tried on accusations of "marrying" homosexuals as a result of complaints filed by Presbyterian activists in about 20 locations around the country. Some complaints were investigated and dismissed for lack of evidence, and others are pending.
The activists want the 2.5 million-member denomination, based in Louisville, Ky., to require ministers and congregations to obey the Presbyterian constitution.
The Presbyterian Church follows the biblical interpretation generally held by major Christian denominations that marriage can be a covenant only between a man and a woman. The highest Presbyterian court ruled in 2000 that ministers may bless same-sex couples, but may not "marry" them.

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