Clark, who serves as interim associate dean of student life and chaplain at SFTS, has been ordained as a teaching elder under the new PC(USA) amendment that opens the way for the ordination of gay and lesbian teaching elders, ruling elders and deacons.
“God won today, Scott,” said Rev. Dr. Janie Spahr, who offered the charge to Clark. “This is about equality and justice.”
Indeed, the gathering at First Presbyterian Church, San Anselmo, was a celebration with straight, gay and lesbian clergy and laity from throughout Northern California in attendance. Clark becomes just the second openly gay man to be ordained since the passage of Amendment 10-A last summer. Teaching elder is the official title for ministers of word and sacrament in the PC(USA).
"I am grateful for the opportunity to serve as a teaching elder,” Clark said. “Throughout the ordination process, I've been sustained by a series of communities -- in Birmingham, Alabama, and in California -- who live out the expansive welcome of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Those communities have affirmed and advocated for the inclusion of all people -- including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender folks -- within the full life of the church.
“As one of those communities affirms, ‘We welcome all those whom God welcomes.’ I look forward to continuing to serve with them and with the seminary community at San Francisco Theological Seminary, as we live into the truth that the gospel of Jesus Christ is good news for all people.”
Rev. Dr. Joanne Whitt, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, San Anselmo, preached the ordination sermon. Like Spahr, Whitt earned her Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees at SFTS. Whitt also serves on the SFTS Board of Trustees.
“We all know what a big deal today is,” Whitt said. “God has given Scott exceptional gifts and he has responded with exceptional grace.”
Joining in the massive laying on of hands as Clark was ordained was Rev. Dr. James L. McDonald, the new president at SFTS.
“This is the day that the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it,” said McDonald. “Scott’s ordination to ministry in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is a confirmation of his call and his wonderful gifts for ministry.”
Clark, who earned his M.Div. at SFTS in 2009, was an attorney in Birmingham, Ala., before coming to seminary. He has joined Presbyterian attorneys Sara Taylor and Rev. Beverly Brewster in supporting marriage equality within the PC(USA) judicial system, and has provided counsel for both Spahr and Rev. Jean Southard, who have been brought up on disciplinary charges for marrying lesbian and gay couples.
Clark will be arguing in support of Spahr's ministry before the General Assembly’s Permanent Judicial Commission in Louisville, Ky., in February 2012. Of this judicial work, Clark said: “It is my earnest hope that the Church will come to affirm the full dignity of all people and all families, consistent with the inclusive mandate of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
The ordination of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons has generated both positive and negative responses from around the globe. On Sept. 23, PC(USA) Stated Clerk Rev. Gradye Parsons received a letter of support for the PC(USA)’s constitutional change from Anglican Archbishop Emeritus and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu.
Click here to read Tutu’s letter: