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West Hollywood UCC, a previously Presbyterian, diverse ONA congregation, was granted standing May 12 when the Central Association of the UCC's Southern California Nevada Conference received the church. The 57-member congregation is believed to be the first church to leave the Presbyterian fold to join a more liberal church under a so-called "gracious-dismissal" policy devised by church elders to avoid contentious lawsuits over congregations seeking to leave the denomination.
Questions about homosexual ordination and same-sex unions have deeply divided the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and its 2 million members, along with other mainstream Protestant denominations in the United States.
“It's like being released from an abusive relationship,” said the Rev. Daniel Smith, who has led the West Hollywood congregation since the 1980s. "We're ready to be set free."
The Rev. Tom Eggebeen, who served as chairman of a Presbytery group that negotiated the terms of West Hollywood's dismissal, said the parent church remained a hostile environment for gays and lesbians... The Presbyterian Church (USA) allows its ministers to bless gay unions, but prohibits them from performing same-sex marriages.