Tuesday, June 3, 2003

Presbytery asked to discipline minister

By Erica Solvig
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The Mount Auburn Presbyterian minister found guilty in an ecclesiastical trial of marrying gays and lesbians faces new accusations from a California lawyer who made the original complaints.

The Rev. Stephen Van Kuiken is being accused of blasphemy, heresy and not following the church order to stop performing the marriages. Lawyer Paul Rolf Jensen mailed the accusations to the Presbytery of Cincinnati Friday.

It will now be up to the Presbytery to form an investigating committee.

Van Kuiken went on trial with the local church court in April on charges of marrying and ordaining gays and lesbians. He was found guilty on the marriage charge and received the least severe punishment available - a public rebuke banning him from doing it again.

The minister said he would continue the practice, which is supported by his 280-member congregation. He wed two women May 17.

"It's not merely the fact that he performed the service. More fundamentally, he did so intentionally to poke his finger in the eye of the Book of Order," said Jensen. "He should be banned from the pulpit."

Van Kuiken said Sunday he was not surprised by the accusation.

The other charges stem from a sermon, posted online, in which Van Kuiken quotes religious scholar Robert Funk as saying Jesus was a deviant and promiscuous.

Van Kuiken said he was referring to Jesus' willingness to deal with many types of people.

E-mail esolvig@enquirer.com

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