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Teaching Elders Impacted in Marriage Equality & Civil Union States

Marriage Equality Map USA

More Light Presbyterians has compiled an approximate count of Teaching Elders in the Presbyterian Church (USA) who minister in states that provide marriage equality or civil unions for same gender couples. Current PC(USA) policy places many of these clergy in an untenable situation – choosing to provide this pastoral care for the people they’ve been called to serve, or withholding it in order to comply with the current language in the Directory for Worship in the Book of OrderStand for Love provides Teaching Elders with the opportunity to proclaim the witness that Christian marriage is not limited to heterosexual couples, in obedience to their ordination vow to “show the love and justice of Jesus Christ.” As marriage equality initiatives in Illinois, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island and other states achieve success, and as the Supreme court reviews California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, the number of PC(USA) clergy who minister under this dichotomy will only increase.

This count is partially estimated because some presbyteries cross state lines where marriage equality is only available in one of the states. This count is a work in progress. If you have information which will improve its accuracy, please contact

MLP used the Office of the General Assembly (OGA)’s 2010 Presbytery Membership and 2012 GA Commissioners (pdf) to determine counts of Teaching Elders in any particular presbytery.

Teaching Elders impacted in states providing equal marriage and civil unions:

  • Marriage Equality States: 6,079 Teaching Elders (29% of all TEs)
  • Civil Union States: 389 Teaching Elders (2% of all TEs)
  • Marriage Equality & Civil Union States: 6,468 Teaching Elders (31% of all TEs)

To view a breakdown of where state laws stand, visit Freedom to Marry.

Marriage Equality States

Synod of the Northeast


Connecticut (CT)

  • Southern New England (165 Teaching Elders)

Maine (ME)

  • Northern New England (108 Teaching Elders)

Massachusetts (MA)

  • Boston (82 Teaching Elders)
  • Southern New England (See CT)

New Hampshire (NH)

  • Northern New England (See ME)

New Jersey (NJ)

  • Elizabeth (119)
  • Newton (100)
  • Newark (64)
  • New Brunswick (161)
  • Palisades (90)
  • Mommouth (87)
  • West Jersey (134)

New York (NY)

  • Albany (120 Teaching Elders)
  • Cayuga-Syracuse (60 Teaching Elders)
  • Genesee Valley (124 Teaching Elders)
  • Geneva Presbytery (72 Teaching Elders)
  • Hudson River (162 Teaching Elders)
  • Long Island (101 Teaching Elders)
  • New York City (241 Teaching Elders)
  • Northern New York (44 Teaching Elders)
  • Susquehanna Valley (64 Teaching Elders)
  • Utica (48 Teaching Elders)
  • Western New York (97 Teaching Elders)

Rhode Island (RI)

  • Southern New England (See CT)

Vermont (VT)

  • Northern New England (See ME)

Synod of Mid-Atlantic


Delaware (DE)

  • New Castle (95 Teaching Elders in Delaware)

Maryland (MD)

  • Baltimore (166 Teaching Elders)
  • National Capital (352 Teaching Elders)
  • New Castle (25 Teaching Elders in Maryland)

Washington, D.C.

  • National Capital (See MD)

Synod of Lincoln Trails


Illinois (IL)

  • Blackhawk (128 Teaching Elders)
  • Chicago (393 Teaching Elders)
  • Great Rivers (141 Teaching Elders)
  • Southeastern Illinois (110 Teaching Elders)

Synod of Lakes and Prairies


Iowa (IA)

  • Des Moines (79 Teaching Elders)
  • East Iowa (114 Teaching Elders)
  • John Knox (57 Teaching Elders in Iowa)
  • Missouri River Valley (82 Teaching Elders)
  • North Central Iowa (67 Teaching Elders)
  • Prospect Hill (57 Teaching Elders)

Minnesota (MN)

  • Northern Plains (39 Teaching Elders)
  • Northern Waters (57 Teaching Elders)
  • Minnesota Valleys (74 Teaching Elders)
  • Twin Cities Area (267 Teaching Elders)
  • John Knox (1 Teaching Elder)

Synod of Alaska/Northwest


Washington (WA)

  • Central Washington (70 Teaching Elders)
  • Inland Northwest (106 Teaching Elders)
  • North Puget Sound (102 Teaching Elders)
  • Olympia (138 Teaching Elders)
  • Seattle (230 Teaching Elders)

Synod of the Pacific


California (CA):

  • Sacramento (143 Teaching Elders)
  • The Redwoods (163 Teaching Elders)
  • San Francisco (291 Teaching Elders)
  • Stockton (48 Teaching Elders)
  • San Jose (131 Teaching Elders)
  • San Joaquin (90 Teaching Elders)
  • Nevada (10 Teaching Elders)

Synod of Southern California and Hawaii


Hawaii (HI)

  •  The Pacific (10 Teaching Elders in Hawaii)

Civil Union States

Synod of the Rocky Mountains


  • Denver (186 Teaching Elders)
  • Plains & Peaks (90 Teaching Elders)
  • Pueblo (77 Teaching Elders)
  • Western Colorado (36 Teaching Elders)
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