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Presbyterian churches in Utah have mixed reactions to vote allowing same-sex marriages

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Posted at 6:08 PM, Jun 29, 2014
and last updated 2014-06-29 23:55:55-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Same-sex couples in Utah will now be welcome to wed in some Presbyterian churches should such unions become legal in the state. A recent vote by national church officials is granting the clergy the right to marry same-sex couples.

The vote was made by the Presbyterian Assembly of Commissioners and makes the Presbyterian Church one of the biggest Christian groups in the U.S. to allow same-sex marriages.

Rev. Monica Hall of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Ogden spoke about the decision.

'It doesn’t mean every minister has to,” she said. “It just means if we are in a place where it’s legal then we are free to do that for any church member who so desires to be married in church, which is great. That’s gospel news right there.”

Hall said after her trip to Detroit for the vote, she is excited about the changes happening in her state and church.

“A voice for change, a voice for equality, a voice saying that everyone counts,” she said. “And that’s how this church is for sure at Trinity, everyone counts here. It doesn't matter who you are.”

Recently the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. had its biannual meeting in Detroit.

The assembly, which Hall attended, voted on the issue. They said opening the church to all couples was the direction they felt God was calling them. Hall said it's just an option and many conservative congregations and pastors may refrain.

“We have this great diversity in our church,” Hall said. “We have some who are theologically conservative, socially conservative and there are plenty that are more progressive. We are proud we can all live together and proclaim faith and still have these differences.”

But some Utah churches are leaving the fold, saying the denomination is ignoring biblical truth. Westminster Presbyterian Church in Fruit Heights was the first in Utah to leave. They call themselves the Mountain Road Church now, and they declined to comment for this story. A volunteer leader at Trinity Presbyterian said he hopes conservatives stick around.

“If pastors don`t want to perform same-sex marriages, that`s cool, and if they do that’s cool too, and I think giving that amount of room really makes our faith so much bigger,” said Kirk Pibasco, a lay pastor at Trinity.

FOX 13 News reached out to leaders of other local Presbyterian churches considered to be somewhat conservative, but none of those contacted wanted to speak on camera.