In the first test of a new policy allowing local Presbyterian churches the right to welcome into the clergy candidates who object to church teachings, the Presbytery of San Francisco has granted a lesbian deacon her wish of becoming a minister.

The regional body yesterday voted 167 to 151 in favour of Lisa Larges, who had twice before been denied ordination.

Since 1978 the US Presbyterian denomination bans sexually active gay or lesbian people from the ministry.

Ms Larges’ told the meeting of local church delegates that she objects to the ban on conscience, and called it a “mar upon the church and a stumbling block to its mission.”

Opponents of the decision to allow her to become a member of the clergy said they will appeal in church court.

“The church is a beautiful, messy thing,” she said after the decision, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

“It’s about loving the church in spite of the church. It’s about being part of a movement to call the church back to its best self.”

Her triumph comes nearly 20 years after her ambition to become a member of the clergy was blocked by complaint to a Presbytery court about a lesbian becoming a minister.

The San Francisco Presbytery encompasses nearly 80 churches with 28,000 parishioners.