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Presbyterian leaders approve gay clergy policy

Leaders of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which has more than 2 million members, voted Thursday to allow non-celibate gays in committed relationships to serve as clergy, approving the first of two policy changes that could make their church one of the most gay-friendly major Christian denominations in the United States. Delegates voted during the church's general assembly in Minneapolis, with 53 percent approving the more liberal policy on gay clergy. A separate vote is expected on whether to change the church's definition of marriage from between "a man and a woman" to between "two people." The changes will then need to be approved by a majority of the church's 173 U.S. presbyteries. Last year, 94 of the presbyteries voted against a change in the policy. Under current church policy, Presbyterians are eligible to become clergy, deacons or elders only if they are married or celibate. The new policy would strike references to sexuality altogether in favor of candidates committed to "joyful submission to worship of Christ."

Solar power carries plane through night

An experimental airplane landed safely Thursday after flying through the night propelled entirely by 12,000 solar cells and sunlight-powered lithium batteries. The HB-SIA carbon-fiber aircraft, flown by Andre Borschberg and weighing about as much as a mid-size car, touched down at Payerne near Lake Neuchatel, Switzerland, at 9 a.m., the Solar Impulse group said. The 26-hour flight was part of the project's $95 million effort sponsored by Germany's Deutsche Bank. The seven-year project is led by the Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard and Borschberg, a 40-year flying veteran. The flight was "the most incredible one of my flying career, just sitting there and watching the battery charge level rise and rise thanks to the sun and then that suspense, not knowing whether we were going to manage to stay up in the air the whole night," Borschberg, 57, said.The next challenge: cross the Atlantic, then make an around-the-world flight in 2013.