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Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to Begin Homosexual OrdinationsOctober 7, 2011Contact: Jeff Walton 202-682-4131, 202-413-5639 cell
“The decision to remove sexual conduct from PCUSA ordination vows is symptomatic of a deeper, ongoing struggle within the church over the authority of holy scripture.”-Gary Green, Chair of IRD’s Presbyterian Action Committee
Washington, DC—The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) is set to ordain its first openly homosexual pastor this weekend.
Scott Anderson, an official with the Wisconsin Council of Churches, will be ordained October 8 in Madison, Wisconsin. The ordination follows a vote earlier this year in which a majority of presbyteries in the PCUSA approved deleting the denomination’s standard for sexual conduct of its ordained officers. The previous requirement for “fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness” was replaced in July with a vague statement that gives no specific guidance for sexual behavior. It does not add a biblical basis for why non-marital sexual relationships are now acceptable for an ordained church officer.
The PCUSA Book of Confessions still affirms traditional Christian teaching reserving sexual relations for the marriage of man and woman. However, the ambiguity introduced by the amendment allows PCUSA bodies so wishing to ordain ministers, elders, and deacons involved in same-sex or opposite-sex relationships outside of marriage.
In August, some 2,000 people attended a conservative Fellowship of Presbyterians gathering in Minneapolis, motivated by a sense of urgent need for “differentiation” from the PCUSA as an expression of conscience. The group is planning to establish a “new Reformed body” in January.
IRD’s Presbyterian Action Committee Chairman Gary Green commented:
“The decision to remove sexual conduct from PCUSA ordination vows is symptomatic of a deeper, ongoing struggle within the church over the authority of holy scripture. This action stands in contradiction to the PCUSA confessions of faith, which continue to teach that faithful Christians have the choice either to be faithful in marriage or chaste in singleness.
“This action has already marginalized the PCUSA from the global church, as relationships with some international mission partners are being strained or broken. The National Presbyterian Church of Mexico, with almost 2 million members, has broken relations and strong denunciations of PCUSA actions have come from Presbyterian churches in Ghana and Brazil.
"It is also expected that the relaxed standard for sexual conduct will also estrange some PCUSA ethnically Korean and Hispanic churches, which has been a growing segment in the PCUSA membership during the current period in which the PCUSA has seen significant declines in membership.
“The PCUSA appears to be following the course already traced by the UCC, Episcopal Church, and ELCA. Traveling down that road is likely to lead to more division, greater membership declines, and marginalization from the mainstream of U.S. and global Christianity.”
The Institute on Religion & Democracy
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