The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will vote on two highly contentious issues at its General Assembly beginning Saturday with some presbyteries proposing reversal of the right to ordain openly gay and lesbian clergy and some seeking a change to the definition marriage.
Some presbyteries are calling for restoration of the 1996 standard that required "fidelity in the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness" for all clergy, according to PC(USA), which will have it biennial assembly from June 30-July 7 in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Some other presbyteries want to change the definition of marriage from being between "a man and a woman" to "two people." Five others are seeking an authoritative interpretation of the constitution that would allow pastors to officiate at wedding ceremonies in states where same-gender marriage is legal. more >>
The General Assembly of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has suggested adding an exemption to its Board of Pensions' proposed expansion of benefits for qualified same-sex couples.
Andrew Browne, vice president and corporate secretary of the Board of Pensions, wrote in a letter to employing organizations that the creation of a "mechanism" to exempt those who may take issue with expanding pension benefits to same-sex couples is being considered.
"The Board of Pensions continues to take seriously the General Assembly's urging to design a mechanism to relieve the conscience of those for whom this coverage creates a moral dilemma," wrote Browne. more >>
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) membership dipped below the 2 million mark in 2011, according to statistics released by the PC(USA) Office of the General Assembly on Thursday.
According to the numbers, during 2011 the denomination experienced a decline of 63,804 members and the loss of 96 congregations due to a mixture of church dissolutions and dismissals.
Dr. Sheldon W. Sorge, pastor to Presbytery for the PC(USA) Presbytery of Pittsburgh, told The Christian Post that he believed the decline was part of a larger trend for Christian denominations. more >>
Presbyterian Church (USA) has received overtures from various regional bodies within the denomination in favor of either changing the group's definition of marriage or loosening the enforcement of said definition.
Various presbyteries within PC(USA) have sent the General Assembly messages expressing support and opposition to these ideas for the 220th PC (USA) General Assembly.
According to Presbyterian News Service, the presbyteries of East Iowa, Hudson River, New York City and Redwoods submitted Amendment Overtures, which demand that PC (USA) change its definition of marriage from "a woman and a man" to "two people." more >>
A Florida congregation has split over the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s decision to allow presbyteries to elect non-celibate homosexuals to church positions.
Members of the Community Church of Howey-In-The-Hills and its leader the Rev. Ken Folmsbee have broken away from the PC(USA) and started a new church which meets at a lakeside pavilion.
The new congregation, dubbed Lakes and Hills Covenant Church, filed for "gracious dismissal" with the Central Florida Presbytery in order to keep their property. However, the presbytery denied their request, arguing that the regional body had not noted a large enough consensus within the congregation. more >>
A Texas congregation has split over a vote taken to leave the Presbyterian Church (USA) over theological differences, with a sizable minority of voting members opting to stay with the mainline denomination.
Of 370 members of First Presbyterian Church of Longview, 282 voted in favor of leaving the PC(USA) while 84 voted against leaving and six voted to be with whatever side kept the church property.
Until the issue over the church property is addressed, the two congregations will worship at different facilities. The breakaway majority decided to start holding worship services at a building formerly used by a Lutheran congregation. The remaining minority will continue to hold services at the FPC Longview building. more >>