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Renewal Movements Stir Within Mainline Churches

Renewal groups within the Presbyterian Church USA are joining forces to create a new inter-church fellowship focused on reviving what they call an ''aging, dying, visionless denomination.''

Renewal Movements Stir Within Mainline Churches

Renewal groups within the Presbyterian Church USA are joining forces to create a new inter-church fellowship focused on reviving what they call an ''aging, dying, visionless denomination.''

“The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is in a deep crisis,” an invitation email to congregations stated. “We have turned our eyes inward, and we are an aging, dying, visionless denomination. We have lost the central focus of the New Testament church: its missional calling. While our own culture has become a mission field, we continue to devote all our efforts to maintaining the institution that we once were.”

The group, created in mid-May, is called the Presbyterian Global Fellowship and has been in the making for several months. While the fellowship’s structure is still being formulated, its goal is set on connecting Presbyterian congregations in pursuing mission work through targeting giving.

The fellowship is also intended to bring a sharper identity to renewal congregations that wish to identify with the historic PC(USA), but not with the denomination’s confusion over theological issues like human sexuality.

“As a fellowship we recognize the need in the midst of our current North American culture to be particularly vigilant to maintain our witness to heterosexual marriage as God’s design for human sexual expression,” the email stated.

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A similar movement has already taken hold in other mainline denominations like the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Episcopal Church USA. In both cases, churches have come together as a “church-within-church,” where member congregations would criticize some denomination-wide theologies and stances while keeping denominational identities intact.

Members of the Presbyterian Global Fellowship will also “remain within the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.”

“This is not an effort to start a new denomination or to write a new constitution. We are convinced the church cannot restructure its way to health,” the email stated, in reference to the church’s wide-scale restructuring efforts that laid off dozens of staffers.

Organizers of the group are expected to hold informal meetings at the upcoming PC(USA) biennial meeting in Birmingham, Ala., next week. The first official meeting will be held at the Peachtree Church on Aug. 17-19, 2006.

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