Full Court Presby reported on Friday afternoon that
Based on my discussions with leadership in NWI and voting delegates, I believe that the recommendations discussed earlier will be approved. That approval sets a course and time-table for action. There will be convocation in the winter of 2007 that will be VERY INTERESTING. NWI could be in a position at that time to receive congregations that desire to leave the PCUSA. Would this be the time of a mass pullout from the denomination? No one knows.On the other hand, the biggest renewal organizations have made clear that they are for renewing, not splitting, the church. The Global Fellowship of Presbyterians, a new mission initiative of tall-steeple churches, is observing the Tulsa meeting with interest and is clearly distressed with the way things are in the denomination – but they won't leave, either.
New Wineskins is proud of having accredited representatives of 121 churches with a combined membership of about 65,000. Many other congregations which are not represented in Tulsa are also disaffected, including most of the 1300 that have signed on with the Confessing Church Movement.
However, I think that, when push comes to shove, very few of these congregations will vote to leave the denomination, much less take part in creating a counter-denomination.
So how big might the schism be? At the Assembly, when I was asked this question, I off-handedly said "40 congregations, tops." I still think that is a good estimate. It is a very difficult business to get a whole congregation to leave a denomination, even if the denomination did not own the church buildings. Unless the denominational brass do something boneheaded – such as acquitting Jane Spahr after she begged so hard for conviction – I think the NWI schism will be mostly angry talk.
Bottom line: a year from now, the PUP schism will amount to 40 congregations and 40,000 members. In other words, about an average year's membership loss anyway.