Sunday, July 11, 2010

Presbyterian Losses and Gay Ordination

The General Assembly confirmed that after 43 straight years of declining membership, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is now less than half the size it was at its peak in 1967. The pace of losses has actually picked up in the last few years, as entire conservative congregations have left, in addition to the normal negative ratio of new members to deaths.

This General Assembly also passed another attempt to change church rules to say that, contrary to what the Bible appears to say, homosexual practice is not a sin, or at least not enough of a sin to prevent ordination. The last three times such a proposal was passed by the General Assembly and sent to the church as a whole for a vote, it failed.

I do not know whether the liberalizing measure will pass this time. I do know that each time the General Assembly attempts to liberalize the constitution this way, more conservatives give up on the PC(USA) and leave.

At some point, so many conservatives will have left that the liberal constitutional amendment will pass.

I don't think this victory will stabilize the denomination, though. Liberals are pretty bad and having and holding kids in the church, and even worse at evangelizing. Whichever way this particular fight turns out, the Presbyterian Church (USA) is likely to keep dwindling.


Anonymous said...

My condolences. My brother-in-law has experiencd similar problems in the Episcopalian church.

Adam Copeland said...

I agree, eventually this will pass a majority of the Presbyteries, but I don't think the main reason will be that enough conservative pastors have left the denomination. Statistically speaking, I think those numbers are relatively few. Instead, I see other factors at work including:

1) Gay ordination used to be an "issue" that most presbyters saw as affecting others. More and more folks know LGBTQ folks. Views are changing, even for some conservative pastors.

2) More likely, the larger lost of conservative pastors is not leaving the PC(USA) for another denomination, but simply death (since retired pastors have vote at the presbytery level).

3) People are tired of fighting. They realize this question will not go away. The newly proposed change is general and strong enough I expect it will be a close vote. More and more folks just want to move on.

Adam Copeland said...

leaving another comment w/ "follow-up" email box checked. :)