- - Wednesday, September 23, 2015

In an ongoing sign that the liberalized Christianity of North American mainline Protestantism will not find acceptance in much of South America, Religion News Service reports that the Presbyterian churches in Brazil and Peru “have ended their partnerships with the Presbyterian Church (USA) after the U.S. denomination changed its constitution in March to allow clergy to celebrate same-sex marriages.”

The Rev. Gradye Parsons, the stated clerk of the General Assembly and the highest elected official in the denomination, said the South American churches hold differing views on inclusion of gays and lesbians in the life of the church.

“It’s a continuum of what people think God is calling them to do with LGBT issues,” he said. “Some think they should be loved and changed, and some think they should be loved and accepted.”

The PCUSA has already lost fifty U.S. congregations since the change in policy. And, if given the option of leaving the denomination, countless others would follow. Policy and legal considerations vary from one state to the next, but the typical pattern for a congregation desiring to leave the PCUSA for a more conservative branch of Presbyterianism is that they must buy their way out. That is, they must pay the denomination a certain amount of money in order to keep their building and property.

As a colleague of mine who stays abreast of PCUSA issues reminded me in a piece of analysis she wrote (see graphic above):

“In the three years 2012-2014, the PCUSA’s membership declined by more than 15%.There has not been an increase in membership in the PCUSA since the reunion denomination was formed in 1983. The last recorded membership increase for the PCUSA’s two combined predecessor denominations – the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. (PCUS) and the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (UPCUSA) – was in 1965.”



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