Women were thrust a significant step closer toward ordination as deacons, elders, and ministers in the Presbyterian Church in the United States last month. The church’s five-day General Assembly in Huntington, West Virginia, moved to amend the Book of Church Order so that “both men and women shall be eligible to hold Church offices.” The issue generated spirited debate.

McQueen Quattlebaum, elder commissioner from South Carolina, reminded the 456 commissioners of the biblical statement that an elder “must be the husband of one wife” and challenged them to show how women could meet this biblical requirement for office.

The Rev. Archie Davis of Miami ended a fervent speech against the proposal by solemnly admonishing the assembly that there is “a big distinction between the laying on of hands on a man and on a woman.” The remark brought down the house.

In spite of such efforts the motion to send the amendment down to the church’s eighty presbyteries for “advice and consent” passed by a 249–173 vote. Forty-one of the eighty presbyteries must ratify the proposed amendment before it can become effective.

Dr. William H. McCorkle, minister of the First Presbyterian Church of Bristol, Tennessee, was chosen moderator. His nomination was made by Dr. Sherrard Rice of Columbia, South Carolina, and seconded by Dr. L. Nelson Bell of Montreat, North Carolina. McCorkle, a former Marine Corps chaplain, was awarded the Silver Star, the Purple Heart, and an Asiatic-Pacific campaign ribbon with four combat stars and is the most decorated chaplain in the history of the United States Navy. Former secretary of the denomination’s evangelism program, McCorkle admits he had strong resistance to entering the Christian ministry during his early years in ...

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