An Evangelical Presbyterian Body Asks A Second Group To Join It

For the second time in its short history, the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) has invited another denomination to join it. Founded in 1973 by Southerners leaving the then Presbyterian Church, U.S., the PCA is ready to welcome the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) into its fold. Just two years ago the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (RPCES), joined the PCA.

When PCA presbyteries voted in 1981 and 1982 to invite the RPCES, they also considered an invitation to the OPC. The latter invitation failed to be ratified by the required three-fourths of the PCA presbyteries. But by late March of this year, a second invitation had been approved by the necessary 29 PCA presbyteries. The proposal will be sent to the general assembly of the OPC for consideration. Looking forward to its fiftieth anniversary in 1986, the OPC is not expected to begin its year-long formal consideration of the invitation until 1985.

In inviting the two smaller but older Presbyterian groups, the PCA has used an unprecedented “joining-and-receiving” method. The procedure skips the difficult step of negotiating a plan of union. The young denomination has simply asked the others to join it; in the process they officially become part of the PCA, accepting its name, doctrine, government, and programs.

If the OPC decides to join, the resulting body would have more than 150,000 communicant members in about 1,000 congregations. The OPC would add significant strength on the West Coast, in the upper Midwest, and along the Atlantic seaboard from Northern Virginia to Maine. The two denominations already share ownership of Great Commission Publications, which publishes hymnals and educational ...

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