Members of the Presbyterian Church (USA) (PCUSA) who expected a special report on human sexuality to be controversial were not disappointed when it was released last February. Jerry Van Marter of the denomination’s news service says he has not seen such furor among Presbyterians since a church agency contributed to the Angela Davis Defense Fund in the 1960s.
In the first month following the report’s release, various Presbyterian bodies drafted no fewer than 16 overtures (petitions), according to Van Marter, all requesting in one form or another that commissioners (delegates) to this year’s general assembly dispense with the report, the sooner the better. (Unless an assembly committee recommends that the report be ignored, it will most likely come up for a vote when the church’s general assembly meets June 12–14 in Baltimore.)
Most notably, the report advocates full acceptance, including ordination, of practicing homosexuals. But critics say this is but a symptom of the report’s most fundamental flaw. David Searfoss, leader of six dissenting committee members who drafted a minority report, says the majority document represents a “disastrous departure from the Reformed position on the authority of Scripture.” He adds, “If we cease to listen to the Word of God, then as far as I’m concerned, we cease to be a church.”
Other Presbyterian leaders echo Searfoss’s views. Says Betty Moore, executive director of Presbyterians for Renewal (PFR), “The report equates the authority of Scripture with the authority of human experience.”
Former PCUSA moderator Ken Hall has led a group of six former church moderators in producing an open letter calling for the ...1
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