Attempts to censure the controversial Presbyterian Lay Committee failed at the Presbyterian General Assembly in July, but the annual gathering did vote to "rebuke all divisive people and groups."

Commissioners to the annual Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (PCUSA) General Assembly defused a showdown between the conservative lay group and church leaders by "means of a conciliatory call to repentance and forgiveness."

The Presbyterian Lay Committee (PLC) publishes the 520,000-circulation Presbyterian Layman and has been a persistent critic of the denomination's headquarters staff.

At last year's meeting, feminist theology took center stage. The denomination acknowledged that the 1993 Re-Imagining conference featuring worship of Sophia exceeded Reformed theology boundaries. PCUSA funds had supported the event. The Layman said Re-Imagining is symbolic of PCUSA straying from biblical roots.

Last fall, moderator Robert Bohl appointed a nine-member committee to engage in dialogue with eight members of the PLC to resolve the ongoing conflict. But negotiations broke down in March, and the committee said the lay group had "chosen repeatedly to subvert the process of reconciliation."

The moderator's appointees said that the Layman's "ad hominem attacks on elected and appointed offices and officials" frequently undermines the denomination's work. The panel said repeated personal attacks "exceed the bounds of Christian conduct."

The moderator's appointees labeled the Layman's Re-Imagining reporting "irresponsible" and suggested the general assembly enact guidelines to control the bimonthly newspaper.

In March, the PLC submitted an "Honoring the Boundaries of Reformed Faith and Practice" paper that would have required, among other things, PCUSA national ...

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