Mainline Presbyterians have rejected an effort to loosen their official standards on who may be ordained and on clergy sexuality, effectively banning ordination of practicing homosexuals.

In late March, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (PCUSA) announced that the denomination's regional bodies had defeated by a 2-to-1 margin the "fidelity and integrity" amendment. As a result, the PCUSA will retain its "fidelity and chastity" amendment, approved at last year's general assembly (CT, Aug. 11, 1997, p. 56).

More Light Churches Network, a group of 95 congregations that openly ordain homosexuals, is not expected to abide by the reaffirmed amendment, which states that clergy are expected to demonstrate "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness." The defeated replacement amendment said, "Among these standards [for church office] is the requirement to demonstrate fidelity and integrity in marriage or singleness, and in all relationships of life."

According to Presbyterian News Service, the More Light network anticipates disciplinary actions against openly homosexual PCUSA clergy. But some conservative activists say they do not advocate "purging" homosexual clergy. Joe Rightmyer of Presbyterians for Renewal says, "We need to recover what is offered in Scripture, not just what is opposed."

Former moderator John Buchanan worries about the consequences of polarization within the denomination, saying, "The church needs to show a divided world how to stay in dialogue and service with each other, even when we disagree."

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