Noncelibate homosexuals and sexually promiscuous individuals still cannot hold church office in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). On February 19, conservatives gained the last vote needed from the denomination's 173 regional presbyteries to defeat Amendment A.
The amendment to the church's constitution, easily passed by delegates to last summer's General Assembly meeting, would have removed language that requires clergy to live "in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness" (CT, Dec. 3, 2001, p. 21).
Amendment A would also have deleted a 1978 provision that prohibits the ordination of "self-affirming practicing homosexuals."
It would also have transferred ordination standards from the national church to local congregations and presbyteries.
This is the second time that the church has voted to retain the ban. Conservatives who rallied to retain the ban said the victory was bittersweet. They said it reflects the continuing division in the church over homosexuality.
Jerry Andrews, a former moderator of the conservative Presbyterian Coalition, said it is time for the church to enter a pastoral season of reflection.
For now, liberals say they do not plan any moves to further legislate the issue when the church meets again in June in Columbus, Ohio.
In an August 11, 1997, Christianity Today article, James Edwards compared today's struggles within the PCUSA to that in the German church in the 1930s —which launched the original "Confessing Church" at Barmen.
Other Christianity Today articles on tensions within the Presbyterian Church (USA) include:
Talk of Presbyterian Split ...1