Presbyterian conservatives, led by two members of a church in Newport Beach, California, are circulating a petition for a special assembly in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The gathering would discipline churches and pastors who have defied a church law banning the ordination of noncelibate gays and lesbians.

But the two top denominational leaders publicly oppose the move. In separate November letters, Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick and Moderator Fahed Abu-Akel said a special assembly would drain money from the cash-strapped denomination. They said it would also upset the church's judicial processes.

Under church law, 25 ministers and 25 elders from at least 15 different regional presbyteries can call a special assembly. So far, at least 45 people have signed the petition. One of those circulating the petition, Alex Metherell, said the church is facing a constitutional crisis.

"The time, energy, and money that we would spend on a special meeting need to be spent in mission in the name of Christ," Abu-Akel told General Assembly commissioners in the letter.

Last year a majority of the denomination's 173 presbyteries rejected Amendment A. That measure would have removed the "fidelity and chastity" rule for church leaders. The denomination of 2.6 million members formally bans the ordination of noncelibate homosexuals.

Related Elsewhere

Other recent articles include:

Ohio church session seeks action to discipline defiant church officersThe Layman Online (Dec. 6, 2002)
Synod reviewing Baltimore judicial dismissal—Presbyterian News Service (Nov. 26, 2002)

Previous Christianity Today coverage includes:

Talk of Presbyterian Split Grows | Homosexual ordination, lordship of Christ are ongoing issues for conservatives. (Nov. 21, 2002)
Presbyterians ...
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