Renewal Groups Strategize after the PC(USA) Drops Celibacy Clause for Gay Clergy

Churches discuss future paths since the votes came in for the Presbyterian Church(USA) to open the door to ordaining non-celibate homosexuals. July issue.

For Ronald W. Scates, senior pastor of the 4,800-member Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Dallas, the future of his denomination looks chaotic.

A majority of the 173 presbyteries, or regional bodies, within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have voted to remove from the 2-million-member denomination’s constitution an ordination requirement of “fidelity in the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness.”

The change was decided May 10 when the Twin Cities presbytery, which covers Minneapolis and St. Paul, became the 87th region to approve it.

The move is widely seen as giving presbyteries the option of allowing openly gay people in same-sex relationships to be ordained as ministers, elders and deacons.

“It is shattering what little unity was left in the PC(USA),” said Scates, pastor of one of the denomination’s largest churches. “You will probably see a lot of silent hemorrhaging of people out of our churches.”

Those upset with the vote see it as part of a larger liberal shift by the PC(USA).

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