August 2004 – In the battle over orthodoxy, liberal leaders in some of the mainline Protestant denominations continue to push for the normalization of homosexuality. For the time being, they have failed to win the day in the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA).
At its 216th General Assembly in late June, the PCUSA’s national assembly voted down an attempt to undercut the denomination’s ban on “gay” clergy.
That attempt came in the form of a committee recommendation that would have allowed sessions (local church leaders) or presbyteries (regional leadership bodies) to decide for themselves whether or not to ordain homosexuals to the ministry.
Earlier in the week, however, the national legislative assembly elected Rick Ufford-Chase to be the PCUSA’s moderator for the next two years. Ufford-Chase supports the ordination of homosexuals as clergy, but said he would uphold the decision of the assembly.
Nevertheless, following his election he told the media: “I look forward to the time when this denomination can delete [the section banning homosexual clergy] from the Book of Order ….”
According to the Associated Press, it was the third time in the last seven years that pro-homosexual forces have attempted to have the ban on “gay” clergy removed from the PCUSA’s constitution.
Despite another failure, activists promised to continue the fight.
The battle with liberalism may be costing the PCUSA members in the pews. According to The Layman, a conservative Presbyterian publication, the denomination lost almost 47,000 members during 2003 alone – the highest percentage loss in more than 25 years. The Layman, said the PCUSA and its predecessor denominations have lost 1.85 million members since 1965.
The Layman’s John Adams said, “The 2003 loss of 46,658 members is the equivalent of dissolving three 300-member congregations every week for an entire year.”
Episcopal, UMC battles continue
Meanwhile, in defiance of conservatives in the U.S. and throughout the worldwide Anglican community, the Episcopal bishop of Washington, D.C., Right Rev. John B. Chane, performed a same-sex “blessing” ceremony on June 12 – Gay Pride Day in the nation’s capital. Held at an Episcopal church in Maryland, Chane joined together Episcopal priest Michael Hopkins and his homosexual partner.
At last summer’s general convention, a majority of Episcopal Church bishops set the stage for a split between conservatives and liberals. The bishops not only elected a self-avowed and practicing homosexual man as bishop for the diocese of New Hampshire, but also refused to forbid bishops from blessing same-sex couples.
Also demonstrating the growing apostasy among some of the Anglican denominations in the West, the Anglican Church of Canada affirmed same-sex relationships, although it stopped short of approving the official blessing of those unions.
At its June convention, the General Synod, which is the highest governing body of the Anglican Church of Canada, approved a resolution that endorsed “the integrity and sanctity of committed adult same-sex relationships.”
Elsewhere, in the United Methodist Church’s (UMC) liberal Pacific Northwest Conference, yet another homosexual minister has been appointed to a church, despite that denomination’s clear church laws against such action.
According to The Seattle Times, Rev. Katie Ladd, a lesbian, was appointed to the pastorate of a Seattle-area United Methodist Church.
The appointment by Bishop Elias Galvan follows the turmoil created when a church trial failed in March to find lesbian minister Karen Dammann guilty of breaking church law after she openly admitted to being in a same-sex relationship.
www.americananglican.org, 6/11/04; Washington Post, 6/7/04; Planet Out Network, 6/3/04; www.wnd.com, 6/24/04; www.pcusa.org, 6/26/04, 6/27/04; AP, 6/27/04, 6/29/04; www.layman.org, 6/7/04; The Seattle Times, 6/9/04