More than any other mainline Protestant executive in the past dozen years, Clifton Kirkpatrick of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been on the hot seat almost annually over church disputes, usually concerning the ordination of noncelibate gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex unions.
Because the blessings of two lesbian couples were called “unions” or “weddings,” not “marriages,” the highest court in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has reversed a lower court’s censure of lesbian clergywoman Jane Spahr, who performed the rites in California.
A national Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) committee has nominated Gradye Parsons, a former Tennessee pastor and presbytery executive, to succeed Clifton Kirkpatrick as stated clerk, the denomination’s top executive, at the June 17 election during the PCUSA’s biennial General Assembly in San Jose, California.
At the last biennial Presbyterian General Assembly, many gay-rights supporters along with many conservatives weary of decades-old fights approved a delicate compromise that kept the ordination standards of “chastity and fidelity” but allowed presbyteries to approve otherwise qualified gay and lesbian clergy candidates who morally objected to the rules.
Presbyterians in Minneapolis–St. Paul have voted to restore the ordination of an openly gay man who has refused to pledge celibacy, in the latest test of revamped pastoral guidelines in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approved in 2006 a procedure for ordaining gay and lesbian candidates for ministry, but the first step in that direction was not taken until a San Francisco regional body did so last month.
Will continue with World Alliance of Reformed Churches
Oct 02, 2007
Clifton Kirkpatrick, the top official who has led the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) through seemingly interminable social-theological disputes over homosexuality, scripture and church law since 1996, has announced that he will not run for a fourth term as stated clerk in June.
Active membership in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) continues to drop, registering a dip of about 46,000 members last year to 2.26 million, according to statistics released by PCUSA officials in Louisville, Kentucky.
The Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery says that reconciliation efforts have failed to convince its second-largest congregation to remain in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The 2,600-member Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church of Tulsa was thus declared last month to be in schism with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) by the regional body.