Presbyterians join groups with widening rifts

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Opinions on the denomination’s long-term prospects vary widely.

The Rev. John Buchanan, pastor at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, said that while staunch conservatives and liberals are unhappy with church policy, the vast middle is satisfied.

“The people of this congregation are not at all distressed with where we are right now,” said Buchanan, a former moderator of the denomination. “And I think there are many, many more churches like that, than there are churches that are unhappy.”

Cutter takes a long view, noting the denomination’s history of splits and mergers.

“The process of union and reunion in the Presbyterian Church ... has been going on for centuries,” he said. “I don’t anticipate it stopping. I anticipate there may be people that want to come back.”

But the Rev. Parker Williamson, editor emeritus of The Layman newspaper, said entire congregations are leaving, an escalation from the usual pattern of disgruntled individuals leaving on their own.

“It’s happening as bits and pieces of the church that are flying off,” Williamson said. He contends that the pace of departures is “ramping up significantly.”

The Rev. Gerrit Dawson, senior pastor of the Baton Rouge church, said his congregation hungers for theological clarity instead of the “institutionalized nebulousness” in the larger denomination.

“PCUSA is not getting better,” Dawson said. “It’s going to keep fragmenting. And we don’t want to spend the rest of our ministries doing that. There’s a world to be reached.”

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Filed under: * Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesPresbyterian

Posted October 13, 2007 at 12:02 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]
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