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Two significant items: The Central Washington Presbytery is beginning to consider steps to remove itself from the PCUSA. A presbytery is a regional association of congregations.

The Presbytery of Central Washington has approved a resolution declaring that the General Assemblies of 2006 and 2008 “have brought our PCUSA denomination to a point of crisis. Actions of these assemblies have broken the connection and covenant that has existed in our church since the first meetings of our General Assembly.”

The Presbytery report also included this quotation from the respected German theologian Wolfhart Pannenburg:

6. Finally, we believe that we have come to a tipping point as a denomination. We affirm the words of Wolfhart Pannenberg:
“Those who urge the church to change the norm of its teaching on this matter must know that they are promoting schism. If a church were to let itself be pushed to the point where it ceased to treat homosexual activity as a departure from the biblical norm, and recognized homosexual unions as a personal partnership of love equivalent to marriage, such a church would stand no longer on biblical ground but against the unequivocal witness of Scripture. A church that took this step would cease to be the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.” (Church Times, June 21, 1996)

Full story. from The Layman.

And, also from the Northwest, Second Presbyterian Church in Portland has worked out an agreement with its Presbytery to leave the denomination with its property in exchange for cash contributions to the Presbytery. Second Pres, Portland, is exactly the kind of large, healthy congregation a denomination cannot afford to lose.

According to denominational data, Sunset’s membership at the end of 2007 was 1,957. Sunday school attendance averaged 3,911 and the average turnout for Sunday worship services was 2,067.

Attendance larger than membership is not common, and indicates a growing, energetic, faithful congregation.

Full story from The Layman.
The conservative Diocese of Pittsburgh voted to split from the Episcopal Church. The plan is to remain within Anglicanism and unite with a South American Anglican province. Story here.

Pittsburgh joins the Diocese of San Joaquin in splitting. This fall two more Diocese will take their final votes on leaving--Quincy, Illinois, and Ft. Worth, Texas.

The issue is Biblical Interpretation in general, and same-sex practice in particular.

While I am not predicting Civil War, I will point out that we saw denominations split over slavery in the decades leading up to Secession. Slavery was one issue this nation could not solve politically and so did by force of arms. The inability of the Christian denominations to resolve the slavery issue and remain united previewed the political split.

As a nation we are divided on several cultural issues--abortion, same-sex marriage, etc. The splits in the churches probably tells us that there is no compromise solution possible in our national life. We will continue to fight over the issues.