The four churches — members of Giddings Lovejoy Presbytery — who received the letter which cited Leviticus 20:13, were:
- Westminster Presbyterian Church in Cape Girardeau.
- First Presbyterian Church in Cape Girardeau.
- First Presbyterian Church in Jackson
- First Presbyterian Church in Perryville
“Any church that accepts this action, should be burned to the ground, any any (sic) pastor who performs such marriage should be kicked out of the church forever,” read the letter. “The above statement could happen to any church that performs this action ….. You have been warned churches.”
Carmen Fowler LaBerge, president of the Presbyterian Lay Committee, strongly condemned the message of the letters. “”Neither the PCUSA’s abdication of the Bible nor the letter writer’s abdication of the principle of peace are in the Spirit of Christ. Both are a violation of the fellowship of Christian believers who are called to be the very Body of Christ in the world today. Neither the witness of the PCUSA in seeking to bless what God does not bless nor the letter writer’s threat of violence against the visible church make the gospel of Jesus visible or beautiful; and neither should be exalted as a legitimate witness of Christ to the world.”
The Rev. Karen Dumey, pastor of the Westminster Church, told KFVS news that the “threat is a concern because it appears that someone is angry enough that they want to use violence against the church.”
The Rev. Nancy Farris Gillard pastor of First Presbyterian in Perryville, told KFVS that “she has never received a threat like this in the 25 years she has been involved with a church.”
The Layman Online asked both pastors, along with the Rev. Dr. Grant Gillard of First Presbyterian in Jackson, and Presbytery Leader the Rev. Dr. Anita Hendrix of Gidding, for comments. At this time, none have responded.
The Rev. Dr. Kim Nelson, pastor of the 191-member First Presbyterian in Cape Girardeau, refused an email request for a comment from The Layman Online. “Since The Presbyterian Layman is not an official publication of our denomination, I am not willing to reply to your inquiry,” he wrote.
On March 17, a majority of PCUSA presbyteries voted in favor of an amendment to the denomination’s constitution that changed the denomination’s definition of marriage so that same-sex weddings may be conducted by PCUSA pastors and in PCUSA churches.