On a recent Sunday, members of Fremont Presbyterian Church gathered in the courtyard under the blossoming crab apple tree for coffee and conversation before going their separate spiritual ways.
Divided by their differences – the congregation falls into camps of so-called progressives and traditionalists – the members nonetheless share sacred spaces at the church site near California State University, Sacramento, at Carlson Drive and H Street.
About 50 progressives who support the Presbyterian Church USA’s decision to allow gay clergy prayed in the church’s chapel at 11:15 a.m. Meanwhile, 300 traditionalists who left the Presbyterian Church USA for the more conservative Evangelical Presbyterian Church last year joined the 11 a.m. service at the adjacent Community Life Center.
More than 200 Presbyterian congregations nationwide – including nine in Sacramento – have been torn asunder over the Presbyterian Church USA’s new rules and the ordination of its first gay minister, who is a former Sacramento pastor. The rift has result in lawsuits, sold churches, broken friendships and scattered congregations.