Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) leaders are doing plenty of explaining inside and outside their churches these days after their church’s top legislative body took stances in June on two volatile issues — opening the way to same-sex marriages involving its pastors and churches and pulling investments in companies aiding the Israeli-occupation of Palestinian lands.
The divestment vote has strained relations with the Jewish community, historically a partner with Presbyterians in interfaith dialogues and lobbying for civil rights, immigration reform and other causes.
The marriage vote is testing the commitment of the dwindling ranks of conservatives in the denomination. Church leaders have been distributing letters and fact sheets to the congregations and holding high-level talks with their counterparts in other denominations and in mission churches abroad, many with more conservative views on marriage.
“These are difficult times in many ways,” said the Rev. Sheldon Sorge, general minister of the Pittsburgh Presbytery. “We have certainly received expressions of concern from individual members about General Assembly decisions.”