By Jeff Gissing, Juicy Ecumenism.
According to the Religion New Service, global Presbyterian denominations continue to distance themselves from the Presbyterian Church (USA) in response to actions of its General Assembly to permit the ordination of practicing homosexuals (2011) and to redefine Christian marriage to allow, but not mandate, same-sex weddings (2014). The Presbyterian Churches of Brazil and Peru join the Presbyterian Church of Mexico who, in 2011, ceased its mission partnership with the PC(USA).
Representatives of the PCUSA–including the denomination’s highest elected official Stated Clerk, Gradye Parsons–contend that the disagreement is simply about the extent to which the Christian church should endorse LGBT people in their sexual identity: “Some think they should be loved and changed, and some think they should be loved and accepted.”
The churches of the Global South don’t quite see it that way. In their letter announcing the break, the Presbyterian Church of Brazil stated that the PCUSA’s position goes, “against the principle of the authority of Scripture over the life and faith of the Church.”
As a result, partnerships in Brazil—such as ones that provides continuing education for Brazilian pastors and missionaries and plants new churches—will cease in 2016. However, the PCUSA continues to maintain links to the United Presbyterian Church of Brazil, a younger and smaller denomination that separated from the Presbyterian Church of Brazil in the 1970s. Work will also continue in Peru, though through other Presbyterian denominations in that country.
These rifts are tragic given that American Presbyterianism has a long history of significant global mission work—including starting virtually all of the denominations that have now distanced themselves from the PCUSA.