By Marie Bowen, Presbyterians Pro-Life
At the General Assembly in Detroit in 2014, the Presbyterian Church (USA) approved an overture initiated in the Neelsville Presbyterian Church in Germantown, MD and sent on to the GA by National Capitol and Pittsburgh Presbyteries. The overture asked for the Board of Pensions (BOP) to post the list of Relief of Conscience (ROC) churches online so that both pastors and congregation members could easily learn whether or not their church had Relief of Conscience Status. ROC is a program whereby churches can be assured that the dues they pay for their pastor’s medical benefits plan will not be used to pay for abortions. Abortion is covered by the Medical Benefits Plan of the PCUSA and it is mandatory for all installed pastors. The Relief of Conscience program is of huge importance to pro-life Presbyterians in the PCUSA.
Why it matters
The current list contains 465 churches (including at least half a dozen churches that have left the denomination). Making the list public is really important. I learned just how important this week when I discovered the congregation of which I am a member is NOT on the list. I was not the only one surprised by that–our pastor and clerk of session were also. What that means to me and others who believe abortion is morally wrong, is that our tithes which pay the health plan dues for our pastor are not being separated from the stream that pays for abortions.