FAQs - Same-Gender Marriage
(Detroit—June 19, 2014)—The 221st General Assembly (2014) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) today approved a measure giving pastors the discretion to perform same-gender marriages in states where it is legal. It offers the same discretion for churches with regard to the use of church property. The measure takes effect upon the conclusion of the General Assembly on Saturday, June 21, 2014. A proposed amendment to change the Constitution to include same-gender marriages in the church’s Constitution passed the General Assembly but must be ratified by a majority of the church’s 172 regional presbyteries. Presbyteries have one year to vote on the proposed amendment. If a majority ratifies the amendment, it would take effect June 21, 2015.
Middle East and Divestments
The 221st General Assembly (2014) voted by a narrow margin to divest from three U.S. companies—Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, and Motorola Solutions—whose products are used to further the Israeli occupation of Palestine. The assembly’s vote was 310-303.
The Statistical Grass Is Not Greener on the Other Side
By Rev. Mike Cole, General Presbyter, Presbytery of New Covenant
“We will be better off in another denomination,” said the person who has decided God’s will for their congregation. That assumption has always left me wondering what is meant by “better off,” but I’ve never seen any data to support or challenge that assumption. That’s why I decided to do my own research on the subject.
The Evangelical Presbyterian Church graciously provided me with their 2012 statistics and the Office of General Assembly provided our GA statistics for the last ten years. I tracked 85 congregations that were in the PCUSA prior to 2008 and have since left for the EPC. These 85 congregations represent 20% of the current membership of the EPC, making them a statistically significant sample to study. By the way, without these 85 congregations, the EPC would have recorded a 3% loss in membership from 2011 to 2012.