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Churches' response to homosexuality


The Presbyterian Church (USA):
Over 3 decades (so far) of painful
conflict & evolution on gay ordination,
civil unions,
and same-sex marriage.

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On this web site the term "LGBT" refers to the Lesbian,
Gay, Bisexual
, Transgender and Transsexual community.

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The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) [a.k.a. PCUSA] is a mainline Christian denomination in the U.S.

Its name is often confused with the Presbyterian Church in America [a.k.a. PCA]. The PCA is a smaller and much more conservative denomination. It split from the PCUSA decades ago because it could not accept the concept of female clergy. The PCA's beliefs and practices concerning lesbian, gay and bisexual ordination are discussed in a separate essay.

At the PCUSA's General Assembly in mid-2014, delegates voted to give the minister and session of each congregation the responsibility to decide whether or not to marry same-sex couples. At the time, such marriages could only happen in states that have attained marriage equality by legalizing same-sex marriage. A year later, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage everywhere in the U.S. except for American Samoa.

The delegates also approved an amendment to the denomination's definition of marriage in their Book of Order. It recognized marriage by both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. The change was sent to the individual presbyteries for ratification. By 2015-MAR, the majority of presbyteries had approved of the amendment.

Within U.S. Presbyterian denominations:

  • A session is sometimes called a consistory or church board. It is a body of elected elders governing a local congregation.

  • A presbytery is an administrative body within the denomination including all the local congregations within a defined geographical area. There are often more than one presbytery in a state.

Topics about the Presbyterian Church (USA) covered in this section:

bullet Quotations. Overview of the PC(USA)

bullet Background: PCUSA schisms and mergers. Church membership. Recent conflicts. A survey. Paths forward.

bulletStatements on homosexuality, mainly by the PCUSA's General Assembly:
bullet 1976 to 1999

bullet 2000 to now

Past trials and other controversies:
bullet Shower of Stoles project and the Women of Faith award.

bullet Church trials of Elder "Doug," Rev. Jane Spahr, Scott Anderson, and Laurie McNeill. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

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bullet Affirmation 2001, the new "Auburn Affirmation."

The three main sexual issues facing the denomination during the late 20th century and early 21st:
bullet 1978 to 2011: Ordination of gays lesbians in covenanted relationships (Settled)

bullet 1991 to 2003: Whether the denomination should recognize same-sex unions, committment ceremonies, and same-sex civil marriages: (Conflict initially left unresolved)


2008 to 2015: More develpments on commitment ceremonies, civil unions. Progress made on recognizing same-sex marriage:

bullet Church responses to internal conservative / liberal stresses
bullet Presbyterian resources on gay/lesbian issues

Ebooks and printed books on various Christian approaches to gay/lesbian issues

bullet Within mainline denominations, is compromise possible, or is schism inevitable? An examination of the LGBT conflicts in various Christian denominations

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Sources of information:

bullet The official home page of the Presbyterian Church (USA) is at:

bullet The Presbyterian Forum, a conservative renewal group, maintains a page of links to Presbyterian groups, both liberal and conservative. See:


  1. "Presbyterians May Debate Gay Clergy Ban," The Associated Press, 2003-MAY-23. Online at: at:
  2. Rose French, "Presbyterians to allow gays to be ordained ministers," Associated Press, 2011-MAY-11, at:

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Copyright 1996 to 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update 2015-JUN-25
Author: B.A. Robinson
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