Mexican Presbyterians end relationship with US church over gays
The National Presbyterian Church of Mexico has voted to end its 139-year relationship with the Presbyterian Church (USA), in response to the US church’s decision earlier this year to allow the ordination of sexually active gays and lesbians.
According to a news release on the US church’s website, the decision came on a 116 to 22 vote of the Mexican church assembly on August 19.
The release said it likely will jeopardise the continuation of the work that 11 US church mission co-workers have been doing in Mexico, including work along the US-Mexican border, as well as the future of short-term congregational mission trips to Mexico and more than two dozen partnerships.
Before the assembly began, there was talk of dissatisfaction with the US church’s decision to remove from the denomination’s Book of Order a requirement that those being ordained practice fidelity if they are married or chastity if they are single.
Presbyteries and sessions now will examine candidates for ordination or installation with the standard being that a candidate’s “manner of life should be a demonstration of the Christian gospel in the church and in the world”. The new language also states that “governing bodies shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates.”
The Mexican delegates also voted not to re-establish any relationship with the US church unless the change is rescinded, the news release said.
The Mexican church, with close to two million members, also considered the ordination of women to the priesthood. The special assembly, held August 17-19, was called specifically to discuss the issue and voted 158 to 14 to sustain its policy of not ordaining women.
The assembly also voted 103 to 55 not to allow any sort of grace period for presbyteries that had, on their own, already begun ordaining women. That vote means that any presbytery which has already ordained women must immediately revoke those ordinations.
“Presbyterians do mission in partnership here and around the world, so we take the voice of the Mexican church very seriously,” said the US church’s Director of World Mission, Hunter Farrell, in a statement. “We are grieved by their decision, but we want to emphasise that we are grateful for their witness and our history together, and will listen carefully as we engage in dialogue about where God is leading us in mission.”
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