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PCUSA Reeling After Gay Embrace

Set to lose 400,000+ members in five years

Can Seventh-day Adventists learn from the history of others? The Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) approved the ordination of women as elders in 1929 and as ministers in 1956. In 2013 its General Assembly approved the ordination of openly gay persons to ministry. Predictably, in 2014 the church redefined marriage as a covenant uniting two persons (rather than as uniting a husband and wife). These actions were ratified in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
It was anticipated that membership would increase on the basis of this more “inclusive” denominational stance. What actually occurred was that the Presbyterian Church USA lost a quarter of a million members in 2013 and is projecting average losses between 75,000 and 100,000 members annually in the 2015-2020 period. The following membership numbers are based upon a PCUSA budgeting presentation.

2012 2,004,192 (- 82,952)
2013 1,921,240 (-254,473)
2014 1,666,767 (-100,000 Projected Membership Loss)
2015 1,566,767 (-100,000 Projected Membership Loss)
2016 1,466,767 (-100,000 Projected Membership Loss)
2017 1,391,767 (- 75,000 Projected Membership Loss)
2018 1,316,767 (- 75,000 Projected Membership Loss)
2019 1,241,767 (- 75,000 Projected Membership Loss)
2020 1,166,767 (- 75,000 Projected Membership Loss)
(Source: PCUSA Budgeting slide:

Some of this decline is based on the death of aging members. Still, this would only account for a limited portion. The extraordinary projections almost certainly reflect anticipation of continued exodus of members to more conservative Presbyterian bodies. These include the Presbyterian Church of America (formed in 1973 and rejects women’s ordination), Evangelical Presbyterian Church, and ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians formed in 2012. As of November 13, 2015, ECO included 231 congregations.
Meanwhile, according to apportionment numbers, even with 3% annual increases in 2017-2020, PCUSA will substantially exhaust most of its financial resources by the close of that period.
Women’s ordination weakens a body, SOGI issues (Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity) destroy it. In 2009 the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America approved both same-sex “marriage” and the ordination of gay clergy, only to loose more than 600 congregations in the next two years. PCUSA and ELCA seem engaged in a competition over which denomination will be the first to be completely dissolved.
UPDATE 2016-02-11: There are varying reports about membership loss numbers as reflected in comments in links below. It in not completely clear which numbers are more correct, although the large 2013 numbers we draw from the budget department slide could reflect the same-sex “marriage decision and its straw-that-broke-the-camel’s-back effect and rise of ECO. Either way, we hold that this demonstrates a correlation between the pro-gay decisions and the exodus from PCUSA. Those wishing to follow up more closely can peruse the links provided by brother Pickle in his post. –Admin

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Women's Ordination: Historic Failure

Pr. Doug Batchelor explores briefly the history of women’s ordination and kindred issues in five other particular denominations in recent time and makes an appeal to General Conference delegates. Short video.
Those interested in growing the Seventh-day Adventist Church should pay close attention to this video…

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"Elder Statesmen," Women's Ordination, Church Fracture

With the approach of the General Conference session of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in San Antonio, Texas in 2015, advocates of women’s ordination in the church have begun to launch new articles, videos, and websites promoting their views. Some sixty days out from the beginning of the session, six retired church leaders launched a site with video and text doing this very thing. Their site identifies them as “elder statesmen” of the church.
They argue that it is now time for the church to embrace women’s ordination on a per-division basis. They also speak of fracture in the church if women’s ordination is not permitted by the upcoming vote in San Antonio.
The Council of Adventist Pastors (CAP) have viewed the site and video and the arguments of the “elder statesmen.” In the document linked to this post, CAP considers this material and reacts to the ideas and arguments presented by the retired leaders. The Council of Adventist Pastors invites delegates and readers to consider our response in reference to these serious matters.

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NAD's cultural WO solution

Pastors Larry Kirkpatrick and Mike Lambert discuss “NAD’s cultural WO solution.” Although the North American Division has packaged the adoption of women’s ordination as being a biblical necessity, the solution they insist upon for the church is strangely identical to the one offered by Lutheran scholar John H.P. Reumann to ELCA in 1987—just three years before the original attempt by the NAD to introduce WO to the world field in 1990 GC session. The CAP pastors also discuss a most critical hermeneutical admission made by Ruemann—although one that, so far, NAD WO advocates have not acknowledged.

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WO, homosexuality, and Lutheranism

By Many Hands

(ABOVE: Current ELCA presiding bishop Elizabeth Eaton December 5, 2013.)

(ABOVE: Matthew C. Harrison, August 29, 2009, commenting on the ECLA vote. “We must be willing to confess our dogma. We must be willing to confess Scripture, no matter what the world presses upon us.” Harrison is co-editor of the book Women Pastors? The Ordination of Women in Lutheran Perspective. He became LCMS president July 13, 2010.)

Although is especially focused on the Seventh-day Adventist Church, in order to keep church members informed, from time to time we share notes on the historical development of current Adventist problems as seen in other Christian groups. Often certain challenges that find their way to the front in the Adventist Church are seen in other groups many years beforehand.
The Lutheran Church is “ahead” of us on the questions of women’s ordination and homosexuality. Here’s a short sketch.
The whole sequence of events proceeded thus. In the 1960’s the evolutionary approach to creation was adopted by the LCA (Lutheran Church of America). In 1970 the denomination voted to ordain women pastors.

The actual step in the LCA permitting the ordination of women was quite simple. At the biennial convention at Minneapolis, as part of the report of the Commission on the Comprehensive Study of the Doctrine of the Ministry, it was recommended that in church bylaws the word ‘man’ in defining ‘a minister of this church’ be changed to ‘person.’ Shortly after 10 P.M. on June 29, 1970, the item was adopted ‘with a resounding voice vote,’ one delegate (a woman) asking to have her negative recorded. Appropriate changes were made in other church documents, and the first woman ordained, a campus pastor, on November 22, 1970″ (John H.P. Reumann, Ministries Examined (1987), p. 122).

No doubt the whole purpose behind the Comprehensive Study document was to introduce the change in wording from “male” to “person.” From the vote in June until the first female ordination on November 22, just 116 days passed.
In 1971 J.A.O. Preuss II was elected president of LCMS (Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod) which had been friendly with LCA. Controversy within LCMS exploded in the mid-1970s resulting in the removal from Concordia Theological Seminary of professors who practiced the Historical-critical method of biblical interpretation. The LCMS is the largest Lutheran body rejecting the ordination of women.
Reumann’s book quoted above advocates women’s ordination. Reumann was full-on historical-critical. He admits,

To begin with the Old Testament, with 1 Corinthians 14, or 1 Timothy 2, can lead only to the exclusion of women from ordained ministry. . . On the other hand, if one begins with Galatians 3:27-28, a case is possible that women should share equally with men in the church’s Ministry (Ibid., p. 117).

The LCA agreed to unite with the ALC and the AELC (which withdrawn from Missouri Synod in 1982) and the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) was thus formed in 1988. Twenty-one years later the ELCA assembly voted to approve same-sex marriage and the ordination of practicing homosexuals. That action was taken on the basis of a ten year “sociological study” of human sexuality, not on the basis of a biblical study. It was all possible because of a gradual erosion of sola scriptura and the inevitable hermeneutic that followed—most of which had developed virtually unperceived by the laity.
On August 21, 2009, the ELCA Assembly in Minneapolis voted to permit congregations to call and ordain gays and lesbians “in committed monogamous relationships” to serve as clergy. Voting 559 to 451, delegates declared that persons in “publicly accountable, lifelong, monogamous same-gender relationships” could serve as ministers. The decision was not made binding for all ELCA Congregations.
Since then, the ELCA has lost more than 1000 congregations and at least a half-million members—approximately a fifth of its total membership. According to public figures, the ELCA budget stood at 88 million in 2005. The budget of the ELCA in 2011 was 48 million dollars.

(ABOVE: Then ELCA presiding bishop Mark Hanson announces ELCA downsizing October 15, 2010. The is the same person who officiates at the installation of practicing homosexual Guy Erwin in the video link later in this article.)
These links show ELCA membership trends both before and after the 2009 decision:
While some 1000 congregations have left the ELCA, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and the Wisconsin Evangelical Synod have benefited from new members and congregations. Additionally, two newer groups have sprung up including many former ELCA congregations. The LCMC is the Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ have gained some 500 new congregations in America since the 2009 ELCA decision. The NALC (North American Lutheran Church) was formed in 2010, and now numbers more than 350 congregations. Several other ELCA Lutherans have left it because of these developments and, almost unbelievably, joined the Roman Catholic Church (which rejects the ordination of women and homosexuals). A cursory search across the internet reveals that many ELCA members have left and joined the Roman Catholic Church as well.
But nothing stands still. The Rev. Dr. R. Guy Erwin on May 31, 2013 became the first practicing homosexual man to be chosen bishop in the ELCA. He was elected to a six year term as bishop of Southwest California Synod. (Video of Erwin’s “installation.”)
On August 14, 2013 the ELCA elected its first female world church leader, the Elizabeth Eaton. Eaton appeals to her church in the short 1:14 minute message linked above.
One last item. The ELCA is also part of the 70 million member Lutheran World Federation. The LWF offers a remarkable 44 page book for free download entitled Gender Justice Policy, which focuses on quotas for women in leadership in the church, enforcement, and well as hermeneutical approaches. The book is fairly slow in the early pages, but eventually begins to read somewhat similarly to the hermeneutics section of the NAD Report. For a hint on what’s planned, see the LWF Gender Justice Policy introduction video.
We would like to make it clear that LCMS, WELS, and the newer Lutheran bodies mentioned above have chosen not to ordain women, nor do they accept same-sex marriages nor ordain practicing homosexual clergy. The key difference between the two groups of Lutheran bodies is exactly in their systems of biblical interpretation. The Lutheran bodies which do not ordain women or favor homosexuality, employ the historical-grammatical method; those Lutheran bodies which ordain women and which accept the practice of homosexuality, favor critically-based methods.