In a landmark decision, the Presbyterian Church (USA) has voted to change the wording of the â??Worshipâ?? portion of their Book of Order to change marriage from being between a man and a woman to being between two people. This decision is not the reason some Amarillo churches have decided to disaffiliate themselves with the Presbyterian Church (USA), but some say it is a branch of a much larger issue.
â??Iâ??d say the broader issue, Iâ??d say it is the authority of the Scripture, as far as living under Godâ??s word,â?? said Associate Pastor Murray Gossett of First Presbyterian Church, Amarillo. â??This is just one example where we believe PCUSA, over a number of years, have continued to remove from living under the authority of the Word to probably greatly impacted by culture.â??
Gossett believes there is a large change happening in the church these days, and for this reason, his church has decided to stand by Biblical historical doctrine and move their affiliation to the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians or ECO. Three of the four churches associated with the Presbyterian Church (USA) are currently in the process of that change.
Jim Wallace, Pastor of Saint Luke Presbyterian Church, attended the general assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and said that the general assembly does not create the issues or topics discussed at the event, but it is a reflection of what is being discussed in churches and presbyteries.
â??This is something thatâ??s been discussed for a long time. Itâ??s not something that just popped up. Thereâ??s been a change in the culture in many parts of the states,â?? said Wallace.
He said the topic was hotly discussed, but that proponents for the proposal said that pastors who live and work in states where same sex marriage is legal wanted the ability to pastorally serve their entire congregation and officiate on marriages of the same sex. However, opponents said that the Bible clearly defined marriage as between a man and a woman.
Diana Finrock Farrar, author of â??The Door of the Heartâ?? is a lifelong Presbyterian and also an advocate for the LGBT community. She said she believes this decision by the church is greatly significant for the relationship between gays and the church.
â??Thereâ??s been a big shift, not just societal shift, but a large shift in the church,â?? said Farrar. â??Iâ??m not surprised that this happened, Iâ??m surprised that it happened so overwhelmingly. There were only a handful that were voting against making these changes. It was an overwhelming victory. I think there is more unity in the church than anyone was aware of.â??
The proposal will not become final until it receives more than half of the votes of its presbyteries around the country. Those results will not be final for another year.