The Presbyterian Church (USA) (PCUSA) is the largest branch of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. It is headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky
, has 2.5 million members and 11,200 congregations, and 21,000 ordained ministers. Like all Presbyterians it follows Reformed Theology
and uses a Presbyterian
form of church government. John Calvin
refined protestant thought during the Protestant Reformation
to develop Reformed Theology, which was brought to Scotland
by John Knox
The first presbytery
in the US was organized in Philadelphia
in 1683 by Rev. Francis MacKemie
; and since then the Presbyterian Church has split into many smaller branches.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) was created by the reunification of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. (PCUS), the so-called "southern branch," and the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (UPCUSA), the so-called "northern branch in 1983, which had been separated since the Civil War.
Positions on Social Issues
The General Assembly (central governing body) agrees that there are no biblical texts that speak expressly to the topic of abortion, but feels that the bible is filled with “messages that advocate respect for the woman and child before and after birth”.
Areas of general agreement:
- Church members with differing views on the subject should all be welcomed and heard.
- The issue of abortion and problematic pregnancies covers so many different situations that it is impossible to address them all.
- The church affirms the ability and responsibility of women together with the Holy Spirit, Scriptures, and their community, to make moral choices in connection to problem pregnancies.
- All efforts should be made to reduce problem pregnancies and the number of abortions.
- Termination of a pregnancy can be morally justifiable especially in the case of rape, incest, risk to the health (including mental) of mother or child, or risk of severe physical or mental deformity
- Abortion should not be used as birth control, for gender selection only or solely to obtain fetal parts for transplantation.
- There should be no law completely banning abortion, or removing funding for abortions for woman who cannot afford them otherwise.
- It is important that a woman should have true choice regardless of her social situation, and it is important to the Christian Community address poverty, unjust societal realities, sexism, racism, and inadequate supportive relationships that may render a woman virtually powerless to choose freely.
The PCUSA is opposed to the death penalty as being un-Christian and “an expression of vengeance which contradicts the justice of God on the cross."
While the church supports giving equal legal rights to homosexuals in society, the repealing of laws governing private sexual behavior between consenting adults and other discriminatory legislation or practices, and includes language welcoming homosexuals into the church and condemning homophobia, the church does not allow same sex marriages, and is still in the process of removing language from the Book of Order which prevents gays and lesbians from being ordained as elders, deacons or ministers. The language requires church officers to practice "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness," was criticized by many not just because it prevented the ordination of homosexuals, but also because it would place the private lives of the officials under investigation. The 213th General Assembly voted to remove the language, and it now going to be sent to the presbyteries for approval.
For more information check out the PCUSA webpage: www.pcusa.org, and the Book of Orders