Confessing Church Movement takes stand against same-sex unions

David Virtue DVirtue236 at AOL.COM
Thu May 31 01:48:19 EDT 2001

Rapidly-growing 'Confessing Church Movement' takes stand against same-
sex unions, cultural compromise

By George F. Will

LENOIR, N.C. - A rapidly growing "Confessing Church Movement" that
takes a stand against cultural accommodation hangs over the upcoming
General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), a denomination
wracked by contention over God's truth and the behavior that flows from
it, fidelity and chastity for ministers, gay ordination, same-sex
unions and other issues.

The 213th General Assembly will be held June 9-16 in Louisville, Ky.,
the hometown of the denomination's headquarters.

Against this backdrop, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and ABC News
commentator George F. Will is scheduled to speak on the eve of the
General Assembly. He has written extensively in support of the Church
and in opposition to decisions by the government and the courts that
dilute Christian influence in the public arena.

Will, an Episcopalian whose views parallel many of those of evangelical
Christians, will speak from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, June 8, in the
Galt House Hotel. His appearance is sponsored by the Presbyterian Lay

The grassroots Confessing Church Movement has been endorsed by
congregational leaders in more than 150 churches, representing more
than 50,000 Presbyterians in 34 states, just weeks after it was
announced. It began in mid-March when a small church in Pennsylvania
and the 5,300-member First Presbyterian Church in Orlando approved
similar resolutions that affirmed three major tenets of the Christian

·        That Jesus Christ alone is Lord of all and the way of
·        That holy Scripture is the Triune God's revealed Word, the
Church's only infallible rule of faith and life.
·        That God's people are called to holiness in all aspects of
life. This includes honoring the sanctity of marriage between a man and
a woman, the only relationship within which sexual activity is

The two resolutions, from Summit Presbyterian Church in Butler, Pa.,
and First Presbyterian Church in Orlando, also state that churches and
presbyteries may not ordain any person who cannot abide by or affirm
any of the three standards.

The nascent movement received national attention when it was endorsed
and publicized by the Presbyterian Lay Committee, which publishes the
500,000-circulation Presbyterian Layman. The committee also issued its
own statement urging like-minded Presbyterians to join the movement.

At the General Assembly, commissioners will face nearly 30 overtures to
the "fidelity and chastity" clause of the denomination's Book of Order,
varying from deleting the clause, to rewording it, to declaring that
adopting the clause was "in error."

The defeat of Amendment O, which would have banned same-sex unions in
the denomination, also may impact the upcoming assembly. Other issues
cited by the confessing churches include the General Assembly Council's
refusal to require that salvation through Christ alone - a core tenet
in Scripture and The Book of Confessions - be reflected in
denomination-sponsored programs, conferences and curriculum.

"Pastors and elders are feeling compelled to take a public stand on the
church's historic witness," Williamson said. "They believe they must
confess the faith at a time when their denomination's leadership has
compromised it.

"This is not the first appearance of the Confessing Church," he said.
"At pivotal points in history, when institutional church leaders have
seriously accommodated the church's witness to an unbelieving culture,
the Confessing Church has emerged. The culture sanctioned by many of
the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s elected and staff leaders is a culture
of disbelief. Many of our leaders have so accommodated their views to
the postmodern worldview that they no longer proclaim the gospel. And
in the name of 'diversity,' official church councils sanction their

The movement continues to grow as individuals and congregations large
and small are taking a stand by proclaiming confessions. They include,
for example, such large congregations as the 5,300-member First
Presbyterian Church in Orlando, the 1,694-member First Presbyterian
Church in Baton Rouge, La., and the 1,200-member Advent Presbyterian
Church in Cordova, Tenn.; medium-size congregations such as the 750-
member First Presbyterian Church in Vicksburg, Miss., and the 258-
member Prospect Presbyterian Church in Prospect, Pa.; and even small
congregations such as the 25-member Brandt Memorial Presbyterian Church
in St. Louis, Mo.

"The Presbyterian Lay Committee believes that this movement is the work
of God's Holy Spirit. Our board has declared that it is fully behind
these churches," Williamson said, "and we will support them any way we


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