Three churches in the PCUSA’s Presbytery of Cincinnati have voted to leave the denomination, according the to Layman Online:

A group of Ohio congregations delivered another blow to the Presbyterian Church (USA) in what is becoming growing fallout following major changes in ordination standards.

“When churches within a denomination cease to hold to the same basic beliefs concerning the faith, it no longer makes sense to be joined under one name,” read a statement issued by Russellville Presbyterian Church (Russellville, Ohio), the Church By The Woods (Sharonville, Ohio) and Holtsinger Memorial Presbyterian Church (Cincinnati, Ohio).

“We believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, and that people are called to try and live in accordance with the standards set forth in the Bible,” the churches stated, adding, “we reject the pluralism that has crept into mainline denominations such as the PCUSA.”

One indication of what has led to these three churches to leave at this time is the vote in the presbytery, which was 99-72 in favor of changing the ordination standards. This despite the fact that, according to one of Russellville’s elders, the presbytery had previously been conservative:

[Elder Dallas] Hurt said the Presbytery of Cincinnati had been “conservative on these issues” for the past 25 years as the controversies began simmering within the General Assembly.

“At this point in time, we have lost those votes [in the presbytery].  We’ve lost the General Assembly,” he said, adding “there is no common ground left.”

The churches now believe, according to their recent statement, that the presbytery is a “frequent proponent of liberal theological change within the PCUSA.”

I suspect this is going to be a determining factor for a lot of evangelical congregations. In the past, there were a lot of churches where they could say, “yeah, there’s lot of loony stuff going on in Louisville, but at least our presbytery is still sane.” With the number of presbyteries that have flipped on the ordination issue (22, at latest count), as well as all the uncertainty surrounding the proposed new Form of Government in the Book of Order, I’m anticipating a lot of churches throwing in the towel. How many is a lot? Beats me. But I’ll bet these three small churches in Ohio are just the tiniest tip of the iceberg.

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