It turns out that the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s decision to overturn 2000 years of Christian teaching and permit the ordination of sexually active gays is having repercussions beyond the borders of the United States. The National Presbyterian Church of Mexico, which was founded by an ancestor of the PCUSA in the 19th century, has filed for divorce, according to the Presbyterian Outlook:
The National Presbyterian Church of Mexico (known as INPM) has voted to end its 139-year partnership in mission with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), in response to the PC(USA)’s decision earlier this year to allow the ordination of sexually active gays and lesbians.
That decision to sever the relationship came on a 116 to 22 vote of the Mexican church assembly on Aug. 19. It likely will jeopardize the continuation of the work that 11 PC(USA) mission co-workers have been doing in Mexico – including significant work along the U.S.-Mexican border – as well as the future of short-term congregational mission trips to Mexico and more than two-dozen partnerships that PC(USA) presbyteries and synods have established in Mexico.
In meetings before the assembly, PCUSA Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons and colleagues tried the old line about how we can be in mission together even when we don’t agree on their Mexican brethren, who would have none of it:
On Aug. 16, several representatives of the PC(USA) – including Gradye Parsons, the denomination’s stated clerk, and Hunter Farrell, director of World Mission – went to Mexico to meet with 11 leaders of the Mexican church and to discuss the Mexicans’ unhappiness and theological disagreement with the decision on 10-A.
“The discussion was frank and honest,” Farrell wrote in an e-mail following that meeting. “The disappointment of the Mexican church was expressed.”
The PC(USA) representatives asked their Mexican partners to agree to a time of discernment, in part to see how they could continue to work together in mission despite differing views over issues such as ordaining gays and lesbians, or women’s ordination.
“Despite the significant theological differences that 10-A puts between our churches, the mission context of increasing violence on our borders, the precarious situation of the poor in both nations, and our own church’s need for the INPM’s help in sharing the Gospel with Spanish-speakers in the U.S. cries out for prayerful strategizing and increased mission collaboration,” Farrell wrote after that meeting. “The truth is we need each other now more than ever.”
That’s not how the Mexicans see it. I suspect they were of the opinion that joint mission is meaningless (or at best becomes just mutual humanitarianism) if the two churches can’t agree on even the most basic issues of Christian faith and practice. In fact, according to the Outlook, they included a provision in their action that prohibits the restoration of the relationship until the PCUSA repents and repeals the new Book of Order provision that lifts the ban on ordaining non-celibate homosexuals.
The PCUSA has in effect chosen schism as well as heresy by passing Amendment 10-A. The denomination will just have to learn to live in the tiny ghetto it has moved into, along with the other dying mainline American churches.