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Presbyterian church votes to leave national church over gays

Presbyterian church votes to leave national church over gays

A majority of members at Pittsburgh presbytery's largest church voted Sunday to split off from the Presbyterian Church (USA) and join a more conservative denomination, in part because of the national church's growing inclusion of gays. Of the 1,450 members of Memorial Park Presbyterian Church in McCandless Township, 951 voted to join the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, reports the Associated Press.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) is one of many Protestant denominations currently struggling with the role of gays in the congregation and on the pulpit. Memorial Park church officials expressed their concern with the national church's more liberal stance on gay ordination, a recent move away from traditional religious doctrine. A national church court decision from the year 2000 also allows Presbyterian churches to bless same-sex unions so long as the unions are not equated with marriage.

In 1999 the Memorial Park congregation became a "confessing church," part of a popular movement within many American Protestant denominations that includes questioning the treatment of sexuality and homosexuality by the modern Christian community.

"We are saddened that Memorial Park members and leaders have elected to separate from the Presbyterian Church," Pittsburgh presbytery pastor James Mead said in a statement after Sunday's vote. "However, we believe that wrestling with such painful issues is part of God's redemptive plan for the world." (The Advocate)

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