In a move
emblematic of mainline Protestant divisions over sexuality,
members of the largest church in the Pittsburgh Presbytery
voted to leave the Presbyterian Church (USA) and join
a smaller, more conservative denomination.
congregational meeting, 951 members of Memorial Park
Presbyterian Church in McCandless Township voted to be
affiliated with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.
Fifty-two percent, or 761 members, of the 1,450-member
congregation needed to approve the plan.
''We are saddened
that Memorial Park members and leaders have elected to
separate from the Presbyterian Church,'' James Mead, pastor
to Pittsburgh Presbytery, said in a statement.
''However, we believe that wrestling with such painful
issues is part of God's redemptive plan for the
church officials said last month they were concerned about
the national denomination's move away from traditional
doctrines concerning the Holy Trinity and the
authority of the Bible, and its increasingly liberal
views on gay ordination.
church officials have said their issue isn't with the
presbytery, a regional body of churches, but the national
Church (USA) is among several Protestant denominations
embroiled in a bitter debate between conservatives and
liberals over what role gays should have in their
churches. The national church's highest court ruled in
2000 that Presbyterian churches may bless same-sex unions
as long as they don't equate the relationships with