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Presbyterian officer announces retirement

Presbyterian officer announces retirement

The Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick will retire when his term as the top official of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) expires next year.

Kirkpatrick has been elected three times since 1996 as stated clerk, the top church officer for the 2.3 million-member denomination.

He plans to spend more time with family and as president of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, which includes more than 200 Protestant denominations.

''While this work has been a great blessing, it has also taken a significant amount of time and energy and has been accompanied with more than a fair share of stresses and strains,'' Kirkpatrick said. ''A change in my life patterns is probably in order.''

The stated clerk of the denomination is responsible for such matters as church property, research, church legislative sessions and legal matters.

Some conservatives have criticized Kirkpatrick for a continued membership decline in the denomination and his handling of the ongoing controversy over homosexuality in the church.

Declining donations prompted Kirkpatrick's office to announce plans to cut seven positions. He has acknowledged some of the decline is due to congregations withholding funds out of protest but has said the churches' economic struggles are a bigger factor. (AP)

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