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'Gay' clergy issue splitting churches

Charlie Butts   ( Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Church of Scotland is experiencing a rift for the same reason churches in the U.S. are breaking away from their denominations.

Members of an old Church of Scotland in Glasgow celebrated Christmas in new facilities this year after closing St. George's Tron over the issue of the ordination of homosexuals. Before closing its doors, the church's last service was held December 9. More than 500 worshippers came to hear Rev. Dr. Willie Philip deliver the final sermon.

LaBerge, Carmen Fowler (Presbyterian Lay Committee)That is a reflection of what is happening in reform churches worldwide, particularly in the Presbyterian Church USA, says Carmen Fowler LaBerge of the Presbyterian Lay Committee. LaBerge says it is not the church that is leaving the denomination; the denomination is leaving its members behind over theological disputes.

"We have Presbyterians who have been raised believing that the Bible is the Word of God, Jesus is the only way to salvation, that we are called to, by the power of the Holy Spirit, conform to the revealed will of God in the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments," LaBerge accounts.

But, she continues, there is also the emerging liberal group "believing that the Bible is a reference point to the Word of God, believing that Jesus is one way to salvation, believing that we are supposed to be adapting what our view of God is to the world in which we live," the Committee president notes.

She refers to it "as a self-inflicted mortal wound" and an expression of a "global realignment of Christianity." In response, biblically based churches are leaving for conservative denominations or new denominations.

Laberge asserts that many PC(USA), Lutheran, Episcopalian and United Methodist churches will close within the next decade.

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