The 1.67 million member Presbyterian Church (USA) has voted to redefine marriage from “between a woman and a man” to “between two people, traditionally a man and a woman.” Last year’s General Assembly approved the change, which was confirmed by a majority of local presbyteries this year. It confirms a trajectory starting with the church’s 2010-11 vote to delete its expectation of “fidelity and chastity” by clergy and continuing with its 2012-13 vote to permit clergy to conduct same-sex unions where legal in civil law.
Unsurprisingly, since liberalizing its teaching on sexual morality in 2010-11, the PCUSA has lost nearly 300,000 members, including over 400 congregations, many of them among the denomination’s largest. Most of the departing churches have joined the Evangelical Presbyterian Church or taken part in the creation of the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians.
The PCUSA had over three million members in 1983 when it was formed in a merger. Its predecessor bodies had over four million at their peak in the 1960’s. Its 2014 loss of over 92,000 was its largest percentage loss, at over five percent. Its 2012 loss, nearly 103,000, was its largest numeric loss. Total donations to the PCUSA in 2013-14 declined by over $100 million, from $1.8 billion to $1.7 billion.
In typical Mainline Protestant style,...