The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been arguing over several theological issues and ordination standards for quite some time. Without doubt, the most energy has been spent over the ordination of gay and lesbian persons. Significant minorities exist in the church who feel passionately about these issues, and successive General Assemblies have been unable to resolve them.
With hope of finding a way forward through these and other areas of conflict, the 2001 General Assembly approved the formation of the Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity, and Purity of the Church, to be appointed by the current and two previous moderators of the General Assembly.
A diverse group of twenty people met three times annually in three-day meetings over a period of four years, completing their work with the unanimous adoption of their report and recommendations in August 2005, for presentation to the General Assembly in June 2006.
The General Assembly made some amendments to the report and adopted recommendations 1-4 by an 87 percent vote and recommendations 5-6 by a 57 percent vote. No constitutional changes were recommended.
In this study, the first session will focus on the biblical and theological section of the report, which the General Assembly commended to the church for study and reflection. The second session will deal with the work of the task force as specified in its mandate: Christology, biblical authority and interpretation, ordination standards, and power. Because the task force discovered that their oneness in Christ was more important than their disagreements, they have invited the church to enter a season of discernment in which those who differ on issues might come together for study, prayer, and discernment, using the processes that were so helpful and meaningful to it.