WASHINGTON — The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI), a coalition of approximately 34,000 churches spanning various denominations and representing an estimated 15.7 million African Americans and Latinos, has “broken fellowship” with the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) after a majority vote was reached among the denomination’s regional presbyteries to redefine marriage.
As previously reported, last June, the General Assembly of PCUSA, headquarted in Louisville, Kentucky, voted 76-24 to allow licensed ministers to officiate same-sex ceremonies. Delegates within the denomination also approved a proposal to change language in the PCUSA Book of Order to redefine marriage from being a union between “a man and woman” to rather only “two persons.”
But the change was not to become official until its 172 regional presbyteries across the country voted on the matter. Earlier this month, PCUSA reached its majority vote in order to ratify the amended language, generating both applause and sadness from various groups and entities across the nation.
“Finally, the church in its constitutional documents fully recognizes that the love of gays and lesbian couples is worth celebrating in the faith community,” Brian Ellison, executive director of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, told the New York Times.
“In terms of the PCUSA’s witness to the world, this vote demonstrates a complete accommodation to the prevailing winds of our culture,” Carmen Fowler LaBerge, president of the Presbyterian Lay Committee, said in a statement. “Any prophetic voice that the denomination may have once had to speak truth and call people to repentance is now lost. All she can do now is echo the voices of the world for she has abandoned the clarion call to bear faithful witness to the God who has clearly spoken on this matter.”
Now, the Washington, D.C.-based National Black Church Initiative has announced that it is cutting ties with the organization over its stance, thus marking the end of a partnership of tens of thousands of black and Latino Americans with PCUSA. Those that belong to the initiative are not necessarily Presbyterians as the group represents over a dozen denominations.
“NBCI and its membership base are simply standing on the word of God within the mind of Christ,” President Anthony Evans said, according to Charisma News. “We urge our brothers and sisters of the PCUSA to repent and be restored to fellowship.”
“PCUSA’s manipulation represents a universal sin against the entire church and its members,” he continued. “With this action, PCUSA can no longer base its teachings on 2,000 years of Christian Scripture and tradition, and call itself a Christian entity in the body of Christ. It has forsaken its right by this single wrong act.”
Evans then pointed to Scripture as prophesying that false teachings will arise, but should be rejected.
“[The] Apostle Paul warns us about this when he declared in Galatians 1:8 that there are those who will preach another gospel: ‘For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. … For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light,'” he quoted.
“No church has the right to change the Word of God. By voting to redefine marriage PCUSA automatically forfeits Christ’s saving grace. There is always redemption in the body of Christ through confession of faith and adhering to Holy Scripture,” Evans continued. “In this case, PCUSA deliberately voted to change the Word of God and the interpretation of holy marriage between one man and one woman. This is why we must break fellowship with them and urge the entire Christendom to do so as well.”
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