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The historical development of Presbyterian ordination polity as background to the gay and lesbian ordination debate in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Roché F. Vermaak

Verbum et Ecclesia; Vol 31, No 1 (2010), 5 pages. doi: 10.4102/ve.v31i1.50

Submitted: 09 July 2009
Published:  23 September 2010


The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. and the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. united in 1983 to form the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Since 1978, these three denominations have been involved in an ongoing debate regarding same-gender relationships. Subsequently, General Assemblies and General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commissions (GAPJC) – the highest denominational court – have formed a polity regarding the election and ordination and/or installation of gays and lesbians as officers, i.e. deacons, elders, and ministers of the Word and Sacrament, as well as same-gender blessings and marriages. This first of three papers will focus on the historical development of Presbyterian ordination polity with emphasis on specific markers such as the Adopting Act of 1729 with its emphasis on scrupling and essentials, the five fundamentals of 1910 and the Special Commission of 1925 regarding subscription, G-6.0106b Book of Order, and relevant GAPJC rulings.

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Author affiliations

Roché F. Vermaak, , United States


Adopting Act of 1729; ‘five points or fundamentals’ of 1910; gay and lesbian; General Assembly; General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission; ordination and/or installation; Presbyterian Church; Special Commission of 1925


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