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Presbyterian Church in America upholds more traditional views

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Feb. 10, 2012 at midnight
Updated Feb. 9, 2012 at 8:10 p.m.

Christ  Presbyterian Church

The Presbyterian Church in America, or PCA, is the second-largest Presbyterian denomination in the United States.

With about 1,500 churches and 350,000 members, the presence of the denomination is growing nationwide.

Still, the PCA remains a fraction of the size of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the third-largest mainline Protestant denomination in the United States.

The PCA formed in 1973 after conservative pastors and elders began separating from the Presbyterian Church in the United States. At the time, Presbyterians started to disagree over biblical standards and social issues involving the church.

About 10 years after the PCA formed its own organization, a merger occurred between the Presbyterian Church in the United States and the United Presbyterian Church in the United States, which formed the PC (USA) in 1983.

The Rev. Mike Singenstreu, of Christ Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Victoria, said before the PCA broke from the mainline Presbyterian group, members of the denomination attempted to work within the organization.

"Since the early '20s, the mainline Presbyterian church had been moving away from standing on scripture alone, and the basic foundation of the scriptures (such as) the miracles of Christ and divinity of Christ," Singenstreu said. "It took about 40 years trying to work within the organization before that break ever happened."

One of the smaller issues the church faced at the time, Singenstreu said, was the allowance of female ordination. Today, the PCA continues to uphold a more traditional view of male-only clergy.

In recent years, the PC(USA) has supported the ordination of practicing homosexuals and the election of practicing homosexuals as elders in church.

PCA churches, however, do not support the lifestyle of homosexuality and would not, therefore, elect a practicing homosexual to hold office in the church.

Singenstreu said the PCA church welcomes homosexuals to attend church, and view the gay lifestyle as no greater or lesser sin than alcoholism or drug addiction.

The two Presbyterian denominations also disagree on the issue of abortion. PCA churches maintain a strong pro-life stance, supporting the sanctity of human life at conception. The PC(USA) church has taken an opposing position, supporting the woman's right to choose to terminate a pregnancy.

The PCA is considered reformed evangelical, and clings tightly to pure Calvinist theology and the Westminster Confessions of Faith.

PCA church headquarters are located in Lawrenceville, Ga.

Where they differ

Presbyterian Church (USA)

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