The PCUSA's New Wineskins Initiative
As many mainline Christian denominations continue to stray into liberal areas of theology, there are some dedicated conservative factions within these denominations trying to stem the tide. One such group from within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is known as the . . . New Wineskins Initiative, which held a convention last week in Edina, Minnesota, that drew delegates from 85 PCUSA congregations. According to an Associated Press article today, those at the convention "endorsed platforms that laid out essential doctrines and 'ethical imperatives,' including the Bible as infallible, salvation through Jesus Christ alone, the necessity of world evangelism and rejection of gay sex and abortion."
The leaders of the New Wineskins hope that its conservative beliefs and restructuring plan will be adopted by the denomination as a whole at next year's national assembly. However, they readily admit that the possibility of a denominational split does exist.
In the article, AP religion writer Richard Ostling reports:
The Rev. David Henderson of West Lafayette, Ind., moderator of New Wineskins, sees three possibilities for the church's future:
-A thoroughly reformed denomination such as New Wineskins proposes;
-New Wineskins congregations find it necessary to leave the denomination;
-The denomination holds together, but congregations affiliate with like-minded networks within it, such as New Wineskins and liberal groups.
New Wineskins isn't schismatic, Henderson told Edina delegates, "because the schism has already happened," meaning liberals and conservatives are thoroughly divided.
The Rev. Jerry Van Marter, who covered the meeting for the church's news service, said it was "the most overt consideration of a split in the denomination that we have yet seen." Some participants are ready to leave now, he said, while others want dramatic change "but hold out very little hope for that happening."