Mexican Presbyterian Church votes to end 139-year-old relationship with PC(USA)

August 23, 2011


The National Presbyterian Church of Mexico (INPM) has voted to end its 139-year partnership in mission with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), in response to the PC(USA)’s decision earlier this year to allow the ordination of sexually active gays and lesbians.

That decision to sever the relationship came on a 116 to 22 vote of the Mexican church assembly on Aug. 19. It likely will jeopardize the continuation of the work that 11 PC(USA) mission co-workers have been doing in Mexico ―including significant work along the U.S.-Mexican border ― as well as the future of short-term congregational mission trips to Mexico and more than two-dozen partnerships that PC(USA) presbyteries and synods have established in Mexico.

The Mexican church, with close to two million members, held a special assembly Aug. 17-19 specifically to discuss the ordination of women ― voting overwhelmingly, by a margin of 158 to 14, to sustain its policy of not ordaining women.

The assembly also voted 103 to 55 not to allow any sort of grace period for presbyteries that had, on their own, already begun ordaining women. That vote means that any presbytery which has already ordained women must immediately revoke those ordinations.

Before the assembly began, however, there were rumblings of dissatisfaction with the PC(USA) and its decision earlier this year to approve Amendment 10-A, which removed from the denomination’s Book of Order a requirement that those being ordained practice fidelity if they are married or chastity if they are single.

Presbyteries and sessions now will examine candidates for ordination or installation, with the standard being that a candidate’s “manner of life should be a demonstration of the Christian gospel in the church and in the world.” The new language also states that “governing bodies shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates.”

On Aug. 16, several representatives of the PC(USA) ― including Gradye Parsons, the denomination’s stated clerk, and Hunter Farrell, director of World Mission ― went to Mexico to meet with 11 leaders of the Mexican church and to discuss the Mexicans’ unhappiness and theological disagreement with the decision on 10-A.

“The discussion was frank and honest,” Farrell wrote in an e-mail following that meeting. “The disappointment of the Mexican church was expressed.”

The PC(USA) representatives asked their Mexican partners to agree to a time of discernment, in part to see how they could continue to work together in mission despite differing views over issues such as ordaining gays and lesbians, or women’s ordination.

“Despite the significant theological differences that 10-A puts between our churches, the mission context of increasing violence on our borders, the precarious situation of the poor in both nations, and our own church’s need for the INPM’s help in sharing the Gospel with Spanish-speakers in the U.S. cries out for prayerful strategizing and increased mission collaboration,” Farrell wrote after that meeting. “The truth is we need each other now more than ever.”

The PC(USA) representatives were hopeful that the Mexican Presbyterians might give the relationship more time ―but that was not to be. The Mexican delegates also voted not to re-establish any relationship with the PC(USA) until 10-A is rescinded.

“I deeply regret their decision to end a relationship that has brought blessings to both churches,” Parsons said in a statement following the vote.

“Presbyterians do mission in partnership here and around the world, so we take the voice of the Mexican church very seriously,” Farrell said in a statement. “We are grieved by their decision, but we want to emphasize that we are grateful for their witness and our history together, and will listen carefully as we engage in dialogue about where God is leading us in mission.”

  1. I was never aware of this news until today. I don't remember hearing this news in any announcements at my church or in any news releases from my presbytery. I am somewhat shocked and glad to know of the independence of the Mexican Church and their effort to retain Biblical standards.

    by Harry Hogan

    September 22, 2013

  2. The PCUSA has long been apostate. What saddens me is that it took the INPM so long to realize this. There are plenty of orthodox/historical Presbyterian denominations in the US that Mexico could carry on fraternal relations. The INPM is large, much larger than most US/Canadian Presbyterian denominations.

    by Greg Boyd

    September 28, 2012

  3. My compliments to the author(s) of the May 2011 letter to congregations of the PCUSA. I thought it was an extremely well written letter using clear, simple language to explain the Amendment and it's implications for the church and it's Presbyteries and congregations expressing hope for discussion and in the process reconciliation.

    by Norma A Fritsche

    September 11, 2011

  4. I feel the same grief over this loss. As history usually goes, the people who are suffering the most here are not the ones who are making the theological and interpretive decisions.

    by Amy Pospichal

    September 1, 2011

  5. Although Amendment 10-A was adopted by the PC(USA), the denomination is deeply divided over this issue, and many past and present missionaries of the PC(USA) believe that the Presbyterian Church of Mexico is correct in its ordination standards on this issue and that the PC(USA) is in error. though they may believe differently relating to the ordination of women. Would it be possible to continue to support, on a case by case basis, those missionaries who have been working in partnership with the Mexican Presbyterian Church who affirm the standards of the Mexican Presbyterian Church on standards of sexual behavior? Could this not be acceptable to both churches? This same issue is likely to come up with more of our partner churches internationally. It would be good to have a way to continue support of our missionaries, especially since many of them (us) believe that the PC(USA) is in grave error and agree with our international partners. The question of short term mission groups is more difficult. There are many churches within the PC(USA) who have made statements affirming the necessity for faithfulness withing a marriage between one man and one woman or chastity in singleness, and groups from these churches may be acceptable to our international partner churches, but many short term missions draw from multiple churches, making the matter more difficult. I think we would need to follow the national church's lead on this. In Christ's service, Patty June former PC(USA) missionary to Bangladesh

    by Patty June

    August 31, 2011

  6. Good for them!

    by Carl Adams

    August 29, 2011

  7. Can the PCUSA's African partners be far behind their Mexican brethren? Many Anglican churches in Africa broke their relationships with the Episcopalian Church over this matter. I sense the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico's decision may encourage others to do the same.

    by Thomas Johnson

    August 26, 2011

  8. Praise God for the National Presbyterian Chruch Of Mexico! It is a blessing to see how they have remained true to Scripture. I wonder if it is possible to join this denomination while living in the United States. I see my own denomination determined to follow the PC (USA) down the same sinful path.

    by Jerry

    August 25, 2011

  9. I truly regret this breaking of relations between the INPM and the PCUSA but am not surprised since I know very well the church in Mexico and even though they respected our differences as far as women's ordination is concerned they feel that this latest PCUSA decision cannot be tolerated as an issue of Christian faith and practice. I have many dear friends in mission service with the church in Mexico and pray that the Lord will lead them as to what to do at this difficult moment of their lives and ministry!! I also pray for the many people who are affected by this decision because of the ceasing of very needy ministries to the total needs of people in the USA and Mexico!!

    by Rev. Eriberto (Eddie) Soto

    August 25, 2011

  10. This is sad to hear......However, as they have chosen not to ordain women, they obvioulsy need a lot of prayer to be guided to love and accept all as we have in the PC(USA). To end a parternship over not fully accepting all of gods children scares me, and shows deep concern for how we must work harder, and pray harder for other denominations and churches to see the true gifts god has granted each and every one of his children. We were all born and molded just has he had in mind. Its not a mistake, its not a sin, its a gift. God has spoken, and we have listened. Thanks be to god for the movement we have made in our church. So many christians from other churches have told me they are so proud of our church to accept all; as God has.....isnt that in the bible too?

    by Aaron

    August 24, 2011

  11. I was shocked and saddened by this latest turn of events. I have been blessed for many years by our church's mission trips to Bacalar mexico. It has been a blessing to work side by side with our brothers and sisters of our Sister Church in Bacalar. I am also an Ambassador for Living Waters for the World mission. Our LWW teams have been working for several years with water systems and relationship building. This announcement has raised some concern about those blessings and relationships. I and others will pray for this situation

    by Ken Allen

    August 24, 2011

  12. I am a missionary kid, and glad to see someone stand up to the US. We are not reading and understanding the scripture, but have watered it down to suit the feelings of a few, tickling our ears in the US. Just as an alcoholic or drug addict is not in spiritual shape to lead a congregation, nor is a homosexual. They should definitely be IN the church! I'm not saying that, but they should NOT be in a position of leadership, as described in Timothy. jwp

    by julia pollock

    August 24, 2011

  13. When the PC(USA) moves away from the historic understanding proclaimed by the one, holy, apostolic and catholic Church; what do we expect to see but faithfulness on their part and their need to disavow the actions of the PC(USA). It is unfortunate the news comes from an independent organization (Presbyterian Outlook) rather than from a report by the Stated Clerk of the PC(USA) who traveled to Mexico. I would like to hear his "spin" on the end of our partnership as well as from the General Assembly Mission Council.

    by Thomas L. Fultz

    August 23, 2011

  14. I'm very sad to see this happen. When I was in the Reformed Church, I got to know several of the RCA missionaries who served in Chiapas, Mexico, in partnership with the Nat'l Presby. Church there. I fear that more churches in other countries will decide to end their relationship with us, which will put PCUSA missionaries in a very difficult bind & hurt the cause of Christ there. Hopefully, I'll be wrong about this.

    by Randy Schreurs

    August 23, 2011

  15. I feel grieves also by the desicion of my church. I´m a member of INPM and a worker of Presbyterian Border Ministry for 8 years full time mexican coordinator of Proyecto Amistad and before that 3 years of volunteer worker on Laredos Unidos. so I now about IPM very well, and I now the realtion is not on books, it´s not on agreement on upers levels of our denominatiion the relation is on the field, is on faces and smiles, on hugs and hands working together to healing our nation of sin and to grow together as children of the same God. I feel so SAD because they don´t understand how deep is our ralation and how they affect both country churches with this desicion was taked with the stomac and not with the love of God. God bless all of your and you be welcome to my home, Mexico becuase you are my brothers and sisters from the same father. "Dios te Bendiga" Roberto Medina Solis (former) mexican Coordinator of Proyecto Amistad

    by Roberto Medina SOlis

    August 23, 2011

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