As reported yesterday, the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico (INPM) has voted to end its 139-year-old relationship with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) because of the PC(USA)’s ordination standards, which were amended this year to allow the ordination of sexually active gays and lesbians.
In response to the INPM’s decision, the PC(USA)’s World Mission ministry area has released the following statement:
On Monday evening (Aug. 22), Presbyterian World Mission leaders received a communiqué from leaders of the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico (INPM) officially documenting the decision of the Mexican church to sever the historic 139 year relationship between INPM and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
The decision occurred on Friday, August 19, in response to PC(USA) actions on Amendment 10-A regarding ordination standards. Hunter Farrell, director of Presbyterian World Mission, voiced his sadness in response to the decision, “We have had initial conversations with Mexican church leaders since the decision, and together we shared a hope for healing and a renewed ability to engage God’s mission together, but at this moment, this is not possible and it brings me great sadness.” He continued, “We have a deep respect for the voice of international partners, because partnership is at the core of our understanding of Christ’s mission around the world, so we have listened very carefully to the Mexican church leaders.”
World Mission has eleven mission co-workers deployed in Mexico and the U.S.-Mexico border region. In addition, eighteen presbyteries and three synods have partnership efforts in Mexico. The Presbyterian Border Ministry has been a joint effort of the PC(USA) and the INPM, involving nine U.S. presbyteries serving in coordinated ministry across six sites. Many presbyteries are also involved in Mexico through the Living Waters for the World project. Numerous congregations have also been involved in partnerships and exchanges with INPM congregations.
As a result of the INPM decision, according to Farrell, World Mission cannot continue its participation in these ministries in their current form. “Our ministries have been built on the foundation of a joint partnership between our two churches,” said Maria Arroyo, area coordinator for PC(USA) work in Latin America and the Caribbean, “and without that foundation we have immediately begun to re-assess each of our ministries.” World Mission will be working with mission co-workers individually to determine next steps and possible alternative deployments.
“The staff of World Mission are aware that many Presbyterians have planned future short-term mission trips in partnership with Mexican presbyteries or congregations, but, at this point, because of the decision of the INPM,” Farrell said, “we are unable to encourage these visits.”
“However,” Farrell added, “ in this time of rising poverty, heightened violence, and a deep need for the gospel of Jesus Christ in both countries, God's call to us to be engaged in mission in Mexico and the U.S.-Mexican borderlands continues and we will be discerning how to do that.” Support continues to be needed for the mission co-workers and future PC(USA) work in the region during this time of transition.
“Over the past few days,” Farrell said, “the hearts of many of our mission workers have been breaking over this decision. We have many close brothers and sisters in Christ in the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico. The words of Psalm 133, ‘How good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters dwell in unity…’ which have often been celebrated in our common life, are painful now in the absence of unity, but we dare to hope together for the day, when as Jesus prayed, we might be one.”
World Mission is offering a webinar for more information on its Mexico response at a webinar scheduled for September 1 (10:15 am – 11:30 am Eastern Time). Visit the PC(USA)'s Mexico website for more information.