Ordination standards questions and answers

July 12, 2010


A summary of the 219th General Assembly’s action on ordination standards:

What did the Assembly do? What has changed?

The 219th General Assembly (2010) proposed a change to the PC(USA) Constitution regarding ordination standards by a vote of 373-323-4. This action does not change the Constitution. It is a first step in the process. A majority of the 173 presbyteries would have to vote in the affirmative to approve the replacement by July 2011.

What does it mean?

G-6.0106b is a provision in the PC(USA) Book of Order (Constitution) that provides the following standards for persons ordained as church leaders (deacon, elder or minister). The current version reads: “Those who are called to office in the church are to lead a life in obedience to Scripture and in conformity to the historic confessional standards of the church. Among these standards is the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman (W-4.9001), or chastity in singleness. Persons refusing to repent of any self-acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin shall not be ordained and/or installed as deacons, elders, or ministers of the Word and Sacrament.”

The 219th General Assembly (2010) recommends deleting the above provision and replacing it with the following language: “Standards for ordained service reflect the church’s desire to submit joyfully to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life (G-1.0000). The governing body responsible for ordination and/or installation (G.14.0240; G14.0450) shall examine each candidate’s calling, gifts, preparation, and suitability for the responsibilities of office. The examination shall include, but not be limited to, a determination of the candidate’s ability and commitment to fulfill all requirements as expressed in the constitutional questions for ordination and installation (W-4.4003). Governing bodies shall be guided by Scripture and the confessions in applying standards to individual candidates.”

This proposed change would focus ordination examinations on the individual calling, gifts, preparation, and suitability of candidates for the responsibilities of the office, in joyful submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all aspects of life.

What’s next?

Presbyteries will study this recommendation and vote over the course of the next year. If a majority of the 173 presbyteries approve the change, it will replace the previous provision in the Book of Order. The deadline for presbyteries to vote is July 10, 2011.

Where can I get more information?


  1. I totally agree with the comment written by "Jessica". The church is a place where should all feel welcome and loved, but also a place where we strive to become closer to God. We can love our neighbor as ourselves as Christ commanded and in that love build one another up so we do not sin, not sit around waiting until someone does. Now that it is passed, I am not pleased as punch, but I will not beat up my fellow Christians over it, I will build them up and show them there is a narrow path that they might not have seen before.

    by Michele Gaskill

    June 24, 2011

  2. As a young person, I don't beleive this is the answer to declining membership. And I think this is about more than sexuality, but a general slipping in faith that God can transform lives and that God calls us to live holy lives. I believe that those who are GBLT should be respected and loved as people. We recognize that we are all broken. But if you read the NT Jesus is not making rules more lax, but making the standard greater for his followers. We are called to be transformed in every part of our lives this includes our sexuality, as well as our pride, finances, etc. I believe fidelity- or singleness should be the standard for heterosexual and homosexuals. We should not be focused on the pleasures of this world, but be more concerned about intimacy with God. God's love is infinitely greater- and should be worth giving up any earthly pleasure.

    by Jessica

    November 24, 2010

  3. Basically, what the GA is saying is that since none of us can be sinless, we should just give up on repenting of sin.

    by Melissa Hopkins

    November 11, 2010

  4. Well well well, being a holliness man myself I believe this whole denomination is liberal enough praise the Lord brother!!

    by Billy Johnston III

    October 25, 2010

  5. I do often join any discussions but this one I must. I have only one simple comment, before you vote - before you decide - read the scriptures - I mean really - read the scriptures. The Church is supposed to change the community, not be changed BY the community. It seems many of our leaders and members have not gotten that message.

    by Kossuth M. Mitchell

    September 16, 2010

  6. If this get's past I will LEAVE the PCUSA!!! I am a newer Presbyterian, ruffly a year. I guess I will be hunting for another church, :(

    by Caleb Carter

    August 31, 2010

  7. 1.why is it felt ther is aneed for change? 2.the bible,which is the only sorce for life and life application,is already clear regarding standards for deacons and elders.3. making changes that may seem to reflect contemporary thought does not change what has been "settled in heaven".

    by john rakow

    August 15, 2010

  8. This is great! This provision has bothered me for a long time as I recognize it as a knee-jerk reaction AGAINST something that succeeds in doing nothing more than elevating one category of so-called "sin" above all others, as though this one thing is all we REALLY care about when it comes to ordination. The new language puts the focus where it should be, on the positive qualities of gifts, preparation, and suitablility for the particular office. I hope this gets passed and acts as a first step in helping us move away from such restrictive and reactionary attitudes.

    by Joyce Armentrout

    July 28, 2010

  9. I want to encourage Presbyteries to approve this recommendation, focusing on the calling and faith of each candidate rather than a limited view of "sin." If we eliminate "sinners" from our clergy roles, we would have no church leadership. Instead, what we need are persons of active faith who live Christ's example of love.

    by Audrey M. Patton

    July 26, 2010

  10. Sometimes Satan is so deceptive that he mixes the truth of God's standard with the deception in order to deceive God's people. Haven't we learned by now his methods. If God says we can live holy, then we can live holy. If God says we can live and overcome the temptations in our lives, then we can do this as well. Let every man be a liar and God be true. God gave us our sexuality and he knows we have it. It is not going to go away. Stop lieing against the Holy Spirit. Repentance, Humility, Surrender, etc. We do not need a license to sin; we know how to do that well. We can do all things in Christ that strengthens us. Do we believe in and on the words God says from God's word.

    by Johnny M. Young

    July 18, 2010

  11. Let's be open about what this recurring discussion is all about--POWER. This on-going saga is being promoted by the LGBT community, approximately 9% of the US population and likely slightly larger percentage of the "old line protestant denominations". The PC(USA) has re-visited this issue repeatedly over the last couple of generations. In that time, the number of communicant members has declined 2/3rds from 6 million to 2 million. This doesn't seem to appear on the radar screen of the GA and the significant number of attending zealots that want to "make their mark." Louisville has been cutting budgets and eliminating staff for the past 2 years. If this passes and becomes the new language for the BOO, it's "Katy- bar-the-door" to disintegration of what used to be a firm Biblical Christian voice across this great country. We 2 elders in the Presbytery of the James will be gone to seek a church that still believes the Bible is "The Word of the Lord." Sad

    by Dana Gilmour

    July 16, 2010

  12. I am thankful that our General Assembly has once again suggested removing this restriction to ordinatin in our Book of Order. I am praying and working for the passage of this by our Presbyteries. Grace and peace be with us all

    by Taylor Hill

    July 15, 2010

  13. Did we not just vote this down last year? Why keep bringing it up. It is wrong, as is the change in definition of marriage. Hate the sin, love the sinner. Do not embrace the sin! People may be born with a proclivity of attraction to the same sex, but they CHOOSE to have sex. That is the sin.

    by Peter Yurgel

    July 14, 2010

  14. How long, Oh, Lord? The GA repeatedly proposes to remove the fidelity and chastity standard from the Book of Order, and a majority of the presbyteries repeatedly defeat the proposal. When will the commissioners to the GA hear the message?

    by Chip Watkins

    July 14, 2010

  15. Why would there even be discussion on varying from the words from the Scripture?

    by Daphne H. Norfleet

    July 13, 2010

  16. This is an issue that the church is strongly divided on. God's will has not (in my opinion) manifested itself. A seven year period of rest and reflection might very well be "just the ticket" we need right now. This is what I believe.

    by Margaret W Battcher

    July 13, 2010

  17. In my opinion if G-6.0106b is deleted the governing bodies of the church will definitely not be going by what scripture says.

    by George Coombs

    July 13, 2010

  18. The last sentence under "what does this mean?" is not so subtle advocacy. Maybe you deem this appropriate, since it was indeed a G.A. action; but in light of a) the closeness of the vote at G.A. & b) that outside of G.A. a majority of Presbyterians, as indicated by the 4 previous votes in presbyteries, have strongly disagreed with this position, it would seem wise to either delete that sentence or add a sentence after it something like: 'opponents of the proposed change believe that one significant aspect of life over which Jesus is Lord includes the sexual ethic which would be deleted.'

    by Bill Hoffman

    July 13, 2010

  19. Yeah, high time we focused on gifts for ministry rather than looking for additional ways to exclude persons whose sexual orientation may be different from the norm! Thanks for the Assemblies wisdom.

    by Rev. Dr. Dan Festa

    July 13, 2010

  20. You have got to be kidding?! Are we going down the same path as the Episcopals and Lutherans? What happened to Bible driven and Reformed theology? It is this kind of loose drivel that waters down and erodes our foundations. No wonder the world doesn't take Christians seriously.

    by Doreen DesJardins

    July 12, 2010

  21. Yeah for our GA...it is about time we focused on ALL aspects of a person's life, not just sexuality...joined the 21st century and gave ALL persons their basic human rights...who knows? Maybe more young people will consider joining our church!

    by Rev. Deborah Haffner Hubbard

    July 12, 2010

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