Guinston Presbyterian Church voting Sunday on whether to leave PCUSA

I recently got a call from Ed Yates, a member of Guinston Presbyterian Church in Chanceford Township.

I have never been to Guinston, but the little church is not without news. Mr. Yates called me in response to the ongoing blog discussion of the church-homosexual issue.

Members enter Guinston Presbyterian Church in this 2009 file photo. PAUL KUEHNEL/York Daily Record

Guinston, which has 157 members, will vote Sunday on whether to leave the Presbyterian Church USA. A discernment team set up by the church recommended the move, so the vote is likely to be in favor.

If so, Guinston will join several other congregations who have left PCUSA in response to its May 2011 decision to lift its explicit prohibition on gay ordination.

The decision gives congregations the option to ordain partnered lay elders and deacons and gives presbyteries the option to ordain or install pastors in same-sex relationships.

Previously, church policy reserved ordination for those living either in “fidelity” within heterosexual marriage or “chastity in singleness.”

Locally, the Presbytery of Donegal oversees dozens of congregations in York, Lancaster and Chester counties (14 of them in York County) under the PCUSA umbrella.

In Guinston votes to leave, the church would join the more conservative Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Yates said. There is also a third significant branch of the Presbyterian Church: Presbyterian Church of America.

Yates said the two latter, more conservative churches are growing, while PCUSA is in decline. So I looked up the numbers.

PCUSA reported a loss of 61,047 members (−2.9%) in 2010, a loss of 63,804 in 2011 and had a membership of 1,952,287 at the end of 2011. It remains the largest Presbyterian denomination in the United States.

As of December 31, 2011, the Presbyterian Church in America had 1,771 churches and 351,406 communicant and non-communicant members.

The Evangelical Presbyterian Church has 364 congregations and 140,000 members. The church had 182 congregations in 2007 and has exactly doubled its growth in five years.

All figures were reported via Wikipedia.

About John Hilton

I grew up in Susquehanna County, Pa. and graduated Syracuse University with a dual degree in journalism/political science in 1998. After working for nearly three years for a weekly paper in upstate New York, I came to southcentral Pennsylvania. I spent 13 years as a reporter and editor for The Sentinel in Carlisle and joined the York Daily Record as religion reporter in September 2011.
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4 Responses to Guinston Presbyterian Church voting Sunday on whether to leave PCUSA

  1. Don Jones says:

    Your number for the EPC seemed very low, so I checked Wikipedia. It shows 140,000 members for that denomination.

  2. John Hilton says:

    You are correct, Don. I am not sure what group I clicked on to find those numbers, but now I am curious about it.


  3. A Seed says:

    John, I expected information on whether or not those denominations we’re growing and especially whether or not they were growing beyond the numbers coming from the PC(USA). Was it available?

  4. J Knox says:

    A person in leadership at Guinston has informed me that the congregation’s vote was unanimous to change affiliation to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

    Psalm 133:1

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