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Ecumenical Relations

Correspondence and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

 

In seeking the unity of the Church, the General Assembly may authorize and direct that covenants, agreements, and statements of purpose and intent be developed with other Christian bodies. To this end, the General Assembly, through the office of the General Assembly, shall maintain a relationship of correspondence with the highest council of governing body:

  1. of those churches with which it has had historical relations outside the United States, as recognized by the General Assembly
  2. of those churches that are members of the ecumenical bodies which the PCUSA holds membership
  3. of those churches with which the PCUSA has formal ecumenical dialogue approved by the General Assembly (G-5.02)

In the past, these relationships were important when congregations called a minister of another denomination. However, it is no longer necessary that the minister be a member of a denomination that is in correspondence with the PCUSA. Ministers of other denominations must meet the constitutional requirements for ordination as set forth in the Book of Order at G-2.0607 (see also G-2.0610). For information on the Formula of Agreement or other capacities in which a minister of another denomination may serve the PCUSA, please see this Advisory Opinion (PDF).

Relationships of correspondence remain important to the life of the Presbyterian Church (USA). These close relationships result in furthering the visible unity of the church and many individuals feel as though the PCUSA is their church because of historical ties.

The PCUSA maintains membership in the following ecumenical bodies: The World Council of Churches, The World Communion of Reformed Churches, Christian Churches Together, and the National Council of Churches. The PCUSA is in correspondence with those churches that also hold membership with these bodies.

While membership in ecumenical bodies change, this website will be updated twice yearly. For the most accurate information, please contact the office of Ecumenical Relations at Melissa.davis@pcusa.org or 502-569-5037.

When calling a minister from another denomination, many theological and pastoral questions should be explored before extending a call. While relationships of correspondence mean that the PC(USA) recognizes these churches and their denomination, there is a wide range of issues that may be implicated in ministry, such as the ordination of woman as elders and deacons and the baptism of infants.  For more information on how to approach these conversations, please contact the office of Ecumenical Issues at robina.winbush@pcusa.org or 502-569-5431.

To learn more about formal ecumenical dialogue in which the PCUSA is involved, visit “Ecumenical Partners.”

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