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IRD Committee Asks PCUSA Stated Clerk Not to Run Again

"Nearing the end of Clifton Kirkpatrick's third term, we are a weaker, smaller, less unified, and more destabilized denomination." -- James D. Berkley, IRD's Presbyterian Action Director


Contact: Loralei Coyle 202-682-4131, 202-905-6852 cell, lcoyle@ird-renew.org; Radio Interviews: Jeff Walton, jwalton@ird-renew.org; both with the Institute on Religion and Democracy

WASHINGTON, Mar. 12 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), under Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick, has seen a steady decline in membership. Kirkpatrick, an affable man, has failed to show true leadership that would strengthen, expand, unify, and stabilize the PCUSA. Now, in an interview with the denominational news service, he is hinting at a run for a fourth four-year term. He claims that the PCUSA "is in a potential tipping point of renewed growth and vitality." The Steering Committee of the IRD's Presbyterian Action program has asked Kirkpatrick to "decline nomination for a fourth term in 2008, for the good of the denomination."

The Presbyterian Action Steering Committee stated:

"The disheartening state of our Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) indicates the need for leadership change in the position of Stated Clerk of the General Assembly…. Sadly, we have lost confident in Clifton Kirkpatrick's ability to lead our denomination out of the demoralizing state of disorganization, decline, and even disintegration into which it has fallen…. We look forward to new leadership stepping in to help direct our denomination toward theological clarity, spiritual vitality, Spirit-led growth, and effective ministry."

James D. Berkley, IRD's Presbyterian Action Director, commented:

"We almost never endorse candidates for office, nor do we campaign against individuals, but someone has to start the conversation about the need for dramatic change in the PCUSA. We cannot abide the disorder and losses we now face.

"The PCUSA is struggling to avoid becoming entirely unhinged. What in our history, our statistics, or our daily news of troublesome events causes Kirkpatrick to prophesy 'renewed growth and vitality'? Nearing the end of his third term, we are a weaker, smaller, less unified, and more destabilized denomination.

"Kirkpatrick has waffled on matters of theology and morality, and intimidated on matters of property and money. Kirkpatrick has allowed the Open Meeting Policy to be circumvented repeatedly under his command. Worst of all is the incessant membership loss that, of late, is accelerating. For whatever reasons, over the last eleven years, Clifton Kirkpatrick has led the PCUSA down the slippery slope of decline."

The Institute on Religion and Democracy, founded in 1981, is an ecumenical alliance of U.S. Christians working to reform their churches' social witness, in accord with biblical and historic Christian teachings, thereby contributing to the renewal of democratic society at home and abroad.