PORTLAND, Ore. (RNS) Jan Edmiston and Denise Anderson have been elected co-moderators of the 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. The 1.6 million-member denomination’s top governing body will have two leaders for the first time, and they’ll both be women.
The protestant denomination, also known as the PCUSA, plans to divest completely from male leadership over the next century. A vast majority of the the U.S. church’s 171 regional bodies, known as presbyteries, voted to begin removing men from all local, regional and national leadership positions immediately.
“We’ve been invested in the religious-patriarchal-industrial complex for way too long,” Rev. Anderson told The Literalist. “We will slowly wean ourselves off men in power and plan to be all-female led by the 272nd General Assembly in 2116.”
“We believe this is an important, symbolic yet real step forward,” Rev. Edmiston added. “And we’re just getting starting with divestment. At the next General Assembly, we will discuss boycotting and sanctioning patriarchy.”
A group of 18 prominent churches with male senior pastors were in the process of forming a breakaway denomination that will be closely aligned with the breakaway denomination of PCUSA churches that left the denomination in recent years after it began allowing same-sex marriages.
Both the pro-patriarchy presbyterians and anti-LGBTQ presbyterians also plan to conduct joint mission trips with the Presbyterian Church in America, the pro-virgin birth breakaway denomination.
For the churches that remain a part of the mother denomination, the General Assembly continues to meet this week. The PCUSA will also consider adding fossil fuels to their divestments.