The Office of Theology and Worship is charged with working on theological issues in all aspects of life: from reflection on the confessions, to exploring the connections between the Triune God and everyday life, to dealing with the theological and ethical implications of science.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), in recent decisions on ordination and same-gender marriage, is attempting to map a challenging way forward. We have decided not to declare as a denomination whether same-gender sexual relationships are to be regarded as faithful and holy. We have set ourselves on this way twice: regarding ordination and regarding marriage. This means our denomination grants the legitimacy and Christian faithfulness of directly opposing views of what Jesus Christ calls us to in one of the basic elements of human life. This paper explores our challenging way, looking closely at the specific actions we have taken on ordination standards and defining marriage, and reflecting on why to embrace this challenging way. Continue reading
At our 2012 General Assembly in Pittsburgh we found ourselves facing a basic question: what is the relationship between our confession of faith and our polity? This is not a new question. We have faced this question repeatedly, since the early days of Presbyterians in the United States. Barry Ensign-George and Charles Wiley reflect on this important question in "Constituting Us: Confessions and Polity in the PC(USA).
Selected Theological Statements of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
General Assemblies (1956–1998)
This searchable online database includes the most important General Assembly statements issued by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and its predecessor denominations guide the church in its life and ministry. Selected Theological Statements includes 32 significant texts that span a time frame from 1956 and "The Position of Women in the Church" through 1998 and "Just Peacemaking."
The comprehensive witness of the Book of Confessions is sufficient to lead, instruct, and guide the church. From time to time, however, questions arise in the church that call for careful articulation of a particular aspect of Christian faith, drawing upon the testimony of the confessions in a way that illuminates the unique and authoritative witness of the Scriptures. Such occasions do not require a new confession, but rather a faithful expression of the consistent teaching of Scripture and the confessions. In this way, we may be helped to reappropriate central affirmations of the faith and to renew our faithful witness in the world.
Papers, Essays, and Statements
Posted reflections, papers, essays, and other items of theological interest.
Issues that challenged the confessions’ framers, from which we can listen and learn the ways they understood, and responded to crises.
Science and Faith Issues
To address developments in science and technology, and how they relate to our faith, the Office of Theology and Worship offers the following essays and statements.
Church Issues Series
The Church and Its Unity – Church Issues Series #1
Committed Conversation, by Joseph D. Small – Church Issues Series #2
Biblical Authority For The Life of the Church – Church Issues Series #3
The Crucified One Is Lord – Church Issues Series #4
Bearing with One Another – Church Issues Series #5
Ordinary and Extraordinary Discipline – Church Issues Series #6
Christians and Jews, People of God – Church Issues Series #7
The Office of Theology and Worship is pleased to periodically offer essays concerning reformed theology and worship.
Disciplines of Readiness, by Walter Brueggeman – Occasional Paper #1
Beyond Beginnings, by Jack Stotts – Occasional Paper #2
Between Confessions, by William C. Placher – Occasional Paper #3
An Awkward Church, by Douglas John Hall– Occasional Paper #5
Praying in Common, by Cynthia M. Campbell and J. Fredrick Holper– Occasional Paper #6
Renewing the Ecumenical Vision, by Lewis S. Mudge – Occasional Paper #7
Catholic and Reformed, by John A. Radano – Occasional Paper #8
Being Reformed, by Milan Opocensky - Occasional Paper #9
Essential Tenets of Reformed Worship, by Stanley R. Hall - Occasional Paper #10
Spirit’s Gifts, God’s Reign, by Yohan Hyun and Frank Macchia - Occasional Paper #11
Are Children Human, by Barbara Pitkin - Occasional Paper #12
The Shape of Pastoral Ministry, by Joseph A. Sittler and Richard R. Osmer - Occasional Paper #13
Social Witness in Generous Orthodoxy, by George Hunsinger - Occasional Paper #14
Growing Up Theologically, by Leanne Van Dyk - Occasional Paper #15
A Church of the Word and Sacrament, by Joseph D. Small - Occasional Paper #16
Theology in the Life of the Congregation, by Edward Farley - Occasional Paper #17
Mission From The Margins, by Philip L. Wickeri - Occasional Paper #18
Calvin, Ecumenism and Justice, by Jane Dempsey Douglass and Margit Ernst-Habib - Occasional Paper #19
Pia Conspiratio, by Lukas Vischer - Occasional Paper #20
Rich Before We Were Born, by Lukas Vischer - Occasional Paper #21
General Assembly Actions and Related Reports
" ... commended for use by sessions and congregations for study of the Authoritative Interpretation of 1993, commending it to congregations as the historic policy of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)."
A study guide for Policy Statements and Recommendations from the 1978 report, “The Church and Homosexuality”
This study guide, prepared by the Office of Theology and Worship, is written at the request of the 217th General Assembly, Item 04-05.
The Work of the Holy Spirit
Report of the Special Committee on the Work of the Holy Spirit to the 182nd General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America
A Proposal for Considering the Theology and Practice of Ordination in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) - Study guide
The 1992 General Assembly commended for church-wide study a report entitled “A Proposal for Considering the Theology and Practice of Ordination in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).” The report emphasizes the ministry of the whole people of God, and, for the first time in the denomination’s history, explores all three offices (minister, elder, and deacon) in relation to this common ministry.
The study guide has been prepared to assist congregations and presbyteries in organizing groups to engage in careful reading and discussion of the report.
Inclusive Language issues
Response to Inclusive Language
Report and recommendations in response to referral on Inclusive language as recommended during the 196th General Assembly (1984). The Advisory Council on Discipleship and Worship and the Council on Theology and Culture were equested to develop and provide for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) a "working definition" of what is meant by the term "inclusive language" in a clear and concise manner. (Minutes, 1984, Part I, page 86.)
A Report to the Church on Issues of Language and Gender
The Office of Theology and Worship and Research Services were directed to conduct research to assess the current status of the church on inclusive language policy at all levels. This report covers definitions and guidelines on inclusive language" adopted by the 197th General Assembly (1985).
Hope in the Lord Jesus Christ
The 214th General Assembly (2002) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted (497-11-5) to affirm "Hope in the Lord Jesus Christ," commend it to the church, and urge its study throughout the church.
The Trinity of Theology and Worship
A presentation given by Aurelia T. Fule at the "Sisters In Santa Fe" conference, September 21-24, 2000. The conference was sponsored by the National Association of Presbyterian Clergywomen and the Women*s Ministries Program Area, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).