D P Biakkhuma, a church elder and secretary of the SEC, told TOI on Monday that the two Presbyterian churches have maintained cordial relations for more than a decade, but the Mizoram chapter was compelled to sever ties due to differences on one basic doctrine. "We, the members of Presbyterian Church of Mizoram, cannot accept ordination of homosexual people as pastors and regard homosexuality as against the teachings of the Bible and Christianity," he said. He added that the priest and other church employees posted in New Delhi to maintain links with the US chapter would be withdrawn forthwith.
Rev H Remthanga, former moderator (head) of the Mizoram Presbyterian Church Synod and the first pastor appointed by the SEC to coordinate with the Presbyterian Church of the USA, said there communication has never been a problem between the two chapters. "Except for the Presbyterian Church of the USA, joining liberal concepts of other denominations in the West, agreeing to ordain gay priests, we maintained a cordial relationship," Rev. Remthanga, who was posted in New Delhi to coordinate with the USA counterpart since 2001, said.
Meanwhile, the SEC also issued a creed that homosexual relationship is against Christianity and the beliefs of the church as also having sex before marriage and extramarital sex. Amending the creed on punishment for homosexuality, the church, now excommunicates people with the same sex living together as long as they live together. Earlier, the suspension of the members who live in such kind of sin used to be for three years. The SEC also clarified that sex, in accordance with the will of God and the teachings of Christianity, must only be between man and woman after marriage. "It is against nature and God's will that people of the same sex should indulge in sexual intercourse before marriage or outside marriage," the SEC minutes said.
"The Presbyterian Church (USA) openly ordains homosexual ministers and officiates same-sex weddings. We are in disagreement over such decisions that have serious practical ramifications. We hence have decided to end our partnership with them," said Rev Malsawmtluanga, a member of the Mizoram Synod Executive Committee.
The Mizoram Synod began its partnership with the USA church - the leading Protestant Christian denomination with over 2.3 million members - in 1999. The Presbyterian Church of the USA is the latest of several denominations after the United Church of Christ, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and The Episcopal Church, to drop the ban on gay clergy.