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Presbyterians Pick Louisville As Host City

June 16, 1987

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) _ Presbyterians voted today to consolidate their offices in Louisville, Ky., turning aside two committee recommendations that the denomination move to Kansas City, Mo.

The 199th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted 332-309 to move about 900 employees from New York and Atlanta to Louisville.

The church, the nation’s largest Presbyterian denomination, will maintain some offices in New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Montreat, N.C.

The debate over the headquarters location has been one of the most visible topics of the church’s nine-day meeting here, with multi-media presentations to the commissioners and committee hearings.

Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson addressed the assembly today, and proponents spent the days prior to the decision passing out ″Louisville Slugger″ baseball bats and inviting people to a hospitality suite.

A committee spent three years before deciding that Kansas City was the best choice. That committee’s recommendation was affirmed by a panel in Biloxi, but the assembly adopted a minority report that Louisville be chosen.

Later today, the assembly was scheduled to discuss Christian-Jewish and Christian-Moslem relatons. Also scheduled were decisions on reassessing the church’s refusal to ordain admitted, practicing homosexuals.

On Monday, the General Assembly of the 3 million-member denomination adopted a committee report calling for the United States and Soviet Union to negotiate a treaty banning development and use of chemical weapons.

Another resolution, adopted 307-264, calls for an ecumenical conference, probably in late 1988 or early 1989, to promote ″dialogue among the varying and diverging Christian perspectives on the abortion issue.″

″That’s a small step in the right direction,″ said the Rev. Bart Tarman, of Santa Barbara, Calif., vice president of Presbyterians Pro-Life, a church- sanctioned organization.

The abortion decision came at the end of a 14-hour session, during which the assembly’s 650 commissioners also debated a paper on peacemaking and reversed a 25-year-old decision defrocking a peace activist.

Tarman said anti-abortionists within the denomination have gained strength since 1983 when it adopted a statement that abortion is a decision between a woman and her physician. Later modifications have condemned abortion as a method of birth control and urged women to seek other ways to deal with unwanted pregnancies.

Also Monday, the commissioners discussed ″Presbyterians and Peacemaking: Are We Now Called to Resistance?″

The document, which makes no recommendations, includes discussion on how Presbyterians mightwork for peace, sections on tax resistance and civil disobedience.

Several local Presbyterian groups, complaining that the paper is one-sided and divisive, have asked that the paper be withdrawn or the study process broadened to include other viewpoints.

A committee refused to adopt those recommendations, saying the process was still going on and those views could be part of a final position paper already scheduled for discussion next year.

A resolution was adopted calling on the church ″to utilize its churchwide network″ to work for the release of Lebanon hostages Terry Anderson and Thomas Sutherland.

The action was included at the request of the Rev. Benjamin Weir, a former hostage, who is stepping down after a one-year term as moderator, or chief spokesman of the denomination.

Of eight American hostages remaining in Lebanon, Anderson, the Middle East bureau chief of The Associated Press, and Sutherland, dean of agriculture at American University in Beirut and a Presbyterian elder, are the only hostages who were held with Weir.

The assembly on Monday night voted unanimously to restore the Rev. Maurice McCrackin, an 81-year-old Cincinnati pastor, to the ministry.

McCrackin was defrocked in 1962 by the then-United Presbyterian Church (USA) because of his repeated refusal to pay federal income taxes that support the military.

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