Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include Memorial Presbyterian Church’s statement concerning The Chapel.
Should a PCA church host a “short-play festival and celebration of transgender, agender, non-binary, genderqueer, and genderfluid artists”?
That may sound like an esoteric question, but this is apparently exactly what Memorial Presbyterian Church did this past week. Memorial Presbyterian Church, a PCA church in St. Louis, made news in 2018 when it hosted the controversial Revoice conference. The church’s pastor, Greg Johnson, spoke at Revoice in 2019 and is slated to speak again in 2020.
According to the event announcement accessed on Thursday, the Q Collective, which is an LGBT group “exploring the spectrum of gender, sexuality, and romantic orientation,” hosted its 2nd annual Transluminate Arts Festival at The Chapel of Memorial Presbyterian Church on consecutive nights, February 27 – March 1.
The mission of The Chapel, which is a venue space owned and operated by Memorial Presbyterian Church, is “to provide a beautiful setting free of charge for local artists to share their creative genius with the city of Saint Louis, and for members of Memorial Presbyterian Church to invest in the current generation of artists in our city.” Also according to its website, The Chapel provides venue space free of charge and is staffed by Memorial Presbyterian Church volunteers.
Details from the Transluminate event announcement describe performances that include themes of gay marriage, transgenderism, and even trans-speciesism. The announcement also included the following content warning: “Plays may contain adult language and frank sexual situations.”
This celebration would seem to be at odds with the confessional standards of the PCA. Question 139 of the Westminster Larger Catechism, for example, says this:
The sins forbidden in the seventh commandment, besides the neglect of the duties required, (Prov. 5:7) are, adultery, fornication, (Heb. 13:4, Gal. 5:19) rape, incest, (2 Sam. 13:14, 1 Cor. 5:1) sodomy, and all unnatural lusts; (Rom. 1:24,26–27, Lev. 20:15–16) all unclean imaginations, thoughts, purposes, and affections; (Matt. 5:28, Matt. 15:19, Col. 3:5) all corrupt or filthy communications, or listening thereunto; (Eph. 5:3–4, Prov. 7:5,21–22)…1
How can a PCA church host an event that contradicts its own confessional standards? How can this church allow a celebration of the very sin that scripture binds them to oppose?
Last summer, the controversy over Revoice led to the PCA General Assembly voting to approve a study committee on sexuality. The General Assembly also affirmed The Nashville Statement as a “biblically faithful declaration,” a measure that the pastor of Memorial Presbyterian rose to oppose during a lengthy floor debate.
How will the Missouri Presbytery and the PCA General Assembly respond to “Transluminate” being hosted by the same church that hosted Revoice? That answer remains to be seen.
UPDATE: Late Thursday, Memorial Presbyterian Church released a statement regarding the Transluminate event at their venue, The Chapel, which can be accessed here.
On Friday Zach Groff, lecturer in Old Testament Hebrew at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, published this response to Memorial Presbyterian’s statement at the site Reformation21.
1 The Westminster Larger Catechism: With Scripture Proofs. (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1996).
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