A Needful Departure
Greg Johnson and Memorial Presbyterian have left the PCA
It’s official. Greg Johnson and his congregation have voted to leave the Presbyterian Church in America. It’s a sad departure, especially for a church that has been affiliated with the PCA since 1980. Arguably, however, it’s not only a sad departure. It’s a needful one.
The historic Memorial Presbyterian Church, located in St. Louis, MO, is departing the PCA under an ominous cloud of ecclesiastical controversy. The last four years have been plagued with serious concerns, objections, and complaints over Johnson and Memorial PCA’s theological views and ministries. As a result, admonishment and scrutiny have come from within the PCA, as well as the wider Reformed and Evangelical community. The following are some reasons why:
In 2018 Memorial PCA hosted Revoice, a conference ministry dedicated to “supporting, encouraging, and empowering gay, lesbian, same-sex-attracted, and other LGBT Christians so they can flourish while observing the historic, Christian doctrine of marriage and sexuality.” Greg Johnson has been a keynote speaker at the annual Revoice conference, the leading conference for the gay celibate Christian movement (side B).
Legitimate concerns have been — and continue to be — raised about Revoice’s teaching on matters pertaining to concupiscence, Christian identity, sin, celibacy, union with Christ, pre-fall and post-resurrection sexual orientation, marriage, family, spiritual friendship, mortification, repentance, sanctification, and the gospel.
If anything, the annual conference has drifted even further from Biblical moorings since 2018. For example, at the 2022 Revoice conference, a keynote speaker’s bio listed her preferred pronouns as “they/them.” She spoke on the subject of gender minorities. Despite the clear negotiation of sound doctrine, Johnson and Memorial PCA continue to be one of Revoice’s loudest supporters.
Memorial PCA operates one of its buildings on campus as an arts venue. It’s a part of their mission to love and support the arts community of St. Louis. They call it The Chapel: A Sanctuary for the Arts.
In the spring of 2020, they raised some eyebrows by hosting a queer festival called Transluminate. The Q Collective describes Transluminate as “a short-play festival and celebration of transgender, agender, non-binary, genderqueer, and gender-fluid artists.” Predictably, controversy ensued in the wake of this event on the campus of Memorial PCA. The session of Memorial, however, remains committed to opening “The Chapel” to similar events. For example, this fall they hosted an event called Celestial Bodies, “a euphoric dance party” advertised with transgenders singing in front of a stained-glass window emblazoned with an image of Christ.
Despite what some view as obvious departures from Christian truth and faithful witness, the session of Memorial PCA is not convinced. They have communicated to their congregation that to protect their ministers and ministries from further “distraction and abuse” and from the “baseless judicial attacks” of PCA elders and church courts, they are recommending to their congregation to vote to withdraw from the Presbyterian Church in America in accordance with Book of Church Order 25-11:
Particular churches need remain in association with any court of this body only so long as they themselves so desire. The relationship is voluntary, based upon mutual love and confidence, and is in no sense to be maintained by the exercise of any force or coercion whatsoever. A particular church may withdraw from any court of this body at any time for reasons which seem to it sufficient, provided, however, the congregation is given at least thirty-days’ notice of any meeting where the congregation is to vote on a proposed withdrawal from the Presbyterian Church in America.
The Memorial Session was right to recommend that they withdraw from the Presbyterian Church in America. While we are a denomination for wretched sinners (of whom I am the worst), we are not a home for Revoice’s version of Christianity or Memorial PCA’s variety of Christian outreach. The PCA was founded fifty years ago upon the inspired, authoritative, and efficacious truth of the Holy Scripture, and the faithful summary of doctrine set forth in the Westminster Standards. In order to cultivate a healthy Reformed and Confessional denomination in the future, we must hold fast to our biblical and confessional commitments. Moreover, we must not, for the sake of mission or anything else, accommodate the culture on the issues of human sexuality and identity. Rather, we must rededicate ourselves to the faithful proclamation of the gospel through the ordinary means of grace — the gospel which IS the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes (Rom. 1:16-17).
Those who find themselves sympathetic to Revoice, Memorial PCA, and the convictions of progressive Christianity, may want to consider following Memorial PCA’s lead to find other denominational pastures. A divided denomination cannot stand.
 Memorial Presbyterian Church, at the recommendation of their session of elders, voted to leave the Presbyterian Church in America in a called meeting on Friday, November 18th. You can read Memorial Session’s letter here.
 The church website may be accessed here. A helpful overview of some of the recent controversies can be found here.
 Revoice Mission statement listed on the website in 2018. An excellent report on Revoice was written by the Central Carolina Presbytery (PCA) and may be accessed here.
 The PCA’s Ad Interim Committee on Human Sexuality rightly states that “we name our sins, but are not named by them.” Read the report here.
 In this two-part interview, Rosaria Butterfield (a former gay activist) provides a powerful critique of Revoice and the so-called side B gay Christian movement. You can listen here.
 See speakers and bios here.
 To learn more see Zachary Groff’s article here.
 The advertisement may be viewed here.
 In June of 2021, I spoke with Richard Phillips at the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals conference, offering a biblically orthodox approach to matters of sexuality. Those messages may be accessed here.