Shuck and Jive

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Where are the Progressive Presbyterians?

Progressive and Presbyterian!

On the right of this blog you will run into the heading "Progressive (and nearly progressive) Presbyterian Congregations." If you are looking for a progressive congregation in your area or are just curious about what these congregations are like, check out the list. The list is alphabetical by state, then by town or city. I have gleaned various web pages and have listed congregations that meet the following criteria:

1. The congregation has a functioning web page. There are many progressive congregations without web pages of course. But they cannot be checked out except to visit them physically. If a congregation cares at all about attracting people, it needs to be on-line.

(I have changed my thinking and I now include congregations without web pages. I link to an on-line article or to the list to which the congregation is affiliated, ie. More Light Presbyterians).

2. The congregation exhibits some kind of progressive identity. It either demonstrates at least one of Hal Taussig's five characteristics, is listed on a progressive site, or calls itself progressive. Here are the characteristics Dr. Taussig identified in his book, A New Spiritual Home: Progressive Christianity at the Grass Roots.

  • Creative, expressive worship. This includes worship that is becoming less clergy focused and includes more congregational participation. This may include guided meditations, extended periods of silence, dance, sharing of joys and concerns, a variety of rituals and readings from other traditions including marginalized aspects of Christianity.
  • Intellectual curiosity. Progressive Christianity demonstrates an openness to new ideas and to scholarly research. You will find progressive congregations hosting book studies on the historical Jesus, feminist theology, early Christian communities, and so forth. These insights are used to inform worship and practice.
  • Gender-bended. Progressive congregations are specificially open and affirming to all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender-identity and proud that they have taken that step. They are also fully supportive of women in the full life of the church and include insights from the various feminist theologies including inclusive language for God.
  • Deep Ecumenicity. Progressive congregations do not view other religions as false. You will find in these churches study groups to learn and appreciate the insights of other religions, incorporating some of their prayers and rituals into worship. Some may include yoga meditation as a ministry of the congregation.
  • An emphasis on social justice, particularly, eco-justice. Progressive congregations have a deep concern for the environment as well as other social justice issues, speak of them, and advocate for changes in public policy.
3. The congregation is Presbyterian. If I had time, I could make a listing of UCC, Methodist, ELCA, Episcopal, MCC congregations and so forth. I was pleased to find this many Presbyterian congregations.

Some of the links that were most helpful in finding these congregations are Faith Futures which lists all of the churches in Taussig's book, including those without web pages. GayChurch gleans from all the welcoming organizations (including More Light Presbyterians and Covenant Network). The Center for Progressive Christianity (TCPC) has a listing of affiliates and Westar has a listing of congregations connected with the Jesus Seminar. The Clergy Letter Project is another source.

From these lists I compiled the list of Presbyterian congregations according to the above criteria. This list is not even. Some congregations are more progressive than others. Some are simply mainstream, but even those have taken some modest steps toward progressive thinking. If you know of a congregation that should be listed, or if there is a broken link, let me know.

Good Hunting!


  1. Of all the Presbyterian churches in my area (San Francisco), the one that seems to be the most progressive, based on the web inquiries I've done, is Sausalito Presbyterian. Obviously, it is impossible for me to know without actually visiting. The trip across the bridge is a bit of a hindrance since I prefer something closer, and also I've begun to settle into another progressive (non-Presbyterian) church that I like, but I really do appreciate the "deeds not creeds" message on their web page, so they do seem pretty cool.

  2. Sausalito was featured in Hal Taussig's book. The pastor, Jim Burklo, is a leader of TCPC. Glad you have found a community!

  3. A few recommendations

    University Christian Ministries at Southern Illinois University where I'm the campus pastor. We get support from the PCUSA through the Synod of the Lincoln Trails. Our web address is

    The other is a site from Westar Institute (Jesus Seminar) which has a list of favorable congregations, many of which are PCUSA sites that would be worth checking out.

  4. Thanks, Dwight!

    I have you listed! Looks like a great ministry.