The United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (UPCUSA) and the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.
(PCUS), which united in 1983 to form the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (PC(USA)), have since 1978
formulated specific polity regarding the ordination and/or installation of gays and lesbians as
officers, i.e. deacons, elders and ministers of the Word and Sacrament, and same-gender blessings and
marriages. This paper serves as a background to the gay and lesbian ordination debate by tracing the
historical development of the Presbyterian ordination polity through decisions made by the Synod
of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PCUSA) in 1729 regarding essentials and
scruples, and the 1910, 1926 and 1927 General Assemblies of the PCUSA regarding subscription. The
subsequent predominance of polity, rather than theological discourse, to solve theological issues laid
the historical foundation for the same-gender ordination and marriage debates and the development
of the accompanying polity since 1978. This paper and the following two papers are evidence of this
development. Thus, I will trace the development of polity without discussing the theology of samegender
ordination or marriages.