What the Rev. Gerrit Dawson sees as “a drift away from traditional Christian orthodoxy and morality” (The Advocate, Oct. 27 ) on the part of the Presbyterian Church (USA), I see as a courageous response to God’s call for justice. As a minister in the PCUSA for 32 years, I feel privileged to be part of a church which seeks to fully embrace the gifts of all its members.

Yes, the Presbyterian Church has suffered painful splits over the course of its history: division over the Civil War; over opening doors for women to be elected to the offices of deacon, elder and pastor; and most recently, over allowing churches the option to elect gay and lesbian Christians to these same offices.

In each case, pain has come to those working toward an understanding of what is right. We Christians may not like conflict, but faith takes us there from time to time, as it took the one we follow.

In my view, addressing and working through conflict is as much a part of our Presbyterian mission as feeding the hungry and telling our story. I trust that, in the crucible of our differences, God calls the church to an ongoing reformation. In my view, the PC (USA) has not drifted but is on a steady course, taking up in every age the foundational struggle of what it means to love God and to love neighbor as self.

the Rev. Charlene Heaton, pastor

Baker Presbyterian Church

Baton Rouge