DALLAS (AP) _ Leaders of the Presbyterian Church in America voted Thursday to allow varying interpretations of biblical accounts of creation.
Members of the country's second largest Presbyterian denomination had debated whether the biblical book of Genesis means that God created the universe in six 24-hour days or six ``figurative'' days, which some see as a concession to evolution and modern science.
The general assembly of 1,500 male ministers and church elders voted 2-1 to deny an attempt by some conservative members to label as exceptions interpretations that do not support the literal viewpoint.
``It allows men to be faithful to their convictions of what the scripture teaches,'' said John Yenchko, pastor of New Life Presbyterian Church in Drescher, Pa.
The PCA, which believes the Bible is the strict and infallible rule of faith, has grappled with the meaning of words found in the Westminster Confession of Faith, the chief doctrinal standard of its church.
Chapter 4 of the confession reads: ``It pleased God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost ... in the beginning to create ... the world ... in the space of six days; and all was very good.''
Some PCA members say they want any interpretations that differ with the literal viewpoint labeled ``exceptions'' because they're at odds with the confession's intent.
The PCA is meeting in Dallas this week for its 29th General Assembly.
About 2,000 people are attending the gathering in Dallas, which ends Friday. Members are expected to debate the roles of women in the church and in military combat positions.
The more conservative PCA _ with some 300,000 members _ is the smaller of the nation's two main Presbyterian denominations but has doubled in size in the past decade.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) has 2.5 million members and is seen as a more liberal faction. That group last week voted to drop a ban on ordaining homosexuals and women.