By Eboni Graham, Amarillo Globe News.
The churches — Westminster Presbyterian Church, First Presbyterian Church and Covenant Presbyterian Church — voted to leave Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) because the organization has moved to the left theologically over the years.
They are now part of the more conservative ECO, A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians. The move came at a cost, with negotiations to break from Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) lasting nearly two years.
“We have officially by action of the Palo Duro Presbytery on May 1, with the signing of the papers on both sides, officially been released, and we are now members of ECO,” said the Rev. Clay Brown, pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church. “We really thought negotiations were at an impasse, and then we had a meeting between our negotiating team and the administrative commission on April 30 that seemed to get past the blockage.”
The discernment process for First Presbyterian, which took more than a year, ended with an agreed final gift of $400,000 to Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Westminster Presbyterian ended its process with a departure settlement of $125,000.
During the Palo Duro Presbytery meeting May 1 and 2 at First Presbyterian Church in Dumas, Amarillo’s First Presbyterian, Westminster Presbyterian and Covenant Presbyterian were dismissed from the Lubbock-based presbytery and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to join ECO, A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.