Windwood Presbyterian Church, a 1000+ member congregation just northeast of Houston, Texas has voted to disaffiliate from the Presbyterian Church (USA) and join the ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians. Windwood has been engaged in prolonged litigation with the Presbytery of New Covenant over church property issues. That dispute is not resolved by the congregation’s vote to realign with ECO.
A press release from the church verified that on May 18, 2014, Windwood Presbyterian Church held a congregational meeting and that 395 ballots were given out to verified active members, representing a 36 percent quorum of the 1,082 on the active roll of the church.
- Motion One asked each member to “approve” or “disapprove” of the following: “That in response to God’s leading, the congregation of Windwood Presbyterian Church terminate its voluntary affiliation with the PCUSA.”
- Motion Two asked each member to “approve” or “disapprove” of the following: “That Windwood join another Presbyterian denomination namely, ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.”
The result for Motion One (to disaffiliate from PCUSA) was 391 to 4 in favor of disaffiliation. The result for Motion Two (to affiliate with ECO) was 388 to 5 in favor of affiliating with ECO.
Prior to the vote, Elder Tad Bodeman, read from remarks prepared by the session.
Brothers and sisters,
As you know, at its March 25th meeting the Session of Windwood Presbyterian Church unanimously adopted a resolution to terminate its voluntary affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA) and seek affiliation with ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO).
For many years, the session has made it clear that the direction of the PCUSA is not one that we can follow and still remain faithful to the Lord and His Word. PCUSA has made changes in a number of areas that reflect a significant turning away from the traditional confessions of our faith and from the historically orthodox understanding of the authority and interpretation of Scripture. The session has been watching the situation carefully over the years and believes now is the time for us to make this move.
Three crucial aspects of our life as a congregation were at the center of the Session’s discernment of where God is leading Windwood:
1. Our Mission: Making Disciples of Jesus Christ: In the Great Commission, Jesus charges us, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” The PCUSA has rejected the sole Lordship of Jesus Christ in favor of “respecting” other religions as valid ways of reaching God. We no longer have a common goal with the PCUSA in making disciples of Jesus Christ.
2. Our Governance of Windwood: The constitution of the Presbyterian Church for centuries recognized that the constitution was itself subject and secondary to the inspired written Word of God. In 2010 and 2011, the General Assembly and then the majority of presbyteries affirmed the change of seeing Scripture, not as authoritative, but merely a guideline. We should not be under the authority of those who will not themselves be under the authority of Scripture.
3. Our Identity is rooted in Scripture with Jesus at the Center. In light of our concerns over the current state and trajectory of the PCUSA, we believe that if Windwood remains under the authority and influence of the institutional PCUSA the identity of Windwood as a church rooted in Scripture with Jesus at the center will be lost.
After many years of active questioning, praying and studying this issue, the session remains convinced that God is calling Windwood to remain part of a larger connectional body and not simply becoming an independent congregation. Being connected with other congregations who share a common commitment to the essentials of the faith is an integral part of being Presbyterian and of our faith at Windwood. We believe we are called by God into that kind of connection with other believers. The session believes that the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians (ECO) is the best fit based on a number of criteria we used to evaluate the various options.
The session and pastors unanimously agree, this is God’s calling for Windwood and as such I put the following 2 motions before the congregation of Windwood.
The press release indicates that “Windwood’s leadership is excited to move forward with ECO and feels blessed to join with others affirming Essential Tenets of the Faith and focusing on:
Covenant: Connecting leaders in accountable relationships; Encouraging collaboration; Ministering out of God’s unrelenting grace and covenant with His people
Order: Uniting around a shared theological core; Committing to a shared way of life; Nurturing gospel-centered leaders
Evangelical: Advancing the gospel of Jesus Christ; Planting new missional communities; Serving our communities and God’s world in Jesus’ name
Presbyterian: Standing within our Reformed and confessional heritage; Affirming the life of the mind; Embracing the value of representative government
Windwood Presbyterian Church celebrates its 50th anniversary this year; the church was established in 1964.