(Press release). ATHENS, GA, January 9, 2017 – Central Presbyterian Church leaders announced today that the church has disaffiliated from the Presbyterian Church (USA) in order to immediately associate with ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians, which is another national Reformed Presbyterian denomination.
“We are excited to be joining ECO,” said Dr. Bob Bohler, senior pastor for nearly 20 years. “It is a growing, vibrant denomination with a strong, Biblical theology, and a great match on all counts for our church.”
The church’s corporate board of directors, which also functioned as the church’s “Session,” unanimously voted on January 4 to disaffiliate from the Presbyterian Church (USA) and join with ECO as soon as possible..
“We had been trying to work with our local presbytery,” said Associate Pastor Deb Trimpe. “But the presbytery announced that it intended to fire all pastors, remove the church’s governing body, and take over the church, telling us that anyone who didn’t like it was free to leave.”
Under the circumstances, the leadership of the church believed that continued strife was not the best course for this vibrant church. As part of the move to the new denomination, the church changed its name to Alps Road Presbyterian Church and filed an equitable action asking a judge to determine the status of the property in light of the change of denominations.
“We are ready to refocus our efforts on our programs and missions, both in our community and beyond, and we believe becoming the first ECO church in our area will best further our work,” Bohler said. “I’ve been humbled by the community’s overwhelming support for our church during this time.”
The number of churches in the ECO denomination has grown more than 10-fold in the past few years, making it one of the fastest growing denominations in the country. Other ECO churches include Highland Presbyterian Church in Dallas, Texas, and Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in the San Francisco Bay area in California.