(By Lee Shearer, Athens Banner-Herald, GA) Members of an Athens Presbyterian church who want to change denominations are free to join a more conservative Presbyterian denomination – but they shouldn’t be allowed to keep church property as they leave, according to the recommendation of an “administrative commission” appointed to consider the dissidents’ request.
The commission has also recommended that church administrators “dissolve the pastoral calls” of Central Presbyterian Church teaching elders Bob Bohler and assistant pastor Deb Trimpe, Central’s pastor and assistant pastor.
Leaders from Presbyterian churches in northeast Georgia gathered in Athens’ Covenant Presbyterian Church last week to hear the commission’s recommendations read by Travis Adams, Stated Clerk of the Northeast Georgia Presbytery. A stated clerk is the chief ecclesiastical officer of a Presbytery. A Presbytery is an administrative body representing all the churches of a geographic district.
The Presbyterian Church (USA), the county’s largest Presbyterian denomination, allows same-sex marriage and the ordination of gays. ECO, which came into existence about five years ago, does not.
In a vote earlier this year, a large majority of Central members voted in favor of the denomination switch and to keep the church’s 380 Alps Road property as they made the change to ECO.
Read the Report of the Administrative Commission for Central Presbyterian Church, Athens, GA to Northeast Georgia Presbytery (December 13, 2016)
You can bet if this propery had a big mortgage on it the presbytery would let them keep it only after a “settlement” amount. These people have no shame.
Only in PCUSA speak can over 80% of a congregation be labled as dissenters.
Passengers aboard the Titanic reportedly sang “Nearer my God to Thee” as it sank. From the actions of those guiding the PCUSA as it slips below the water I question whether they know the words or the tune.
I’m inferring from these reports that only 20% of the congregation wants to remain in the PCUSA. Once the presbytery gets the property and sends the 80% majority packing, can anyone explain how the 20% faction is going to continue as a viable congregation trying to cover the costs of maintaining a building intended to accommodate a congregation five times their size? The Episcopalian denomination has been humiliated again and again when they seized the property and evicted the congregation leaving the denomination stuck with an empty building while the congregation continued more vital than ever in a different location.
Thought the comment was interesting about how the Presbytery thinks Central will grow because all those who left previously will come back from other PCUSA nearby congregations. If that is so, then the net loss to the Presbytery is still the 80% of Central members who leave. Will any of the other nearby congregations close (or close sooner) because these folks were only half-hearted in their commitment. Very short sighted. Such a sad, sad situation.
I do not think taking property from a congregation is responsible. Of course, the denomination claims the right but that does not make it right. Most presbyteries have contributed little to the ongoing life the the parish, so why the claim? I view the act
as a means for the governing body to stay in business until the money runs out. Hardly a noble act.
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