(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)