By Jeff Mordock
The Delaware Court of Chancery will be looking at a 263-year-old deed and the largely undefined area of religious corporation to resolve a dispute between the White Clay Creek Presbyterian Church and the governing body for Delaware’s Presbyterian congregations that stemmed from the admittance of gay and lesbian clergy.
White Clay Creek has sought to split from the faith and align itself with a more conservative sect because of its opposition to homosexual ministers, according to court documents. However, the state’s Presbyterian authority claims it controls the church’s assets and if White Clay Creek wants to join another sect, it must surrender its building and property.
The ministry overseeing the Presbyterian faith through the country, known as the Presbyterian Church (USA) or PC(USA), adopted a 2011 constitutional amendment permitting the ordination of gay and lesbian individuals as deacons, pastors, elders or ministers. Under the amendment, churches are free to make their own decisions on homosexual clergy and are not obligated to accept an individual for ordination.
White Clay Creek’s managing council, or session, views homosexuality as a sin and objects to the Presbyterian faith admitting gay and lesbian ministers, according to court documents filed by the New Castle Presbytery, the authority that governs 55 Presbyterian congregations throughout Delaware. The session voted to leave the PC(USA) to join A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians, or ECO, a denomination that opposes the ordination of homosexual ministers.