By Sarah M. Wojcik, The Morning Call. (Pennsylvania)
The Lehigh Presbytery has determined that there is not sufficient support within the congregation of the largest Presbyterian church in the Lehigh Valley to justify its break from the most visible national branch of the denomination.
But that doesn’t necessarily spell an end to the efforts by members of First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem to leave the Presbyterian Church (USA) in favor of the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians, or ECO.
In a straw poll administered by a Susquehanna Polling and Research, the church’s congregation fell short of the required two-thirds of support to move the dismissal process forward, according to an email distributed by the Lehigh Presbytery.
The poll of 1,308 of the church’s 2,600 members found 57 percent in favor of leaving the Presbyterian Church (USA) and 43 percent in favor of staying, the email said.
With that poll and a survey conducted last year for First Presbyterian that showed 61 percent favoring breaking away, the Lehigh Presbytery said it considered the discernment process ended.
Instead, the Lehigh Presbytery’s email called for “reconciliation through continued and constructive dialogue.”