Members of Highland Park Presbyterian Church voted overwhelmingly Sunday to disassociate with its national body to join a more conservative denomination.
With a vote of 1,337 to 170, the church decided to leave Presbyterian Church (USA), the largest Presbyterian denomination in the country. Another vote cemented the church majority’s desire to join A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO), which was formed by former PCUSA congregations in 2012 Other churches, including First Presbyterian Church in Amarillo, have also recently made the move.
“By joining ECO, we are not walking away from our Presbyterian values; we are restoring them,” the Rev. Joe Rightmyer, interim senior pastor of Highland Park Presbyterian, said in a statement on the church’s website. “With this vote to change, we will still be in the rich stream of Presbyterian theology, and we are ready to begin working with other churches in a growing denomination that is guided by the same beliefs and tenets that direct us.”
Those against the split believe the process was rushed and did not allow both sides a chance for equal representation or discussion.
Kent Krause, a church elder, said the debate about leaving PCUSA has been bubbling for decades.
Many members of the congregation disagree with the a la carte religious beliefs taken by the national body, he said.