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.
Read more at http://www.dallasnews.com/news/community-news/park-cities/headlines/20131027-highland-park-presbyterian-votes-to-change-denominations.ece?nclick_check=1
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In light of this vote, what reason is there for Grace Presbytery to continue to engage HPPC in a court of law? Only one: to try to extract money, as much of it as possible, from that congregation. This is the poisonous fruit of the regrettable and hurtful trust clause. Presbytery officials should do the gracious thing, withdrawing from the lawsuit and giving HPPC their blessing as HPPC continues its work for God’s kingdom in ECO.
i don’t think that anyone has mentioned this recently, if they have, my apologies, but there were at least 2 groups that left Highland Park at an earlier point in time in order to leave the PC(USA) – one ending up in the E.P.C. and the other in the P.C.A.
also, presumably HIghland Park could have used that 7 year window of opportunity to withdraw with their property after the P.C.U.S./U.P.C.U.S.A. re-union. with the clarity of 20/20 hindisght it might have been a happier story for the church if they had left then – no lawsuit and hopefully no splintering of the congregation.
On May 19, 1991 Highland Park PC had 5278 members – a majority of which voted to continue the church’s relationship with the PCUSA and not seek dismissal to another Reformed body. The following Sunday, 1500 of those Presbyterians formed what is now the Park Cities Presbyterian Church, affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). PCPC now has more than 5500 members. Highland Park’s membership has rebounded from the loss as well – the Office of the General Assembly reports that HPPC ended 2012 with 4896 members. So, it could be argued that the Presbyterian witness in the Park Cities neighborhood of Dallas has been multiplied over the years by division.
what about a “Christ P.C.” or “Christ Church”? i have in my notes a group by that name leaving Highland Park and going to the E.P.C. Cannot find a congregation of that name presently on the E.P.C. web site
As I remember it was not a majority that voted to remain with PCUSA. I was present for the vote. I believe a 7/8s majority was required and the vote was around 60/40, but not the overwhelming majority required. Everyone’s heart sank. It was a solid majority, but not enough. I agree though, I consider PCPC our sister congregation and really did serve as a plant church. We lost a lot of leadership and served as a catalyst for me to become a Deacon at HPPC a call which I don’t think I would have had otherwise.