Editor’s note: The duly-elected session of Central Presbyterian Church called a congregational meeting in January for the purpose of voting on the following question “Shall Central Presbyterian Church ask Northeast Georgia Presbytery to dismiss it, with its property, to the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians, according to conditions acceptable to the Session and Church Treasurer?” Subsequently, the presbytery’s Administrative Commission asserted original jurisdiction, replaced the session with itself, and changed the question. At the congregational meeting, through the appropriate use of Robert’s Rules and the PCUSA Book of Order, the question was restored and answered in the affirmative by an 82 percent majority.
By Lee Shearer, Online Athens (Georgia).
Dissident members of Athens’ Central Presbyterian Church voted by a wide margin Sunday to leave the mainstream Presbyterian Church (USA) denomination and affiliate with a more conservative branch — and to take the church’s property with them.
Whether they will ultimately succeed remains to be seen.
About 300 men, women and children packed the church sanctuary for Sunday afternoon’s special meeting, and more than 200 of them filed to the front of the church to be certified as active members and cast a simple ballot — yes or no to the question of leaving the Presbyterian Church in the USA and affiliate instead with the ECO branch of Presbyterianism.
Fewer than 1 in 5 wanted to stay in the Presbyterian Church (USA), also called PCUSA, which sanctions same-sex marriage and the ordination of women.
When Pastor Bob Bohler announced the ballot results at the end of the two-hour meeting, 159 voted to be “dismissed with property,” 36 to stay. Eleven ballots were tossed into a “provisional” pile — names of members who were not on the church’s active roll — but a majority of them also voted to leave and at any rate were not enough to change the decisive majority in favor of disaffiliation from the Presbyterian Church (USA) and join ECO, or An Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians.