B y Nick Roth, The Cape Gazette (Delaware.)
Lewes Presbyterian Church has separated from the national denomination Presbyterian Church (USA). Local officials say the national denomination’s liberal interpretation of scripture is not in line with the local church’s more conservative approach.
Shortly after the official separation earlier this year, Lewes Presbyterian Church aligned itself with the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians, a denomination formed in 2012 by former congregations of the Presbyterian Church (USA). ECO, as it’s called, has grown to more than 200 congregations nationwide, with Lewes Presbyterian and White Clay Creek Presbyterian in Newark as its only Delaware congregations.
Issues that led to the separation vary from Presbyterian Church (USA)’s stances on political issues, such as same-sex marriage, to the organization’s bureaucratic structure.
Jim Miller, who helped negotiate Lewes’ deal to separate from PCUSA, said he’s seen the national denomination change significantly over the years.
“The purpose of a denomination is to support local congregations to connect with other churches,” he said. “[PCUSA] is a huge bureaucracy. It has changed over the years, from one of supporting the congregations to a top-on-down approach.”
Theologically, he said, the PCUSA also abandoned the basic beliefs of the religion. He said Book of Confessions, containing the creeds, confessions and catechisms the denomination is based on, is no longer central to PCUSA’s philosophy.
“It’s like when you buy a Chevrolet, you expect certain things,” Miller said. “There are no rules, basically. Even today the Book of Confessions is there and the organization does what it wants.”