Omaha congregation votes to leave PCUSA and align with Evangelical Presbyterian Church
By Craig M. Kibler, March 2, 2007
Citing a commitment to evangelism and mission, the members of a Nebraska congregation have overwhelmingly voted to leave the Presbyterian Church (USA) and affiliate with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.
Covenant Presbyterian Church in Omaha voted 469-9 on Feb. 25 to join the EPC after what church officials said were “years of unsuccessful efforts to effectuate change within the denomination and presbytery on issues which its membership feels are central to their beliefs.”
The congregation, citing “The Louisville Papers,” has asked the Douglas County District Court to issue a judgment declaring that it owns its church buildings.
Wayne Naro, an elder at the church, said the congregation felt it was drifting further from the PCUSA on certain key issues such as the authority of Scripture, the Trinity, ordination standards and others.
“There are segments within the denomination that won’t uphold Scripture, the Trinity, sexuality and other tenets,” said Naro, who also is a member of the board of directors of the Presbyterian Lay Committee.
He said the congregation felt more comfortable aligning with a “missionally focused, Biblically grounded denomination” like the EPC rather than remaining in the PCUSA.
The Rev. Jeremy Grant, senior pastor, said “this congregation has always been willing to make bold and brave decisions to honor God and secure a vibrant and faithful ministry for its future.”
“Covenant Presbyterian Church was spending far too much time and energy concerned about supporting, and being associated with, a denomination that held opposite views on many of our central points of belief,” he said. “Thus, we believed it was time to make a separation and join with a Presbyterian denomination with which we are in agreement on matters of faith and is thriving in mission.”
Chaz Ruark, the interim executive presbyter for Missouri Valley Presbytery, to which Covenant belonged, told The Omaha World-Herald that “I think they (Covenant) feel very strongly about their views, but to me I think we are close enough together that I’m having a hard time understanding the argument.”
He told the newspaper that “this is a very sad time for the church, particularly since he thought the two groups were getting closer on their differences.”
Craig M. Kibler is the Director of Publications for the Presbyterian Lay Committee and Executive Editor of The Layman and The Layman Online. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.