Riverside Church votes 83-0 to join the PCA
By John H. Adams, The Layman Online, August 29, 2006
While the Presbytery of Prospect Hill continued to map plans to take over Riverside Presbyterian Church in Linn Grove, Iowa, the congregation voted 83-0 Sunday night to petition for membership in the Presbyterian Church in America.
On July 24, Russell Westbrook, pastor of the separating congregation, became a member of the Iowa Presbytery of the PCA “after a very thorough examination. If the Lord wills, our church will officially be in the Iowa Presbytery of the PCA very soon.”
Meanwhile, Westbrook said the Riverside “session and congregation are still being harassed by the presbytery.”
The presbytery’s administrative commission has scheduled a meeting tonight in the Riverside building. The Riverside session was invited to attend the meeting, but “acting on legal advice, we will not be there,” Westbrook said.
In an e-mail note to “friends,” Westbrook also said the presbytery plans to appoint a moderator for the session and begin supplying the pulpit.
Riverside, a 124-member congregation according to the denomination’s records at the end of 2005, claims to be the rightful owner of the local church property. The presbytery disputes that claim and is using strategies as outlined by the denomination’s lawyers in their “privileged and confidential” documents to secure the property.
“While we are joyful about our vote on Sunday and anticipating all the Lord is going to do through our church, we still desire your prayers as we struggle with the principalities and powers of darkness (Ephesians 6:12),” Westbrook said. “Of course, we serve the God who is the head over every power and authority and know he has disarmed them with cross (Colossians 2:9,15).”
Last week, the presbytery ordered Westbrook to begin administrative leave and told him to have no contact with church members and not to enter the church building. He ignored those orders.