Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church (MDPC) in Houston has settled the lawsuit it filed in March against New Covenant Presbytery which sought to reaffirm that the church, itself, owned its property.
In the settlement agreement, MDPC agreed to pay the presbytery $825,000 in monthly installments of $13,750 for five years, and give $125,000 over five years to a shared Mission Partner.
In return, New Covenant Presbytery has “released any interest in MDPC’s property,” and stated that it will not take any disciplinary action against MDPC’s pastors, elders, staff, trustees or session.
In his April 20 announcement to the church, Senior Pastor Rev. Dr. Alf Halvorson wrote:
I am pleased to announce that we have reached, and Session has unanimously approved, a settlement agreement with the Presbytery of New Covenant and PCUSA.
As a result of the settlement, the presbytery, on behalf of itself and PCUSA, has forever released any interest in MDPC’s property. This means MDPC now and forever has clear title to its property whether we choose to stay in PCUSA or affiliate with a different Presbyterian denomination.
In return, MDPC has pledged continued financial support of the presbytery for the next five years. The terms of the settlement provide that MDPC will pay $825,000 to the presbytery over a five-year term. MDPC also has agreed to pay $125,000 to a mission partner that will be mutually agreed upon by both MDPC and the presbytery.
The financial settlement is made in recognition of the long-standing relationship MDPC has enjoyed with the presbytery and in support of a mission and outreach partner that is important to both MDPC and the presbytery. The news of this settlement comes less than six weeks after MDPC elected to file suit, and at minimum legal expense—both exceptional outcomes when viewed against the reality that litigation potentially could have played out over several years and resulted in a cloud on MDPC’s property. Our settlement also is faithful to the dollar amount the congregation voted upon in February 2015 as a possible exit fee under the 2011 Gracious Dismissal Procedure, and to the initial settlement offer we made to presbytery in February 2016. Litigation was always the last resort, but we are thankful for the result that it has allowed and for the presbytery’s supportive role in this process.
Thank you for your continued prayers during this process. As we continue in Discernment, please pray for MDPC and our commitment to be guided by God’s good and perfect will.
The 3,461-member Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church began discerning its future in the PCUSA in early 2015, when the congregation voted 839-277 to enter the presbytery’s discernment process. However, the church was searching for a new pastor at the time, and put the process on hold until a new pastor was called. In August of 2015, Halvorson became the senior pastor and during the first two months of 2016, the church leadership began meeting with representatives from the presbytery and exchanged four proposals.
Memorial Drive Presbyterian Files Lawsuit Against Presbytery
Also relevant to this story is the story of First Presbyterian Church Houston
Judge rules that church, not presbytery, owns property
FPC-Houston files lawsuit seeking clear title to property
Texas Supreme Court rules in favor of neutral principles
I still hope there’s a special place in hell for these types of presbytery leaders, greedy and slothful, because we ALL know this money will be used the keep them on the payroll of the presbytery, and NOT to be used for the spreading of the Gopsel!
I hope MDPC bolts out of the pcusa as fast as they can, God Bless Memorial Drive Pres.
” and NOT to be used for the spreading of the Gopsel!”
From the article:
MDPC also has agreed to pay $125,000 to a mission partner that will be mutually agreed upon by both MDPC and the presbytery.
Scott, “MDPC also has agreed to pay $125,000 to a mission partner that will be mutually agreed upon by both MDPC and the presbytery.”
Out of $950.000 they are going to give only $125.000 for missions, oh whoopie doo!!!
Greedy, money hungry presbytery execs who couldn’t make it in the local pastorate where real ministry is done. Presbytery execs are by and large leechers.
James, your bitterness isn’t a good witness.
That is not what the text says, James H. PNC has MANY missions and does much good in our community, including planting new churches. Of the entire settlement, $125,000 will be used toward a mission that MDPC may also help identify. Please do not allow all the anger you apparently harbor to cloud your reading comprehension.
No Counselor, the anger I have is that the presbyteries in this country are black mailing departing churches, new covenant presbytery kept moving the goal post during the game with the intention of either trying to get the property or more money, DO NO lecture me on the good the presbytery is doing, when they are acting in bad fatih!
Including ECO and PCA presbytery staff?
Why is the PCUSA bothering to plant churches? What traditional essentials of the faith will a new PCUSA church stand for? They could save a lot of time and money and just merge with the Unitarian Universalists and stop lying to themselves and everyone else.
I cannot speak with respect to ECO, but in the PCA, as well as most NAPARC denominations, presbytery personnel are mostly completely unpaid volunteers. There are two basic exceptions to this general rule. First, there are regional or presbytery home missionaries which can range from being full salaried (as in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church) to being paid a pittance (as in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America–e.g., Presbytery of Alleghenies just voted to employ a retired minister [who is also going to be stated supply at the RPCNA mission church in Harrisonburg, Va.] to be the Presbytery’s home missionary, with a salary of $125/month and with provision that he can be compensated for expenses up to an additional $250/month if the funds are raised). Secondly, most presbytery stated clerks in NAPARC, if paid at all, are given a stipend which could be, say, $500 per quarter or a similar amount. These stated clerks tend to be either full-time pastors or ruling elders. There may also be some compensation for secretarial help–often, a secretary is either a church secretary or the clerk’s wife.
This is not to say that there is no bureaucracy in the PCA, especially at the General Assembly level, with the attendant tendencies toward a heady combination of power and religion. Indeed, the left-wing in any group tends to gravitate to those administrative positions of power and prestige, thus skewing the “officialdom” in a liberal direction in comparison to the rest of the denomination. Nevertheless, there is a tremendous difference between the PC(USA) and its more conservative counterparts–a difference rooted in theology and the view of the gospel, which then manifests itself in church polity and even with respect to ecclesiastical machinery.
For Christ’s crown and covenant,
Frank J. Smith, Ph.D., D.D.
Minister, Atlanta Presbyterian Fellowship (RPCNA)