First Presbyterian Church of Lenoir, N.C., has been dismissed from the Presbyterian Church (USA) by its presbytery for a price of $600,000. The congregation was also required to change its name from First – to Lenoir Presbyterian Church.
On July 26, the Presbytery of Western North Carolina voted to dismiss the 437-member congregation to ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.
The name – Lenoir Presbyterian – is the historic name of the church. The white cornerstone from the 1903 sanctuary with “Lenoir Presbyterian Church” inscribed on it is displayed in the church library.
In a July 26 letter to church members, the session wrote that “Our name is both old and new: Lenoir Presbyterian Church served this congregation well for the first 75 years of ministry, and it now represents a congregation set free to build a flourishing church and make disciples of Jesus Christ. We believe God has placed the boundaries of our ministry in plesant places.”
Church votes for dismissal
Out of the 223 votes cast, 167 members of First/Lenoir congregation voted in favor of being dismissed on June 26. Members had voted earlier – on May 22 – to approve the $600,000 property settlement.
First/Lenoir agreed to pay the first $100,000 immediately. The remainder will be paid in equal amounts, with no interest, over a 10-year period.
Those wishing to remain in the PCUSA will worship under the name First Presbyterian Church at a different location. The Administrative Commission (AC) that worked with the church during its dismissal has recommended to the presbytery that “after paying expenses related to the dismissal process, the bulk of funds be used to support the continuing PCUSA congregation of FPC of Lenoir.”
Also at the presbytery meeting, commissioners received reports that two Administrative Commissions (AC) are in the process of negotiating property settlements with the 465-member First Presbyterian Church in Hendersonville, N.C., and 51-member Walnut Grove Presbyterian Church in Newland, N.C.
It was also announced at the meeting that an AC had been appointed to work with the 118-member First Presbyterian Church in Kings Mountain, N.C. On June 5, the congregation voted to affiliate with ECO.