Several months ago we first reported that one of the nation’s largest churches in the Presbyterian USA denomination is considering breaking away from that affiliation. The discernment process at First Presbyterian Church Houston is underway and is already stirring up debate.
Back in January, members of the First Presbyterian Church Houston voted to enter a discernment process in which they would decide whether to remain with the PC (USA) or leave and join another reformed denomination.
Theological issues led to that vote, including questions over Holy Scripture, gay marriage and leadership in the church and the means of salvation.
First Presbyterian is working with the Presbytery of New Covenant, the governing body for PC (USA) churches in Southeast Texas, to implement a procedure known as Gracious Reconciliation and Dismissal.
It’s a process that allows congregations to leave the PC (USA) without schism, should they so choose, and be released into a different denomination with as little disruption as possible.
Bill Hargrove is co-chair of the steering committee handling that process for the congregation.
“Part of our objective is to calm any nervousness that people may have. This is going to take a long time.”
The discernment process can take as long as two years, although it’s likely to take much less.