By Riley Yates, The Morning Call.
A bid by First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, Pa., to split from its national denomination, amid unhappiness over same-sex marriages and the ordination of gay ministers, landed back in the courts Tuesday.
In two lawsuits filed in Northampton County Court, the regional arm of the Presbyterian Church (USA) asked a judge to prohibit the congregation from breaking away, as it sued two weeks ago seeking to do.
The countersuits by the Lehigh Presbytery were joined by 22 members of the 140-year-old Center Street church, the largest Presbyterian congregation in the Lehigh Valley. It came as church leaders have scheduled a congregational meeting Sunday to vote on whether to immediately separate from the denomination, according to the filings.
The suits were necessary “to prevent this group of self-styled leaders from taking action that is contrary to the bylaws of the church, as well as PCUSA,” said Richard Santee Jr., an attorney representing the 22 members. He called the lawsuits a “sad day” for Presbyterians.
Unless the presbytery has something in writing from this church since the union of 1983 not a charter from 1955 saying that the presbytery owns the property this is nothing more than a power play to keep from losing a cash cow church, they could care a less about the people.
If the 57% were to up and leave, which is what the presbytery would love, this church would not last 10 years in it’s present form without endowments or grants from the presbytery, as revisionist don’t tithe.
From what I’ve read the “poll” suffered from some irregularities. Even if it did not, a poll is a preference and not a vote. A poll is not much more than a popularity contest. I’m still perplexed by the presbytery’s unilateral shut-down of the process. There may be people who would prefer to stay but would now vote to leave. The difference between 57% and 2/3 is not that large. If people who were ambivalent were offended by the shut down of the process a truthful vote may be significantly different.
Just got this off the website of FPC “that the Lehigh Presbytery Committee on Ministry rescinded the contract to our new Senior Pastor, Rev. Dr. Marnie Crumpler. The presbytery did not consult with Dr. Crumpler before making this decision.”
What a bunch of petty, greedy and deceitful people that make up the Lehigh presbytery, I’ve seen and delt with bad presbyters, however this buch takes the cake. WOW
I think of this as a land grab by the covenant movement and not a lack of concern for the people. To participate in a succession movement, while ignoring the national church and bylaws, the last two centuries of critical biblical scholarship, which used to be one of the hallmarks of Presbyterian pastoral training, and further ignoring the main axiom of the the reformation, once reformed, always reforming, these self-styled leaders have very little which might be called Presbyterian. Let them go to their theologically justified fortresses of fear, but the building and property, that was built and paid for by Presbyterians.
You’re right, it was built by Presbyterians, which is why if they don’t leave, it will not look like a Presbyterian Church within a few years. Kind of like this GA, which opened in prayer by a Muslim………….really
“Reformed and always reforming”….toward Biblical fidelity and now away from Biblical fidelity.
The FPC Bethlehem is not advocating an end to its Presbyterian identity but changing which Presbyterian denomination it is connected to.
I don’t understand what is perplexing. The straw poll was part of an agreed upon process. The fact that the two-thirds majority was not reached was supposed to have resulted in an honest and earnest attempt at reconciliation. Instead, silly claims of “irregularities” were made and a lawsuit–clearly drawn-up weeks in advance–was filed and the interests of more than 500 members who voted to remain in PCUSA was ignored.