OLATHE, KS (KCTV) –
A fight between two factions of a church in Overland Park is coming closer to an end and a judge’s ruling on the dispute has taken a turn that sets it apart from similar battles that came before.
The split in the Presbyterian Church of Stanley was brewing for years and came to a head last summer. By fall, it led to a lawsuit over which group gets to keep the building and property at West 148th Street and Antioch Road where both denominations have been worshiping in separate rooms for almost a year now. It’s an uneasy and temporary arrangement that was settled on only with court intervention.
When parishioners with each group pass in the hallway, they are polite, but it’s hard not to notice a certain tension. People on both sides say the process has been painful.
“There are a lot of hurting people right now, people who have raised their families here,” said Ellen Crain, a PCUSA parishioner, “There’s even division within families. It’s terrible.”
“These are people who sang in choir together,” said Pat Fuller, a church elder with the breakaway group. “They feel financially invested, spiritually invested. I understand that. But we do too.”
The church was founded by the Presbyterian Church (USA), also referred to as the PCUSA. It’s what some might consider the “mainline” church. Last year, after much back and forth, the church’s pastor and a group of at least 300 parishioners decided to leave the PCUSA and join a new denomination with a more conservative view of theology. That group, the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians, also known as the ECO, is growing in numbers. The PCUSA numbers are dwindling, though the PCUSA is still by far the largest Presbyterian denomination in the United States.
For background, see: http://www.kctv5.com/story/29549435/a-church-divided-battle-brews-inside-overland-park-church