Located in Wesley Chapel, south of Charlotte, Siler was granted its gracious dismissal from the PCUSA by the Presbytery of Charlotte and affiliated with the EPC in the fall of 2012.
Siler Presbyterian Church was organized in 1895 and currently has a membership of approximately 500.
According to presbytery minutes, the congregation followed the presbytery’s policy on reconciliation. A quorum of the congregation voted on Sept. 20, 2012, to seek dismissal from the PCUSA, with 99 percent of those voting (348-3, with one abstention) in favor of leaving the denomination.
Ninety-eight percent of those voting agreed to align with the EPC.
“We chose the EPC because it was established and not still forming,” Siler Pastor Bruce Powell wrote in an email sent to The Layman. “They have carefully defined Essentials, which we agree with, and the presbytery would be more regional. … We were greeted in the EPC with open arms.”
Powell wrote that Siler’s congregation viewed the separation from the PCUSA as a “call from God” rather than merely frustrations with current trends within the denomination.
“Our intention was to approach the transition out of the PCUSA and into EPC without animosity or anger,” he wrote. “We determined to have no accusations toward the presbytery or the denomination, but to address the differences in our visions and directions.
“We continue to pray for the PCUSA and hope God will bring renewal into her ranks.”
Powell indicated Siler’s membership could not have asked for a better dismissal process than what it had working with the Presbytery of Charlotte, and upon its departure the congregation presented a financial gift to the presbytery.
“Siler has had a gracious dismissal from our presbytery,” he wrote. “The discernment process they approved was very fair, and the presbytery treated us with dignity and respect. We are grateful to the Presbytery of Charlotte for the kind and gracious spirit in which they dealt with us.”
“We could not have asked for any better departure or relationships than we had with our presbytery.”
Troy congregation also dismissed
During a Feb. 16, 2013, meeting of the Presbytery of Charlotte, another North Carolina congregation was dismissed to join the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC).
Troy Presbyterian Church, located in Montgomery County east of Charlotte, was dismissed following a unanimous quorum vote of the congregation to seek dismissal and to join the EPC. Troy has a membership of approximately 50.
In the last year, at least 10 churches from the Presbytery of Charlotte have been dismissed or started the process of seeking dismissal from the PCUSA. At least six (Bethel, Bethlehem, Huntersville, Ridgecrest, Siler and Troy) have been dismissed. Two others seeking dismissal since 2007 (Rourk and McLean in Ellerbe, N.C.) were dismissed in July 2012.