I am writing a narrative of Hope Presbyterian Church’s transition from the Presbyterian Church (USA) to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. I felt I should place it within the history of the PCUSA and the Sacramento Presbytery. This is my beginning.
By Viola Larson, Naming His Grace blog.
Local history lies in the context of wider events. On January the thirty-first of 2016, the majority of members belonging to Journey Church, Folsom, California, a PCUSA , church, registered and voted to become charter members in a new denomination. Hope Presbyterian Church of Folsom, a transitional church in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, was formed becoming a part of the Pacific Presbytery of the EPC. This event developed out of the history of the evolving progressive culture in the Presbyterian Church (USA).
My introduction will set the event of a new church plant in the EPC within the history of the PCUSA, the Sacramento Presbytery and the local church, Journey Church of Folsom.
Report of the Theological Task Force of the Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church
The PCUSA and its General Assembly, in an attempt to solve the continuing debate about sexuality versus biblical principles, in 2006, voted to accept the Report of the Theological Task Force of the Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church on the place of homosexuality as well as fornication (the act of unmarried sex) in the lives of those who sought ordination. Although, the authors of the report insisted that it was not local option, the right of different presbyteries and churches to set their own standards, for many local churches and presbyteries it became so.
The Sacramento Presbytery:
Because of the passage of what became known as the PUP Report, the Sacramento Presbytery, still containing many evangelical churches, passed, in 2006, four resolutions to guide the Presbytery:
“1. To promote the peace, unity, and purity of our presbytery, we resolve that the Sacramento Presbytery holds that all candidates for ordination, installation, and/or membership in this Presbytery shall comply with all standards for ordination set forth in the Constitution of the PCUSA, or shall be ineligible for ordination, installation, and/or membership.
- To promote the peace, unity, and purity of our presbytery, we resolve that the Sacramento Presbytery shall not receive into membership, nor recognize as a member, anyone who has been ordained or installed under a scruple (that is taking exception to any of the ordination standards as set forth in the Constitution of the PCUSA.)
- To promote the peace, unity, and purity of our presbytery, we resolve that the Sacramento Presbytery shall honor the protest of every congregation that chooses to exercise its right to withhold its per capita, therefore, only designated congregational per- capita funds shall be used to fulfill presbytery per capita obligations, and presbytery per capita assessments shall not be increased to compensate for such protests.
- To promote the peace, unity, and purity of our presbytery, we resolve that the Sacramento Presbytery shall take no action to enforce any general trust interest claimed against any property, real or personal, held by an individual congregation within the Sacramento Presbytery.”
The resolutions passed. However a complaint was filed against the resolutions by David Thompson, then teaching elder at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Sacramento and teaching elder, at large, Jack McNary. On June the 20, 2007, the Synod of the Pacific overturned the resolutions. At the same time David Thompson and his session ordained two elders who were practicing homosexuals. When members of the presbytery complained a committee was formed to investigate the event. The committee instead of disciplining the pastor and session wrote a letter to Westminster apologizing for the investigation and then made fun of one pastor, on the floor of the presbytery, who complained about the letter.