A pair of congregations from Los Ranchos Presbytery in California was dismissed to affiliate with ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians during a presbytery meeting on June 7.
The presbytery approved the joint solutions for Christ Presbyterian Church (CPC) in Huntington Beach and Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church (GSPC) in Los Alamitos. Los Ranchos has approved five joint solutions for five churches since May 31.
A congregational meeting to accept the terms of the joint solution approved by Los Ranchos will take place June 15 at 10 a.m. for Good Shepherd. Details for Christ’s congregational meeting to accept the terms of the joint solution were not available.
The Los Ranchos Property Policy and Procedures requires that sessions of congregations elect representatives to unite with presbytery representatives to form a Joint Discernment Team (JDT) to develop a “joint solution” to the request for dismissal.
The sessions voted to accept the terms in the presbytery’s joint solution process, and now congregational meetings for votes to accept or reject the terms are necessary. The Los Ranchos Property Policy and Procedures indicates that if the session and congregation do not accept the terms in the joint solution, the offer is rejected, and the expectation is that the congregation normally will not seek dismissal again for at least three years.
There is a 90-day window for any judicial challenges regarding the dismissals.
There are still least six other churches are engaged in the presbytery’s joint solution process at this time. First readings on joint solutions took place May 29 for the Christ Lakewood, Community Long Beach, Cornerstone, Journey and Wintersburg congregations. St. Paul in Anaheim also is part of the joint solution process.
The terms of the joint solution for dismissal to ECO for Good Shepherd, a congregation of 607 members, include payment of a lump sum of $240,000 and acceptance of a five-year reverter clause that allows the presbytery to reclaim the property if the congregation leaves ECO or fails to be part of a Reformed body.
Following a five-month period of discernment, the Good Shepherd session informed the presbytery of its intent to seek dismissal from the PCUSA on July 30, 2013.
The church had been receiving reports from a team charged with studying issues such as the theological drift and changing of ordination standards within the PCUSA for about 20 years prior to the decision to seek dismissal.
There also was a sense of call and ministry priorities for the Good Shepherd congregation that did not seem to be headed in the same direction of the denomination. GSPC bases its ministry on help people come to know Jesus, becoming disciples for Jesus and realizing the Lordship of Christ in their lives. But the PCUSA offered a broad range of what it considered ministry, and Good Shepherd found more of a theological commonality with ECO, which ultimately led to the decision to seek dismissal.
Good Shepherd has a denominational discernment page on its web site that offers information about the process followed to leave the PCUSA.
Christ, which has 462 members, also has a discernment page on its web site that outlines its rationale for seeking dismissal from the national denomination. Terms of its joint solution to leave the PCUSA were not available.