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Enid Presbyterian church is in the midst of split

First Presbyterian Church of Enid is splintering after majority of members recently voted to leave the church's national denomination.
BY CARLA HINTON Published: October 20, 2011

— The majority of members of First Presbyterian Church of Enid have decided to sever ties with the nation's largest Presbyterian denomination.

About 200 of the church's 250 members cast votes on the issue Sunday, said James Bellatti, presbyter of the Cimarron Presbytery, a regional affiliate of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Bellatti said 131 church members voted to leave the denomination, while 69 voted to stay. The nonbinding vote was simply a tally to determine who wanted to stay and who wanted to go, he said.

Two days later, the church's senior pastor, the Rev. Roy Schneider, resigned from his post. In a letter to the congregation, Schneider referenced Amendment 10A to the denomination's constitution, which would allow persons in a same-gender relationship to be considered for ordination or installation as deacons, elders and ministers.

Bellatti said the Cimarron Presbytery has elected an administrative commission to work with the church members who want to remain affiliated with the denomination.

Bellatti said those who choose to leave the denomination may do so, but they must negotiate with the presbytery if they want to retain use of the First Presbyterian Church of Enid property. Under a trust agreement, the denomination retains the rights to the church building, property and any assets, he said.

Pastor's resignation

Schneider declined to comment about his resignation but agreed to fax The Oklahoman a copy of a letter he sent to church members' homes dated Oct. 19.

“FPC Enid is now a deeply wounded church,” Schneider wrote in the letter.

He also wrote that his retirement will become effective at the end of the year and that his last day in the pulpit will be Dec. 18.

The denomination's governing body, the General Assembly, voted in 2010 to change the denomination's constitution to allow the ordination of openly gay and lesbian ministers and lay leaders, while giving regional church bodies the ability to decide for themselves. In May 2011, a majority of the denomination's presbyteries ratified the measure, which was required for it to go into effect.

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