Presbyterian Church (USA) regional affiliate votes to dismiss Edmond church

Members of Indian Nations Presbytery, a regional affiliate of the Presbyterian Church (USA), voted Monday to dismiss First Presbyterian Church of Edmond from the denomination, but not without discussion about the monetary terms of the severance.
by Carla Hinton Published: January 29, 2013

Monday, Aaron A. Carland, leader of the Indian Nations Presbytery, said the presbytery had the right to retain First Presbyterian Church of Edmond's church building and property because of a property trust clause in the denomination's constitution — but chose not to.

He said the trust clause is not about “exacting a pound of flesh” from the church but is an expression of the denomination's belief that all denominational congregations are interrelated and unified.

Carland, 66, said he does not think First Presbyterian of Edmond's departure will start a trend of other Presbyterian churches within the presbytery attempting to withdraw from the denomination.

He said leaders of the Edmond church had been unhappy with “a whole host of decisions” made by the denomination for more than a decade.

He said he discussed the matter last year with several members of the Edmond church and agreed with them that a change was in order.

“I said ‘I think it's time. You have been giving a lot of attention to ecclesiastical political battles and that saps the life out of you,'” Carland said. “I feel very strongly that the time had come, and I wish the congregation well.”

Other departures

Meanwhile, First Presbyterian Church of Edmond is one of several Presbyterian churches across the nation requesting departure from the Presbyterian Church (USA) in the last two years.

According to published reports, in March 2012, almost 90 percent of the membership of First Presbyterian Church of Colorado Springs voted for “gracious dismissal” from the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Church leaders said they wanted to distance themselves from the denomination because of Scripture disagreements. Like First Presbyterian of Edmond, the church voted to align with the Evangelical Covenant Order.

The Colorado Springs church also agreed to make a payment to its presbytery, the Pueblo Presbytery, of between $650,000 and $700,000, based on church membership for five years.

A majority of members of First Presbyterian Church of Enid voted to sever ties with the denomination in October 2011.

Church members who voted to part ways with the denomination left and formed a new church called Westminster Presbyterian, which meets in the Enid Seventh-day Adventists building.

In October 2011, Parkway Presbyterian Church in Cumming, Ga., completed the process to gain dismissal from the Presbyterian Church (USA) to join the Evangelical Presbyterian Church denomination.

Leaders at both the Colorado Springs and Georgia church cited the denomination's decision to allow presbyteries to ordain gay people as clergy as among the reasons for their departure and leaders at First Presbyterian Church of Edmond also listed the gay clergy ordination issue as one of the reasons the congregation sought to withdraw from the main church body.

by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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