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Reasons vary for churches to part with denominations

Several Oklahoma churches over the last dozen years have parted ways with their denominations, citing a variety of reasons.
by Carla Hinton Modified: January 25, 2013 at 4:13 pm •  Published: January 26, 2013

Falk said it has been exciting working with the new denomination. He said the church's attendance has grown and it is trying to establish more global connections.

When asked if he thought Peace Lutheran lost some members over the fracture, Falk said there were some people who chose to attend church elsewhere.

“Some folks felt that they need to join another congregation, particularly some folks who agreed with the decision that our church body made (regarding ordination of pastors in same-sex relationships),” Falk said.

“Ultimately, the point is to try to remain faithful to God's leading and faithful to God's word and where He's leading us as a congregation.”

Disagreement over biblical principles: Members of Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church in Tulsa voted in August 2006 to disaffiliate from the Presbyterian Church (USA).

The congregation was later ordered by a district court judge to pay the denomination $1.75 million to retain its property at 4102 E 61.

Church members cited their perception that the denomination had “moved away from strict biblical principals” as reasons for their vote.

They said another factor was the denomination's decision to grant ordaining bodies greater leeway in determining candidates' fitness for ordination. This week, a church spokeswoman declined to comment on the matter, but said church members are happy at present.

Ordination of openly gay clergyman: The majority of St. James Episcopal Church in south Oklahoma City left the Episcopal Church USA in May 2004 and formed their own church, St. James Anglican Church. Leaders of the group that decided to leave said the denomination decision to ordain an openly gay man as bishop was reason for their leaving.

The congregation, meeting at 204 SW 104, is affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America.

Doctrinal difference and women's roles: In September 2001, First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City voted to end its 87-year affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention. The church's then senior pastor, the Rev. Jeffry Zurheide, citied dissatisfaction with recent Southern Baptist actions concerning doctrine and women's roles. The church, 1201 N Robinson, is affiliated with the moderate Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, but remains part of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. At the time, Zurheide, who is now deceased, criticized the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message, a doctrinal platform adopted by the SBC. He also said First Baptist's leaders disagreed with the SBC's opposition to women serving as pastors and its requirement that wives “submit graciously” to their husbands.

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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