Worthy Christian News » Christian » Megachurch Pays to Part From Fellow Presbyterians
By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent
WASHINGTON D.C. (Worthy News)-- A large Christian congregation will spend nearly $8 million to separate from a denomination that has increasingly embraced a liberal theology, according to TheBlaze.
Nearly 90 percent of the congregation of Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Dallas, Texas, voted in October to leave the Presbyterian Church (USA) and join the theologically orthodox Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians. But to retain its church property after officially leaving its former denomination, the congregation will have to pay it $7.8 million.
In its lawsuit with Grace Presbytery -- a governing body of Presbyterian churches -- Highland Park decided to settle, thereby avoiding the legal contentions that had previously vexed the Episcopal Church. As the smallest mainline denomination in Christendom, TEC lost thousands of members because of its unorthodox theology and heavy-handed leadership under Presiding Bishop Kate Schori.
According to a statement by PC(USA), the $7.8 million will allow for "a release of [Highland Park's] obligations under the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s trust clause and ecclesiastical dismissal from the denomination." The denomination's clause calls for all church properties to be held in trust in order to benefit the entire PC(USA) denomination.
Highland Park's exit comes after California's Menlo Park Presbyterian Church also voted to leave PC (USA) over similar theological disagreements. In a document published last year, Menlo Park's leaders stated that their "evangelical identity around who Jesus is and our understanding of the authority of scripture are increasingly out of alignment" with the remainder of the Presbyterian denomination.
The Menlo Park congregation expressed concerns that many PC(USA) leaders do not believe in the deity of Jesus, or in a salvation exclusively through Him. Both beliefs are considered central tenets of mainstream orthodox Christianity.
The Menlo Park document also cited a 2011 survey of PC(USA) pastors who were queried about their agreement with the statement that only followers of Jesus Christ can be saved; while 41 percent agreed, 45 percent disagreed.