DALLAS, Sept. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The leadership body of Highland Park Presbyterian Church (HPPC) unanimously adopted a resolution that it believes God has called HPPC to terminate its voluntary affiliation with the Presbyterian Church, PC(USA), and seek affiliation with ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.
The vote by HPPC's 49-member Session begins a process of discernment in which the church's congregation will discuss the possibility of changing Presbyterian denominations before ultimately voting on the matter.
That vote is scheduled for October 27 and is to be preceded by a series of meetings and discussions with members of the congregation so that they can learn more about the reasons the Session is recommending the change. They include: the PC(USA)'s lack of core theological beliefs; disagreement over the authority of Scripture and salvation through Jesus Christ alone; and the impact of PC(USA) governance policy and practices on the life of HPPC, particularly on the selection process for new pastors.
"We are not walking away from our Presbyterian values; we are preserving them," said Rev. Joe Rightmyer, interim senior pastor of HPPC. "This decision by our church leadership was not taken lightly. We have watched as the national denomination has turned away from some of the fundamental values that have been central to our local congregation for the last 90 years. We have reached the point that the changes imposed by the PC(USA) have become a distraction that hinders the mission of our church."
The Session also voted unanimously to appoint a negotiating team to continue to reach out to the PC(USA)'s district agency, Grace Presbytery, in order to explore an amicable resolution of the lawsuit HPPC's Board of Trustees brought earlier in September. At that time, a state district court judge granted a temporary restraining order providing civil court protection to prevent the PC(USA) through Grace Presbytery from attempting an immediate seizure of HPPC property and provide a window of opportunity to discuss HPPC's future without the threat of imminent retaliation. Shortly before a scheduled hearing in the state district court, the lawyers for Grace Presbytery removed the lawsuit to Federal Court.
On Sept. 24, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Jane J. Boyle, finding that "HPPC demonstrated good cause to extend the TRO," granted HPPC's motion to extend the protection provided by the TRO. Judge Boyle also granted HPPC's request for expedited consideration of HPPC's motion to remand the lawsuit to the state district court agreeing with HPPC to "the need to promptly resolve questions as to [the Federal] Court's subject matter jurisdiction." A hearing on whether the case will remain in federal court is scheduled for October 7.
Founded in 1926, Highland Park Presbyterian Church is a group of Christian believers located in Dallas, Texas, whose mission is to make disciples of Jesus Christ and to make a difference in the world for the glory of God through "Core Four" practices: Worship God, Grow in Christ, Build Community, and Bless the World. HPPC offers four unique types of worship services in the reformed Presbyterian tradition: a service for wholeness and communion, two traditional sanctuary services, a contemporary service, an international service with African influences and a new worship community for Mandarin-speaking Chinese. More information is available at http://www.hppc.org.
SOURCE Highland Park Presbyterian Church