Four of the churches were from the Presbytery of Charlotte, and a fifth was dismissed from New Hope Presbytery.
The churches in Charlotte were released from the PCUSA – pending completion of the final steps in the dismissal process – during the Oct. 22, 2013, meeting of the presbytery. Two were dismissed to join ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians with the other two seeking alignment with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC).
According to presbytery documents, Banks Presbyterian Church in Marvin and Garden Memorial Church of Charlotte received affirmative votes to petition the EPC for membership, while Westminster Presbyterian Church and Albemarle Road, both in Charlotte, were granted approval to seek membership with ECO.
The EPC web site lists Banks Presbyterian and Garden Memorial among its North Carolina congregations. Westminster and Albemarle Road are shown as ECO churches on the denomination’s web site.
The Rev. Betty Meadows, transitional general presbyter of the Presbytery of Charlotte, noted a loss of relationships with the departure of the four churches.
“The greatest loss will be the relationships that have been formed between congregations and individual members of churches,” Meadows wrote in an email to The Layman. “There is sadness at presbytery meetings with every vote even as we pray for each church and the new relationship with their new denomination.”
The Banks congregation voted June 2, 2013, to seek dismissal from the PCUSA, with 90.5 percent (57 of 63 active voting members) giving approval to leave the denomination. Banks is located east of Charlotte in Union County.
Garden Memorial, located in northern Mecklenburg County, also voted on June 2, with 100 percent of the quorum present voting to leave the PCUSA.
Albemarle Road’s vote for dismissal took place May 20. Of the 154 active members present, 144 (93.5 percent) voted to seek dismissal. The church is in southern Mecklenburg County.
Westminster’s congregational vote for dismissal occurred June 30, and 225 (94.5 percent) of the 238 active members in attendance gave their approval to seek a new denominational affiliation. The church is located in southern Mecklenburg County.
Looking to the future
Meadows expressed sadness at the departure of the congregations and indicated a desire see churches remain united.
“I have always believed that we are stronger together in our differences than when we separate,” she wrote. “One of the strengths of the PCUSA is our umbrella that covers people with widely differing theologies, but who agree to disagree and work side by side with and for the Christ.”
Moving forward, Meadows pointed out that she wants to see the departing churches and those remaining with Charlotte Presbytery thrive in their calls to serve.
“As we pray for each church that is dismissed, we/I pray that they will find a new home, one in which they can thrive and serve the Risen Christ,” Meadows wrote. “The Presbytery of Charlotte is focused not only on a gracious leave policy but on making disciples and being a strong witness for the Risen Christ in the presbytery and beyond. There is much energy and joy in the presbytery as we embrace a future that we believe God is leading us toward. The prayer commitment throughout the presbytery is amazing. The financial giving is increasing.”
A growing list
The latest departures brought the number of congregations dismissed from the Presbytery of Charlotte to nine in 2013 and 15 dating back to May 2012. Other churches dismissed from the presbytery in the last 21 months include:
Bethlehem (EPC) – May 15, 2012
Benton Heights (EPC) – May 15, 2012
Rourk (EPC) – July 21, 2012
McLean (EPC) – July 21, 2012
Siler (EPC) – Oct. 16, 2012
Bethel (ECO) – Oct. 16, 2012
Huntersville (ECO) – Feb. 16, 2013
Ridgecrest (EPC) – Feb. 16, 2013
Troy (EPC) – Feb. 16, 2013
Altan (EPC) – May 15, 2013
Indian Hill (EPC) – July 20, 2013
Englewood Presbyterian Church in Rocky Mount, N.C., was dismissed from the Presbyterian Church (USA) to become part of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) during the Oct. 26, 2013, meeting of New Hope Presbytery.
The dismissal from the PCUSA and acceptance into the EPC became official Dec. 1, 2013.
Englewood, located northeast of Raleigh in the coastal plains of North Carolina, celebrated its 50th anniversary less than a week before its dismissal was approved.
Presbytery documents show that the session of Englewood voted Sept. 20, 2012, to consider dismissal from the presbytery and PCUSA under the policy adopted by New Hope on July 24, 2012. Englewood cited Biblical and theological differences with the PCUSA as reasons for seeking dismissal.
A vote taken during a congregational meeting April 28, 2013, showed nearly 89 percent of the 127 members who cast ballots were in favor of seeking dismissal, setting the stage for meetings between the Presbytery Engagement Team (PET) and a Special Committee of the Congregation (SCC) for Englewood.
Dismissal terms agreed to by the parties were:
- Englewood’s acceptance by an approved Reformed denomination;
- Satisfactory resolution of pastoral status and compensation of Dr. Rob Westlund;
- Payment of $5,000 from a grant received from the Presbyterian Church of the United States (PCUS) in 1965; 2013 per capita of $1,907 (including any amount paid year to date); a one-time contribution of $7,718 to the mission budget of New Hope Presbytery; and up to $500 for direct costs to the presbytery for the gracious dismissal process.
- Payment of $4,000 per year for 10 years, starting in 2014, to the presbytery’s mission budget. Those payments are to be made by Dec. 31 each year.
- Church records are to be turned over to the presbytery to be copied and then returned to the church.
- The church will retain its name.
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