Grace Presbytery dismisses Korean church in Carrollton, Texas

bethanykoreanA Korean Presbyterian church in Texas was dismissed to join ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians during a meeting of Irving-based Grace Presbytery.

According to presbytery documents, Bethany Korean Presbyterian Church was dismissed from the Presbyterian Church (USA) on April 20.

The congregation – comprised of 344 members – voted April 7 to be dismissed to ECO and agreed to settlement terms reached with the presbytery.

Located in Carrollton, a suburb of north Dallas, Bethany Korean sought dismissal to another Reformed body, and a Presbytery Ministry Team (PMT) was assigned to work with the congregation and its leadership.

Several meetings between the Bethany session and PMT revealed concerns that the church was losing members because of the passage of Amendment 10A, which deleted the explicit “fidelity/chastity” requirement from the constitutional ordination standard, and now allows the PCUSA to ordain gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people as deacons, elders and pastors.

Session members also indicated a feeling that the PCUSA will redefine marriage beyond the union of a man and woman in the future, which further may have an impact on the church’s ability to keep or add new members.

Despite an explanation from the PMT regarding the historic Presbyterian principle of local congregations choosing whom they will ordain and call to ministry, and a presentation of the facts of the Book of Order changes regarding 10A, Bethany’s session remained firm in its stance.

Members of the PMT attempted to find a balance between protecting the interests of Bethany Korean and Grace Presbytery, as it outlined in a report to the presbytery that gave settlement terms. That report indicated the terms would compensate “Grace Presbytery for past faithfulness and a desire to have resources to expand and support its future ministries, and Bethany Korean to avoid placing their congregation in financial peril as they move forward.”

Other factors that influenced financial negotiations between the parties were an understanding that Bethany Korean came to the PCUSA as an already functioning congregation and a comfortable estimate that there would be no minority members left interested in maintaining a congregation in the PCUSA.

According to the terms agreed to by both sides, Bethany Korean will pay $270,000 to Grace Presbytery for its financial interest in the property. A lump sum payment of $230,000 was made at the time of dismissal, with a sum of $10,000 to be paid annually for the next four years. If all conditions are met, the PMT plans to recommend at a future presbytery meeting that the payments of $10,000 be forgiven on an annual basis.

In addition to the financial compensation, Bethany Korean’s ordained staff had to provide letters of their acceptance into ECO along with a copy of the church’s formal request to join ECO and a letter of acceptance from that Reformed body. All session records of Bethany, including minutes and rolls, also had to be turned over to Grace Presbytery.

Bethany Korean is the first congregation in Grace Presbytery to be dismissed since the adoption of its Just and Gracious Dismissal Policy in September 2012.


Four dismissals from Great Rivers Presbytery

Great Rivers Presbytery in western Illinois dismissed two churches to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) and two others to reconstitute themselves in late 2012 after working out settlement agreements with Discernment Teams that were approved by the presbytery.

First Presbyterian Church of Princeville, with a membership of 100, was dismissed after agreeing to pay $75,000, and Alexis Presbyterian Church (155 members) agreed to pay $338 semi-annually over 20 years for a total amount of $13,500.

Little Cedar Presbyterian Church and Elvaston Presbyterian Church both were dismissed to reconstitute themselves under Illinois state law. Little Cedar (96 members) was released effective Dec. 1 after paying $15,661, and Elvaston, with a membership of 103, was dismissed effective Dec. 15 after paying $9,960.

All four churches also were required to turn over church records to Great Rivers Presbytery.


Comments 3

  • This is so painful. I have been a life long Presbyterian, the son of a family who’s committment to our denomination predates their migration to the US. I find Calvin so compelling, and yet one of our greatest strengths, God speaking to us through Ordered Groups gathered in his name, generates so much conflict. I am so conflicted. We focus so much on “THAT” issue – sexual preference – that we fail to see that our Lord is concerned about ALL sin, not just that one. And we are all, indeed, sinners. So that is the side that agrees. Now for the conflict – in my sinful life, I made a focused choice to change and turn to God and what he wants for me. I still fail, but that is my focus. I don’t WANT to follow a sinful path. Now, we have said that it’s okay to want to be sinful for THIS particular topic, because they were born that way. Well guess what folks, we were ALL born with a tendency towards sin. In our focus on Grace, we sometimes forget that. So I guess this side of the issue for me is that God also gave us free will so we could choose to try to follow him, or choose to remain in sin. That’s the rub for me.

    I Love all of You and like I said -> this one hurts. Grace and Peace – Mark Snyder

    • Gosh, Mark. You have nearly taken the words directly from my mouth. You are correct in everthing you have said. Everyone knows inside their hearts what their sins are. And although most would never admit it, most Christians know (if they’ve truly studied God’s word) that God hates sex outside of marriage, regardless of the type. Everyone has to answer for themselves before a Holy God for whatever their sin is. My problem with all of this, is with the manipulation of scripture, and the interpretation changed to fit the sin. I’m just amazed at the countless people who allowed this to happen. Educated, Godly men and women who have dedicated their lives to ministry have been deceived, and they in turn are deceiving others. Children born in the future will not be taught about sexual purity and fidelity in the same way that I was. That’s a scary thing. We’ve basically eliminated anything to repent of. I mean, seriously, what else is left besides murder (and even that is questionable) that one should repent from? This Jesus, who changed me completely when I gave my life to Him, isn’t being introduced to sinners anymore, because we have a different Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:4)- one that “loves, and welcomes everyone into his arms” without any infringement on their personal beliefs, habits, or desires. He seems to be a “clay Jesus” and we are the potters. I have been a church musician all of my life, and only for the last four years in a PCUS congregation. I had no choice to resign and disaffiliate as a result of this significant change. In closing, I am thinking of an old hymn with a modern day twist added: ‘Have thine own way, world. Have thine on way. Thou art the potters, I am the clay. Mold Me and make Me, after thy will. While I am waiting, yielded and still.” That is exactly what we have done. Many have quoted Isaiah 5:20 during this argument, with the emphasis being on the words “evil for good/good for evil”. Perhaps if we used the last words of that verse, it might be more fitting and sound less judgmental when applied to this controversy. It uses “bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter”. I imagine that all would agree that sweet would certainly be more palatable than bitter. But just to switch the words without switching the substance would cause quite a surprise when one tasted it.

  • I would like to hear directly from PCUSA as to why they think so many Churches are bowing out of the PCUSA. Do they take any responsibility for this exodus?

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