On Sunday (10/27/13), Highland Park Presbyterian Church in Dallas, Texas overwhelmingly voted to “terminate its voluntary affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA),” and join ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.
The vote to leave the PCUSA was 1,337 (89 percent) in favor; 170 (11 percent) against. The vote for joining ECO was 1,335 in favor to 161 against.
Before the vote, Elder Andrew Campbell spoke to the congregation. Following is his address:
FOR THE LOVE OF OUR CHURCH
By Andrew Campbell
I’m Andrew Campbell, an active Elder of this church, and the greatest and most significant moments of my life have happened right here in this sanctuary. Pastor Bill Elliott baptized me here. I married Heather, the love of my life, at this altar. And together we brought our three children – Logan, Bennett and Avery – here to be baptized. I sat in the front pew and grieved the loss of my parents.
Over the years, this beautiful Sanctuary has literally been a sanctuary for me, a safe place. In these pews I have heard the Word of God illuminated. I have bowed my head, bared my soul and prayed for forgiveness a thousand times. I have been renewed by the powerful preaching from our gifted ministers. And so many times, I have felt my spirit soar as I experienced a true communion with Christ.
Through it all, you have been by my side, worshipping our Mighty God. We walk out those doors together to serve in a number of different ministries. Shoulder to shoulder, we brothers and sisters have formed this church – the body of Christ with a unified purpose: making disciples of Jesus Christ. And through this discernment process we all recognize that we are the church – not only this beautiful campus. I love these 4 walls and while they are important, our most important asset is our identity in Christ.
I am a lawyer. Conflict does not unsettle me – I make my living resolving conflicts. But for the past twenty years, the conflict within our church home has been a source of distraction and discomfort for which I have found no solution. And for all our unity of mission, we as a body remain torn apart by the pressures of the very denomination which should be holding us together. At Highland Park Presbyterian Church, our commitment to the Word of God has not changed. The same is not true for the PCUSA, which has become increasingly political, worldly, and confused in its universalist desire to be all things to all people.
Especially for those of us over 40, we have seen the devastating social consequences of turning away from Biblical principle and embracing an ever – eroding moral standard. We see it in every aspect of our lives, and sadly, even at the doorstep of our church. Things are getting worse, and we often feel powerless.
But not today. Today we have the power to make a bold statement about what we believe.
This is not a matter of convenience; it’s a matter of obedience. In all my years here at HPPC, I’ve never been more proud of our church leadership. I am an active elder and honored to be in this elected position. Along with my fellow elders, I took the ordination vows seriously and promised to follow the Lord’s guidance above all else. I see such an inspiring spirit of obedience and humility. Despite our many different agendas and points of view, we have unanimous consent among our Session that leaving the PCUSA and joining ECO is the right thing to do. Unanimous! After so much prayer and discernment, the move to ECO is also supported by our Interim Senior Pastor and 4 out of 5 Associate Pastors, of who were willing to risk so much to speak in support of the change to ECO.
I have sat in amazement as I have witnessed how God has blessed this process beyond my greatest expectation. I have never seen us all so mobilized and unified. We have come a long, long way from 1991. There is just one more step to go.
But it’s a big step. Joining ECO is a call to action. It’s saying, “I am ready to do more. I am ready to join my fellow reformed Presbyterians in planting churches, meeting more needs here at home, and supporting more mission work abroad. And most importantly, I am ready to stand strong and proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord, and his infallible Word alone is my guide.”
We are hardly alone in this move. As congregations all over America leave the PCUSA in ever increasing numbers. Just this week, First Presbyterian Amarillo, led by 2 of our former pastors, Howard Griffin and Murray Gossett, voted to leave the PCUSA with a 96% approval! Here we will find not only friends, but also fellow believers in biblical principle. ECO is not a change for us – it is not more conservative than us. ECO is HPPC – it was formed by churches like us. ECO is a return to Presbyterianism not a departure from it.
The time to change is now. So much is at stake for our church family including our identity, our pastors’ careers, our staff and control of our property.
I’m encouraged because this place I love, and you people that I love, are poised to act in faith together. Today we are truly a church family of brothers and sisters ready to fulfill our calling. I pray that the days of division and uncertainty are over.
Join me on this Reformation Sunday and affirm our Session’s call to change in order to honor our legacy and protect the future for generations to come.