By Claire St. Amant, Culture Map Dallas
When Highland Park Presbyterian Church was founded in 1926, the world was a very different place than it is today. The Park Cities property on McFarlin and University boulevards was worth a mere $60,000, and HPPC was a willing member of the Presbyterian Church of the United States.
Fast forward to 2014: The property is worth $30 million, and HPPC has left the national Presbyterian denomination for a smaller, more conservative sect. The Presbyterian Church (USA) believes it should retain ownership of HPPC’s church property, but that isn’t sitting well with Highland Park Presbyterian, which has 4,000 active members and is one of the largest Presbyterian churches in America.
To retain control of the prime Park Cities property, Highland Park Presbyterian is suing Grace Presbytery, the regional affiliate of Presbyterian Church. The pious parties had been engaged in mediation, but those talks broke down last month before a settlement was reached. A jury trial date has been set for October 20, 2014.
It’s a complicated case that, ironically, has much in common with HPPC’s reason for splitting with the Presbyterian Church. It’s all a matter of interpretation.