Largest Presbyterian church in Texas sees hope in new conservative affiliation

hppc logoBy Michael Gryboski

A congregation that was once the largest Presbyterian Church (USA) church in Texas has been encouraged by its new affiliation with a more conservative body.

Highland Park Presbyterian Church of Dallas, which terminated its voluntary affiliation with PC (USA) earlier this year over theological differences, decided to join the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians, (ECO), a recently created and more theologically conservative Reform body.

The Rev. Joe Rightmyer, Highland Park’s interim senior pastor, told The Christian Post that the relationship between his congregation and ECO has been going strong.

“Highland Park Presbyterian Church (HPPC) has had a very active season since it joined ECO on October 28, 2013,” said Rightmyer. “The new relationship between HPPC and ECO has already been encouraging. The theological unity gained by this change has lifted the spirit of HPPC’s congregation.”

Rightmyer also told CP about how “planning has already begun for several joint efforts between HPPC and ECO.”



Comments 3

  • HPPC was an independent Presbyterian Church until the vote to join PCUSA. Now they can throw off the shackles and become an independent church again. Let’s hope it is not too late.

  • I agree with you, Brother Don. Just as a matter of clarification, it was HPPC which initiated the legal proceedings, not Grace Presbytery. I also agree with you that the process of “Just and Gracious Dismissal” is a mis-titled policy.

  • Interesting article. In it, Grace Presbytery’s General Presbyter, Janet DeVries, is quoted as criticizing HPPC for not going through the presbytery’s “Just and Gracious Dismissal Policy”. Ask the members of First Church of Longview, Texas, if that policy is appropriately named.

    The article also suggests that HPPC is moving towards mediation to settle its lawsuit with Grace. I assume that means an eventual monetary settlement? If so, that would be very unfortunate. While it’s understandable that HPPC might choose to make a settlement payment to Grace to (a) end legal expenses, and (b) eliminate the risk of the judge making the wrong decision, such a payment would allow Grace to continue to wield the malicious power of the trust clause. If HPPC were to go all the way in court and win, that clause could be rendered powerless in the state of Texas.

    By the way, I truly wonder if Ms. DeVries and others at Grace, and at other PCUSA presbyteries, feel good about the fact that they have to use legal action and the threats of property seizure to keep congregations from leaving. I can’t imagine they could take pride in what they’re doing.

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