Menlo Park votes overwhelmingly to leave PCUSA, join ECO

ECOMembers of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, Calif., voted by a 93 percent margin Sunday to leave the Presbyterian Church (USA) and join ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians, despite a price tag of more than $8.89 million.

Approximately 64 percent of MPPC’s members participated in the March 2 vote, with 2,024 voting to leave the PCUSA and 158 voting to oppose the motion.

Speaking to the congregation following the announcement of the voting results, Senior Pastor John Ortberg said, “To everybody who voted a different way or whether the outcome of the vote is a disappointment, we — the church — want you to know we are so grateful for your participation and for your involvement.”

He continued, “For everybody who served from all the churches in the presbytery, everybody that is a part of the PCUSA, our commitment is that we want to honor the body of Christ and love every member of the body of Christ and partner with everybody in a way that transcends denomination affiliation or any human organizational barrier, lift up the oneness of the beauty of Jesus’ church.”

San Francisco Presbytery has set the price for Menlo Park to leave the PCUSA with all of its property and assets at $8.89 million.

mppclogoThe exit fee was set following negotiations between a team from the church and the presbytery. Updating the congregation on Jan. 26, Ortberg said that two days before, “knowing the full dollar amount, our elders and ordained staff voted unanimously to move ahead with a vote and recommend to you – our congregation – that we seek dismissal.”

He added that the church’s negotiating team wanted the congregation to know that “they are even more convinced at the end of this process than they were at the beginning that we need to seek dismissal.”

An article written by Sandy Brundage and posted on The Almanac web site, quoted Tom Conrad, chair of the presbytery team selected to deal with Menlo Park. Conrad, said that “such an overwhelming pro-dismissal vote” had not been expected.

Conrad said the presbytery team “is just happy that it is over and that the congregation has spoken its collective will.”

In the Almanac article, Conrad said that he didn’t expect the outcome to be reversed when the Presbytery of San Francisco meets next week, but suggested the issue might prove more contentious than one might think.

Ortberg ended Sunday’s service by asking the congregation to stand and read the words “We have been living with for this whole season. So with great devotion to Jesus, with great anticipation of what lies in front of us … God is really leading us somewhere. We put our stake in the ground right here: ‘Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.’” (Eph. 3:20-21)


Related stories

Menlo Park pastors offer to give up homes to pay presbytery, Feb. 6, 2014

Menlo Park to vote on leaving PCUSA; price tag set at $8.8 million, Jan. 30, 2014

Tell Me This Isn’t About the Money, Oct. 22, 2013

Toddler Property Laws and the PC(USA) Trust Clause, Oct. 23, 2013

Introducing ECO: the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians, Jan. 19, 2012


Comments 9

  • The loveless attitude of the presbytery for the believers of Menlo Park evoked a memory – the character of Big Dan Teague in this clip from the Cohen Brother’s claasic film, “O’ Brother, Where Art Thou?”

  • Isn’t his Extortion? I guess the PCUSA can survive a little longer on the money taken from the Saints in Menlo Park.

  • You got to wonder what it is they are buying at such a price tag. Is it tangible? Is it about doing something they could not do before? Or saying something they could not say before? Or believing something they could not believe before? Were they being meddled with in some unacceptable way? Did they have too much autonomy, or too little? Seriously, what?

    • What are they buying at such a price tag?


      Freedom from being unequally yoked in ministry with those who do not share their common belief that the Bible is so inspired by the Holy Spirit to be reliable at the very least in what it says regarding faith and morals.

      Freedom from being unequally yoked in ministry with those who cannot unequivocally say that salvation from sin is not possible apart from explicit faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

      Freedom from being unequally yoked in ministry with those who are more than willing to compromise on the Bible’s teachings regarding sexual morality.

      Freedom from being unequally yoked in ministry with those who promise to “sincerely receive and adopt the essential tenets of the Reformed faith,” but stubbornly refuse to identify what those essential tenets are.

      • Loren, it is very presumptuous of you to try and speak for Menlo Park. Your answer sounds more like the fantasy of someone who feels trapped. But I’d like to hear it from a member of Menlo Park that they felt “yoked” at all, equally or unequally. Yoked in what way? Folks from that part of the world are some of the highest achievers on the planet. They have resources you can’t imagine. Maybe so much so that Four Thousand dollars a head seemed like pocket change. They can and have moved mountains on a regular basis. Freedom is not an issue in that part of the world. It’s a given.

        Surely somebody out there from Menlo Park is brave enough to venture an answer to the question: What did they buy that they did not already have?

  • Leaving the PCUSA is so important to this congregation that they are willing to pay over $4,000 per voting member to disaffiliate. Blessings on them; shame on San Francisco Presbytery.

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