The number of churches from Charlotte Presbytery that have left or engaged in the process of leaving the Presbyterian Church (USA) in the last two years is at least a dozen with the May dismissal of Altan Presbyterian Church.
Located in Monroe, east of Charlotte in Union County, N.C., Altan was founded in 1893. The 69-member congregation led by Pastor William Wiley was dismissed to join the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) during the May 21 stated meeting of Charlotte Presbytery.
In a joint response to The Layman, Altan’s session indicated that the process of dismissal took about two years to complete.
The session, by unanimous vote, approved a motion to leave the PCUSA in April 2011. After a lengthy delay due to turmoil and turnover within the presbytery, Acting General Presbyter Timm High met with the session to determine if it still was interested in pursuing dismissal in July 2012, and elders indicated later that month their desire to proceed with the gracious separation process.
In seeking a new denominational affiliation, session members met with EPC representatives in August 2012 and those from ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians in October 2012, the same month the presbytery adopted a revised dismissal process.
In November 2012, Altan’s session voted unanimously to move forward with dismissal under the revised policy and expressed a desire to seek alignment with the EPC.
After receiving approval for transitional membership to the EPC, Altan’s congregational vote to leave the PCUSA and unite with the EPC was unanimous by those active members who cast ballots.
Since the congregational vote yielded a result of more than 90 percent in favor of departure, Altan was dismissed with property intact. Session members indicated the delay probably was part of God’s plan for the church.
The session response sent to The Layman indicated that Altan did not agree with liberal policies that have been adopted by the General Assembly (GA). An increasing level of frustration brought on by growing differences with the PCUSA for a number of years led to the decision to leave a denomination with beliefs that differed greatly from those of Altan.
Session members indicated that the process began in a frustrating manner because of the lack of a response from the presbytery after elders sent their letter requesting dismissal. Following the meeting with High, the process moved smoothly and was amicable.
Altan has experienced growth since the beginning of 2013, with a number of people joining the church and many others visiting. Members also have become involved in activities outside regular worship services.
The church was granted full membership to the EPC during a worship service Aug. 25.
“We are relieved this process is behind us, and we were able to leave the PCUSA with our property intact,” read the joint statement from Altan’s session. “We are excited about moving forward with a denomination that shares our beliefs.
“We have been Altan Presbyterian Church for 120 years. We look forward to another 120 years of service to God.”