Church in Mt. Lebanon dismissed from local presbytery

Beverly Heights Presbyterian Church was dismissed from the Pittsburgh Presbytery yesterday so it could join a more conservative denomination — the first of what could be several votes over divisive theological and ecclesiastical questions.

The dismissal was the culmination of six months of discussions precipitated by the Mt. Lebanon church’s overwhelming vote in April to leave the Presbyterian Church (USA) for the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

The vote by the presbytery’s clergy and elders was 174 for dismissal and 73 against, with two abstentions.

The action takes effect immediately.

According to the settlement between the presbytery and the 400-member church, Beverly Heights will keep its building and land — together valued at more than $1 million — and the rights to its name.

In exchange, it will pay the presbytery $250,000 over 10 years and forfeit $46,655 in a trust account.

Read it all.


Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Other Churches, Presbyterian

7 comments on “Church in Mt. Lebanon dismissed from local presbytery

  1. anglicanhopeful says:

    Sounds like an amazingly sensible solution. Note the following:
    1. No retribution for joining a ‘competing’ denominational entity
    2. No lawsuit involved
    3. Apparently fair monetary settlement
    4. No clergy are defrocked
    5. Acknowledgement of each other’s convictions, without denigration
    Why cannot this be a model for TECs departing parishes? Bishops are you listening?

  2. Dale Rye says:

    Some Episcopal bishops and dioceses have already followed this model. It is more difficult for us than for a Presbyterian denomination, because they make it easier for a congregation to transfer from one presbytery to another, even when the receiving body is within another Presbyterian denomination. Those procedures were evolved during the series of mergers (each of which had holdouts) that formed the PCUSA. Until or unless the Anglican Instruments of Unity decide otherwise, an Anglican congregation cannot transfer from one diocese or province to another unless it physically moves into the territory of that judicatory.

  3. anglicanhopeful says:

    Dale – are you sure that PCUSA recognizes the presbyteries of EPC? Even if so, this is a darn better model for negotiated departure than what we’re seeing today in places like Virginia and California. The petty lawsuits, defrockings and rather stupid statements made by presiding bishop Schori about who can and cannot purchase TEC property only serve to make us look less Christian to the outside world. And I hope you’re not still arguing in favor of the silly notion that there can be only one Anglican body in one geographic area.

  4. Dale Rye says:

    The congregation was dismissed from its PCUSA presbytery so that it could join an EPC presbytery. I’m not sure the process would have run so smoothly if the congregation had intended to abandon presbyterian principles entirely and become an independent church.

  5. Klein Levin says:

    Dale has a good point:
    [blockquote] I’m not sure the process would have run so smoothly if the congregation had intended to abandon presbyterian principles entirely and become an independent church. [/blockquote]
    For supporting evidence, one has to look no further than to our beloved Episcopal church in its lurching trek away from Anglican principles (as enshrined in the communion’s traditional teachings and agreements made at Lambeth) toward becoming an independent “new thing” church. Now if the General Convention church can please vacate the Anglican premises, as far as I’m concerned they are more than welcome to join any presbytery they’d like. Smooth for everyone involved.

  6. Navorser says:

    Is it not time that the centralised leadership of the church paid more attention to the thoughts of the various congregations and what they desire to do?

  7. Navorser says:

    I ask: was the congregation of Beverley Heights taken into this debate about the dismissal or was it all handled by the upper ‘officers’ of the church organisation?
    If the congregatin was not approached then why not?