In what sounds like an amicable, indeed model parting of the ways, Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church has been dismissed by the Presbytery of East Tennessee (PCUSA) to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. According to the Layman Online:

Expressing “deep regret and sorrow,” the Presbytery of East Tennessee has voted overwhelmingly to dismiss the 1,965-member Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church from the Presbyterian Church (USA) to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church with all its property.

“Considering and weighing all factors, including the absence of any identifiable PCUSA remnant in Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church,” an administrative review committee stated in its report to the presbytery, the committee “concludes that the Presbytery of East Tennessee should, with deep regret and sorrow, dismiss Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church with all its property, real or personal, without condition.”

In response to what they called an overwhelming vote during a called presbytery meeting May 29 at Farragut Presbyterian Church in Farragut, the elders and trustees of Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church said in a statement posted on the church’s Web site that:

“Most of all, we thank our Lord and our God for His continued leading of Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church in all times past and throughout this process. In Him we find our strength, our hope, our comfort, our peace and our salvation, and we give Him all honor, glory and praise for our new place in ministry.”

“The goal of the presbytery and Signal Mountain Church during the entire process,” the elders and trustees stated, “was to discern the will of God and to respect and bless one another as the Body of Christ in seeking His will.

“Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church will now begin the process of being received into the EPC to continue her call to share the Good News of Jesus Christ from her home on Signal Mountain to the far corners of the earth.

“The elders and trustees express our deep appreciation for the prayers of the congregation and others, and we ask you to continue to pray with us for the Lord’s guidance as we move into a new era of ministry for Signal Mountain Church.”

There were five recommendations from the presbytery’s administrative commission that were accepted as part of the dismissal action:

1. That Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church be dismissed from the Presbytery of East Tennessee, Presbyterian Church (USA), with property, real and personal (i.e., all assets), to the Presbytery of the Southeast of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, effective immediately upon receipt by the stated clerk of the Presbytery of East Tennessee of notification of acceptance of Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church by the stated clerk of the Presbytery of the Southeast of the EPC; said dismissal being contingent upon no other conditions.

2. That the Presbytery of East Tennessee accept the following covenant: That after dismissal, Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church will, without condition, continue to provide mission support to the Presbytery of East Tennessee in the amount of $500,000, payable over a period of five years, as follows:

  • 2007 – $150,000.
  • 2008 – $125,000.
  • 2009 – $75,000.
  • 2010 – $75,000.
  • 2011 – $75,000.

3. That the Presbytery of East Tennessee accept the following covenant: That Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church honor the terms of call, in their entirety, for any associate pastor(s) who wishes to remain in PCUSA, for a period of time not to exceed one year, from the effective date of dismissal, or until such time as said associate pastor(s) secures a call to another congregation or ministry, whichever time is less.

4. The administrative review committee will recommend to the presbytery’s Committee on Ministry that any associate pastor(s) remaining in PCUSA be granted a time of transition to work at Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church, for the period from the effective date of dismissal until no later than Oct. 1, 2007; said period to allow for completion of previous obligations and tasks; graceful farewells, etc.

5. That the congregation of Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church be allowed to retain the name, “Signal Mountain Presbyterian Church.”

It’s very generous of SMPC to continue to provide mission support over the next five years–as long as that wasn’t the “price of dismissal,” that’s a wonderful thing for them to do, since their problem was with the presbytery but with the denomination. It sounds like there’s at least one associate pastor who wants to remain in PCUSA, and if so, may God bless his ministry there. I’ll be looking forward to meeting with Signal Mountain folks at the next EPC General Assembly they attend, whether next month’s or next year’s. Welcome, brothers and sisters!

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