They are both in Illinois, one a member of the Blackhawk Presbytery, the other a member of Great Rivers. At Kishwaukee Church in Blackhawk, the vote was nearly unanimous, according to the Layman Online:
The congregation of Kishwaukee Community Presbyterian Church in Stillman Valley, Ill., voted nearly unanimously June 24 to request dismissal from the Presbyterian Church (USA) and to seek membership in the smaller, more conservative Evangelical Presbyterian Church.
Two hundred and fifty-three of the church’s 407 members took part in the vote, said the church’s senior pastor, the Rev. Eric Geil. Of those:
- 251 voted to request dismissal from the PCUSA, with two voting to stay.
- 252 voted to pursue membership in the EPC, and one was opposed.
The results were nearly identical to an anonymous straw poll taken at a recent town hall-style congregational meeting to discuss dismissal. Of the 261 in attendance who voted, 259 favored joining the EPC, Geil said.
“The two that said they wanted to stay, in discussions they came forward and let us know who they were even though it was anonymous,” he said. “They said it was just because they were afraid of losing the property.”
That, sad to say, is an eminently reasonable concern, though it sounds like Blackhawk will be reasonable. According to Rev. Geil:
Future discussions between Kishwaukee Church and Blackhawk Presbytery will address the property issue. In exchange for being dismissed with its property, the church has made a $50,000 “friendship offering” that represents five years of per-capita payments to the presbytery, Geil said. Presbytery trustees will discuss the offer after presbytery commissioners address the church’s June 24 vote, he said.
Hopefully that won’t place an excessive burden on the people of the Kishwaukee congregation. Meanwhile, at First Presbyterian Church of Quincy, the vote was closer, but still decisive:
The congregation of First Presbyterian Church in Quincy, Ill., voted by a large margin June 24 to leave the Presbyterian Church (USA) for the smaller, more conservative Evangelical Presbyterian Church, said the church’s pastor, the Rev. Rodney J. Bakker.
Two hundred and fifteen of the church’s estimated 400 members voted. Of those, 162 – or 75 percent – voted to seek dismissal to the EPC and 53–or 25 percent–voted to remain in the PCUSA.
The reason for the congregational action was typical, and included a refusal on the part of the presbytery to make a statement against the loosening of ordination standards:
Several local meetings followed the general assembly, and the church session co-sponsored an overture asking Great Rivers Presbytery to affirm the constitutional ordination standards. The overture failed on a 74-72 vote.
“I tell you, if there was a straw that broke the camel’s back, that was it,” Bakker said. However, he added, “In truth, it’s just 25 years of accumulated frustration that led the session to bring this resolution before our congregation.”
Great Rivers won’t dismiss the church to a transitional presbytery, so First will seek to enter the EPC directly. Again, it will come at a price:
Bakker said he received a letter three weeks ago from the presbytery stating that if his church is dismissed with its property, the presbytery wants $550,000 in return. The session has not yet met to respond to the letter, he said.
That’s a nice facility you’ve got there, folks. Be a pity if anything happened to it.