The Evangelical Presbyterian Church has officially responded to the PCUSA report on the former’s alleged depredations against congregations of the True Church. It starts with the positive, but also notes the presence of allegations for which no evidence was adduced:
A task force report from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) (PCUSA) has determined that an accusation made by its Presbytery of Peace River against the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) regarding the alleged solicitations of congregations is unsubstantiated.
In 2008, the Presbytery of Peace River, a presbytery of the PCUSA, made an overture accusing the EPC, a Protestant Reformed denomination, of “actively pursuing a strategy to persuade Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) churches disaffiliate with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and be dismissed to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.”
The PCUSA Committee on Ecumenical Relations formed a task force to investigate the accusation. The task force made its report public on Thursday, April 22. The leadership of the EPC is grateful that the task force confirmed that there was no evidence to substantiate the accusations of Peace River Presbytery. The EPC also appreciated the report’s call for a better relationship and improved communication between the two Presbyterian denominations.
However, the EPC did have concerns about other findings of the task force’s report. For example, the report states “other leaders from within the EPC were also willing to speak to PCUSA congregations, when a session had invited them in, often showing the PCUSA in a less than flattering light.” The task force had the opportunity to present this finding to EPC leadership in a meeting on January 15, but chose not to. The task force has also provided no supporting evidence for this assertion.
Even though the task force report has been made public, the PCUSA General Assembly has not yet met to review, vote on, or act on the assessments or recommendations of the report. The EPC has decided it would be inappropriate to make any further responses to the report until it has been reviewed, amended (if necessary), and approved by the PCUSA General Assembly, which won’t meet until July.
It’s true that the report said that there is no evidence that the EPC initiated contacts or went looking for congregations to suborn. On the other hand, it also said repeatedly that the EPC was “interfering” in PCUSA internal affairs, even in setting up it own transitional presbytery in an effort to minimize the effects of bringing in large numbers of churches at once. Personally, I don’t have much hope that the PCUSA’s General Assembly is going to amend this to make it any more reasonable, but we’ll see.