Two big congregations in the PCUSA’s Sacramento Presbytery, Fair Oaks and First Presbyterian, Roseville, voted this past Sunday to disaffilate from the PCUSA and join the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. The Fair Oaks church posted this on their home page:

Sunday, June 8, 2008, marked the beginning of an important, new era of ministry and vision for Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church. At a special called meeting of the congregation, members of FOPC voted to disaffiliate with the PC(USA). 751 official ballots were cast: 741 in favor of the motion, 10 against. The church was received shortly thereafter into the fellowship of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC). Fair Oaks made the move on the same day as its sister church, First Presbyterian, Roseville. The action means that FOPC has expressly ended its voluntary affiliation with the PC(USA) and renounced all jurisdiction of that denomination.

The move comes after many months of leadership by the Fair Oaks Session, including a series of educational meetings and a lengthy period of discernment by the congregation. It also comes after a lengthy period during which Fair Oaks attempted to work in good faith and within appropriate denominational guidelines: In an historic vote on October 14, 2007, the FOPC church family voted overwhelmingly to request that the Sacramento Presbytery dismiss it, with property, to the EPC. Negotiating teams from both FOPC and the Presbytery began work and presented terms of agreement to the Presbytery on December 4. The Presbytery voted overwhelmingly to accept the terms, which included a sizeable ministry gift to the Presbytery, leading the way for Fair Oaks’ departure on January 1.

However, before the dismissal took place, and in actions similar to those across the national denomination, the Synod of the Pacific moved to stay the Presbytery’s vote and has yet to officially rule on the matter. Meanwhile, the Synod later blocked another vote by the Presbytery not to pursue appeals in the civil proceedings. Additionally, the Synod ordered the Presbytery to file “timely appeals” in the cases. In April and May, 2008, both Roseville and FOPC won rulings in California Superior Court declaring that the churches, not the Presbytery, own their real property.

As FOPC begins to write a new chapter in its long history of Kingdom ministry, we ask for your prayers for our friends in the Sacramento Presbytery and her member churches as they seek to continue their work in the PC(USA). We also ask for prayers for the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and our new family of churches as we move forward to labor together for the cause of Christ.

First Presbyterian posted this on theirs:

On Sunday afternoon, June 8th at a congregational meeting, the members of FPC voted to disaffiliate from the PC(USA) and to immediately affiliate with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC). After waiting, working and praying for this over the past 8 months we have finally become an EPC church!

On that same day Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church took the same action.

While there are some remaining pastoral issues to be clarified, the transition was very smooth and rather seamless. The EPC welcomed the church that afternoon and Pastor Jim and Pastor Nancy were received as ordained ministers in the EPC at the same time.

We look forward to working with the New Wineskins Transitional Presbytery and within the Evangelical Presbyterian Church family. Thank you all for your work, prayers, patience and faithfulness.

It’s a pity for the Sacramento Presbytery that the Synod of the Pacific stuck its nose in, since Sacramento was one of those presbyteries that had been gracious in coming to a mutually beneficial agreement with the two congregations. Now, of course, Sacramento will presumably get nothing, and there’s a precedent that can be used by other California Presbyterians if they choose to do so. Well played, Synod.

On the other hand, it is always a joy to welcome new brothers and sisters into the fold. So…

Greetings to the newest members of the EPC!