From the Tulsa World comes the news that Kirk of the Hills, the largest church to leave the PCUSA and join the EPC, has been turned down in court in their effort to keep their property:

In a case that has national interest, Tulsa District Judge Jefferson Sellers ruled that the church property belongs to the Presbyterian Church USA and its Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery, not to the local congregation.

Two years ago, by an overwhelming vote of the congregation, Kirk of the Hills became the largest church to leave the Presbyterian Church USA over concerns that the denomination was drifting from its biblical foundation. Dozens of similar cases exist nationwide.

At that time, the congregation asked the court to affirm its ownership of the multimillion-dollar building, and has continued to meet there.

Kirk of the Hills attorney John O’Connor said the decision will be appealed.

“We’re in this for the long haul,” he said.

Kirk of the Hills co-pastor the Rev. Tom Gray said “We’re disappointed, but certainly we’re not undone by this.

It’s not actually a case of national interest, except to the extent that it involves a very big church. One of the things that has become obvious from cases like this is that every state has its own approach to church property disputes–if the Kirk were here in Virginia, they would very likely have won, given that the congregation held title to the property and provided all the funds for purchase, construction, and maintenance. But it isn’t, and so Oklahoma’s approach, involving deference to “hierarchical” denominations, has prevailed.

Regardless of how this case goes at higher levels, the Kirk has a lot of work to do to ensure that its important ministry to Tulsa continues. Be praying for them in the days ahead.

(Via the Layman Online.)

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