From the PCUSA’s Presbytery of the Cascades comes word of an agreement between the presbytery and 2000-member Sunset Presbyterian Church in Portland, Oregon, that will allow the latter to leave with its property for the EPC. According to the Layman Online:
During congregational meetings on Oct. 12, 19 and 26, Sunset’s members voted on the proposal to seek dismissal to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. The presbytery will vote on the proposal during its Nov. 7-8 meeting at First Presbyterian Church in Portland. The congregation does not plan to release the results until the presbytery meets.
The joint agreement was drafted by the presbytery’s Resolution Team and the congregation’s Denominational Discussion Team, a body appointed by the session. The elders had voted unanimously to seek dismissal from the presbytery.
Acknowledging many occasions when the presbytery provided financial help for the congregation, the agreement calls for financial commitments by Sunset to:
•Help underwrite some of the presbyteries administrative costs through three annual payments of $41,000 – a total of $123,000.
•Make seven contributions of $45,000 a year to support presbytery missions – a total of $315,000.
What I find especially striking about this proposal is this paragraph:
The agreement includes this statement: “We are fully aware that these proposals will not meet the expectations of many members of the Presbytery and Sunset; that these proposals call mutually on Sunset and the Presbytery to make material sacrifices; and to risk setting precedent for other churches departing to EPC from the Presbytery. In making this agreement we acknowledge that we have fundamental differences over the interpretation of the Constitution of the PCUSA and grounds for determination of these differences by civil courts. However, we share the belief that Scripture calls us to seek in all humility to resolve our disagreements and avoid the harm that is done to the Gospel and the Church universal when Christians find themselves resorting to civil litigation and witness to their brokenness rather than the love of neighbor and of enemies that Christ commands us to practice.”
Now that is the attitude that should be characterizing these discussions as they take place in presbyteries across the country. Kudos to both teams for this formulation, and here’s praying that this settlement will be agreeable to both church and presbytery.