According to the Presbyterian (PCUSA) News Service, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church is now under investigation. The charge: actually having the gall to open our doors to those who believe that their former denomination has strayed from the path of Reformed orthodoxy:
A task force has begun looking into the conduct of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) in its dealings with Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregations that have left the PC(USA) for the EPC.
The task force was named by the General Assembly Committee on Ecumenical Relations (GACER) in response to an overture to the 218th PC(USA) General Assembly (2008) that was referred to the GACER. The overture requested that the assembly “investigate the actions and conduct of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church …”
The assembly’s action grows out of the Assembly’s concern that the EPC is “actively pursuing a strategy to persuade Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) churches to disaffiliate with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and be dismissed to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.”
As I noted at the time this was passed, the overture upon which this action is based, which originated with the Peace River Presbytery in Florida, is founded on paranoia and deliberate misrepresentation of EPC actions. Hopefully, the task force will meet once, look at the evidence, and respond, “you have got to be kidding.” But I’m not going to hold my breath.
The task force has identified nine presbyteries that have direct experience with PC(USA) congregations that have been dismissed to the EPC or are in conversation about leaving the PC(USA).
I guess they can’t get to all the presbyteries where PCUSA has lost congregations to the EPC in the last four years. According to the PresbyLaw web site, there are at least 33: Pittsburgh, St. Andrews, Heartland, Sacramento, Peace River, Western Reserve, New Covenant, South Louisiana, Mississippi, Northern New England, Western North Carolina, Redstone, Cascades, Eastminster, Beaver-Butler, Philadelphia, Donegal, Blackhawk, Great Rivers, Mission, Washington, North Alabama, Muskingum Valley, Wabash Valley, Missouri River Valley, East Tennessee, Eastern Oklahoma, Milwaukee, Ohio Valley, Hudson River, John Knox, Minnesota Valleys, and Des Moines–and those are just the ones that I can figure out (the list is a bit confusing).
The group has begun visits in pairs to the nine presbyteries for face-to-face interviews with presbytery staff, as well as leaders and members of congregations that have left (or are considering leaving) and “loyalist” leaders and members of those same congregations that have remained part of the PC(USA).
The nine presbyteries are Eastminster, Northern Alabama, Peace River (which submitted the overture leading to the action of last year’s General Assembly), Pittsburgh, Redstone, Sacramento, South Louisiana (and Synod of the Sun), Wabash Valley, and Western Carolina.
Hmm. Maybe they don’t have the resources to do all of them, especially since the task force only includes five members, with one staff person from GACER assisting. If that’s the case, they really should have included Heartland, where some of the most egregious persecution of a departing congregation has taken place. They should also have included a couple like Beaver-Butler and Philadelphia, where amicable agreements should be a model for the denomination, and where the principles can also testify to the absurdity of the Peace River overture.