A Texas megachurch has overwhelmingly voted to part ways with Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) over the denomination's liberal theological, social and political views, with 87 percent of members overwhelmingly voting to terminate its relationship with the denomination.
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The First Presbyterian Church (FPC) San Antonio, which has more than 2,000 members, has decided to join ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians, an alternative denomination that continues to grow as churches leave Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) due to debate over a variety of theological issues.
"We believe our denomination is not what it once was, and it has wandered from its biblical and confessional moorings," the letter read. "We are not alone in this belief. Hundreds of churches have left the PC(USA) in recent years and many others, like FPC, currently are in the process of determining how to respond to denominational changes."
Due to denominational issues, First Presbyterian Church officials said that the house of worship had been losing members and that it was time to act, outlining, in detail, why leaders there are so concerned over Presbyterian Church (U.S.A)'s stance on a variety of issues.
"The Session is concerned, however, that the PC(USA) has taken actions to move away from foundational values found in Scripture and expressed in our Confessions, and has embraced a less orthodox theology, along with a more political ideology," the document explained.
Among the issues of concern: the authority of scripture, centrality of Jesus as Lord and savior, mission, leadership, denominational decline, denominational claim of property control and consequences of changes within the denomination.
As for scripture, First Presbyterian Church leaders believe that changes in language water down the requirement that ordained ministers remain obedient to the Bible; there are also concerns over how the denomination tackles the nature of Jesus Christ.
"While our Confessions and the document Hope in the Lord Jesus Christ both affirm Jesus as 'The only Savior and Lord,' there is evidence of a greater diversity of views on Jesus and his unique power to save," the document read. "In a 2011 denominational survey, nearly 60 percent of PC(USA) members and 23% of pastors agreed or were neutral on the statement, 'All the world’s different religions are equally good ways of helping a person find ultimate truth.'"
Read more about the denomination's grievances here.
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It is unclear what will happen next, as First Presbyterian Church is being accused by Mission Presbytery, a group that oversees congregations within the denomination, of not following protocol when holding its vote, according to an official who spoke with the Christian Post.
"[The vote] was called and held in a manner that is not consistent with the requirements of the constitution of our denomination," Mission Presbytery Interim Stated Clerk William C. Poe told the outlet. "I communicated with the Session, or local council, of the church on more than one occasion prior to the day of the vote to inform the church's officers of this constitutional difficulty, but they chose to continue with the meeting anyway."
He continued, "Presbyterian Ruling Elders and Teaching Elders take vows at their ordination to 'be governed by our church's polity,' and to 'abide by its discipline.' That was not done in this case."
As TheBlaze previously reported, other churches have also had qualms over gay marriage and other theological issues, with Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California, agreeing last year to pay millions to separate from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) denomination.
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the nation's largest Presbyterian denomination, voted earlier this year to change the definition of marriage to allow for the inclusion of same-sex couples — an act that has further exacerbated problems with some of its more conservative churches.
It is among three mainline denominations, including the United Church of Christ and the Episcopal Church, that have officially embraced same-sex nuptials.
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