A Washington County court has ruled that members of a Peters church who left the Presbyterian Church (USA) for a more theologically conservative denomination can sue Washington Presbytery to keep the congregation's property.
In November, members and leaders of Peters Creek United Presbyterian Church voted 207-26 to leave the Presbyterian Church (USA) and join the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. They filed suit to keep the property. Washington Presbytery, the local governing body for the Presbyterian Church (USA), argued that the denomination's constitution gives control of church property to the presbytery, and that a civil court did not have the authority to interpret or overrule church law.
In a separate decision, Judge Paul Pozonsky did not permit a minority from the congregation who wanted to stay in the Presbyterian Church (USA) to become a party to the lawsuit. He ruled that the minority, which the presbytery has declared the "true church" at Peters Creek, was already adequately represented by both Washington Presbytery and the current leadership of the congregation.