Thursday, August 28, 2008

EPC Londonderry NH now Orchard Christian

Layman Story: Londonderry group changes its name to Orchard Christian They lost the building to the minority. New Web site

Kirk Hearing Rescheduled Sept 9 (Tue)

The hearing has been reset for 9/9/08 at 1:30 PM (according to the Official Court Website).

Conference Call with all Parties agreed to the new date.

I was notified around 8:30 *PM* Wed night that is was "canceled" due to "Administrative Conflict", by subscribing to the Kirk email list, even though I don't live there and am not a member...

Layman Article: New hearing date in Kirk property dispute is Sept. 9

BTW I am planning to attend this trial and will blog results as soon after the trial that I can. The Tulsa library has free Wi-fi "next door" to the courthouse.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Third lawsuit in Peters Creek PC saga.

Pittsburgh Post Gazette Story: Minority sues to regain Peters Presbyterian church


  1. Peters church mulls leaving presbytery - Gets injunction to bar seizure
  2. Presbytery sues Pastor and Treasurer
    "Presbytery says it, not court, should decide property dispute"
  3. Minority try to join suit 2 - denied
  4. Minority sues the majority:
    • to remove the officers of the Peters Creek EPC
    • return all property to control of the PCUSA
    • the vote to secede violated the laws of the Presbyterian Church (USA)
    • violates a Pennsylvania law that says church property must be governed according to church law.


  • The US Supreme Court ruling probably invalidates the PA law.
  • The PCUSA can not make a "law" only rules.
  • The Peters EPC church (and its members) exists separately from PCUSA and can not be governed by PCSUA.
  • The first decision is how much the court is to be involved (hierarchical vs neutral)
  • The second decision then is who owns the property.

Does the minority really think the majority will come home withe their tails between their legs if the court rules against them? Does the minority expect them to rejoin PCUSA?


Peters Creek PC

Washington Presbytery

Monday, August 25, 2008

FPC Opelika, Ala Dismissed Sheppards and Lapsley

Layman Online Story: Alabama church released for $105,000 contribution
  • Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley voted on August 21, 2008
  • First Presbyterian Church of Opelika, Ala., 78-7 in August 2007
  • Negotiations with the presbytery began in February 2008.
  • Rev. Scott Bowen:
    "We give the presbytery credit, They were gracious all the way. They were honest with us and very respectful of us."
  • The congregation had not paid per capita requests in more than 20 years.
  • The church paid the $105,00 on Aug 21
  • Both parties signed a mutual release agreement to eliminate the possibility of claims by one against the other.
  • Near Auburn University
  • Presbytery Packet (p27-28)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Merger of two small PCUSA churches Erie, PA

This story is the third one I have seen of church mergers lately. Is the a symptom of voting with their feet or failure to attract new members? Go Erie story

Friday, August 22, 2008

Lancaster, NY leaves for EPC

Layman story: Lancaster Presbyterian Church and the Presbytery of Western New York wait for property decision

Summary of the news from many sources

  • June 15 - Lancaster voted withdraw 243-0
  • Rev. Kelly Negus renounced the jurisdiction of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
  • June 16 - Church filed for a TRO and ownership determination
  • Donald Houck Jr., moderator: 'We don't want your property.'
  • The parties are officially divorced (Ed: says who?*)
  • The only question is, who retains the property?

"* Officially Divorced": The church may says this, the Book of Order may say this, but will PCUSA/Synod say this? The is why this Church (and others) did a preemptive strike and file a lawsuit. National has destroyed all trust between the local church and the denomination.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Bay PC (Bay Village, Ohio) Dismissed $700,000

Layman Story: Presbytery dismisses church after $700,000 commitment

Bay PC website

Western Reserve Presbytery

  • $100,000 a year for seven years
  • May 28 Presbytery Vote: 135-13-8
  • $1.4 million if the congregation:
    • ceasing its affiliation w/ EPC
    • sale of more than 35% of the property
    • Failure of payment
  • EPC congregation to keep its name
  • membership of 2,071 (2007)
  • 2007 Budget $2.96 million.
  • Western Reserve's commissioners voted 131-73 in favor of repeal fidelity/chastity
  • No litigation was begun during the dismissal process

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

LAWYER Help Wanted - hierarchical states?

A list of states:
  1. Texas - hierarchical
  2. Florida - hierarchical
  3. New Jersey - hierarchical
  4. West Virginia - hierarchical
  5. Washington - hierarchical
  6. Oregon?
  7. Michigan (hybrid)
  8. North Carolina (Both)
  9. California (pending)
  10. ???
  11. Oklahoma (EOP claims hierarchical)

PCUSA 'myths' exposed at New Wineskins event

Layman has an MUST READ article on property. Here is a digest:
  • Myth #1: 'Civil litigation is always bad; ecclesiastical negotiation is always good.'
  • Myth #2: 'You can only leave the PCUSA if the presbytery gives you permission.'
  • Myth #3: 'A property trust in favor of the national denomination over a local church property is essential to Presbyterian connectionalism and inherent in Presbyterianism since its 16th Century inception.'
  • Myth #4: 'Following adoption by the PCUSA (and its predecessors) of trust clauses in their denominated constitutions such clauses are binding on member churches.'

Since MythBusters is my favorite TV show, I love this format.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Kirk Of the Hills Hearing Set - Aug 28 UPDATED

From the Official Court Website: (Aug 5 2008 2:10 PM)

Kirk Of the Hills vs PCUSA & EOP

Motions for Summary Judgment Hearing Set - Aug 28 9:00 am

UPDATE From an Kirk Member in comments:

The attorneys for both sides contacted Judge Sellers concerning the hearing, and he indicated he has not made a decision yet. He has not finished reading all the material but will finish by the hearing date. He doesn't want to hear formal arguments from either side but will ask any questions he has. He may or may not make a ruling on 8/28.

Tulsa World (newspaper) article

Layman Story and Time line (missing sur-reply)Kirk of the Hills property dispute hearing on Aug. 28

NOTE: The last brief was filed on May 23, 2008 (Kirk: Sur-reply)

Note: The way I caught this so fast (48 min), I use Firefox for my browser, with an extension "Update Scanner", that alerts me if a web page changes!

I think I will take a day off and attend this "trial".

Londonderry: Settlement Announced (Updated 3x)

Londonderry Presbyterian, evangelical group reach settlement

Details: LPC (NW/EPC):

Layman has the official announcement and court filings as PDF: Proposed settlement

Call to Congregational Meeting

The Session calls the congregation of Londonderry Presbyterian Church EPC to a special meeting on Sunday, August 17, 2008, immediately following the 10:00 am service, for the purpose of ratifying the negotiated settlement agreement with the Presbytery of Northern New England (PNNE) and the Session of Londonderry Presbyterian Church PCUSA.

Official Announcement Also on: LPC(PCUSA) website

The Presbytery of Northern New England, the Session of the Londonderry Presbyterian Church (a particular church of the Presbyterian Church (USA)), and the currently unnamed New Wineskins Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Londonderry have reached agreement to resolve their lawsuit. Under the settlement agreement which has been approved by both churches' governing bodies, but is subject to ratification votes by each church's congregation by August 31st, the Londonderry Presbyterian Church, which is a particular church of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), would receive the name, buildings, and property at 126 Pillsbury Road. The New Wineskins Church would receive 15 acres of undeveloped land adjacent to this location. All parties involved are grateful that this outcome could be reached, and pray that God's Spirit will continue to move powerfully in Londonderry. Praise God!

UPDATE 2: Layman Story

UPDATE: Eagle Tribune

The conservative members will also take to their congregation: a fund, Bibles, handbells and recently acquired furniture and computers.

Judge Tina Nadeau approved the settlement Monday, according to Roy McCandless, an attorney representing PCUSA. Both congregations will vote by Aug. 31 whether to ratify the agreement. McCandless said the two sides hammered out a joint statement yesterday to announce the deal had been reached.

Ed: The sanctuary was built in 1837, the educational wing in 1974 and expanded in 1996. In the long run, the EPC side may have gotten a better deal. I hope the PCUSA side can afford the original church building.

Presbylaw temporary site.

Announcement Policy

If you have comments, corrections, or updates to this website please email me: PRESBYLAW webmaster or leave a comment.

If you wish to make a church announcement of a vote or lawsuit, I will need to verify. You either need to send it via a email that I can publicly verify belongs to the church, or point to a website with a news story, or official church website. Contacting the layman may be a better route.


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Denomination NameParentLocationSizeYear
United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. - UPCUSA(N) PUSA & UPCNA New York City8,909/2,342,4411958-1983
Presbyterian Church in United States (Confederate) - PCUS(S) Presbyterian Church in United States Atlanta, Ga.4,250/814,9311861-1983
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) PC(U.S.A) UPCUSA(N) & PCUS(S) Louisville, Kentucky11,596/3,122,213June 10, 1983
Evangelical Presbyterian Church EPC UPCUSA(N) & PCUS(S) Livonia, MI67/19,000 (1982)1980/1981
Presbyterian Church of America PCA PCUS(S) Lawrenceville, GA260/41,232May 18, 1973
Orthodox Presbyterian Church Presbyterian U.S.A. Willow Grove, PA 300/20,417 1936
Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church Associate Presbytery/Reformed Presbytery Greenville, SC 250/40,392 1782



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