Monday, April 28, 2008

Ohio: Bay Presbyterian negotiating exodus from denomination

I think the conservative Presbyterians had better watch out - check out what I've boldfaced in this article from The Plain Dealer (Ohio):

The largest Presbyterian church in Northeast Ohio is offering a $550,000 buyout to its denomination so it can move to a more-conservative church body.

Bay Presbyterian Church in Bay Village wants to become part of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, joining other congregations upset with what they consider liberal theological trends and growing acceptance of gay and lesbian clergy in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Unlike the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio, which this year sued several local churches seeking to leave the denomination that approved a gay bishop, the Presbytery of the Western Reserve is negotiating with Bay Presbyterian. Bay spokesman John Fuller said the church has more than 2,000 members, representing about 14 percent of the total membership of nearly 14,000 in the Western Reserve area.

The presbytery negotiating team initially asked for $3 million to be paid over 10 years as compensation for the loss of giving and membership with Bay's departure. The Rev. Elizabeth Hendricks, general presbyter, said Friday the group is still discussing a revised offer.

Bay officials, who want to keep the building and land, said that the presbytery negotiating team is insisting on more than $1 million but that the church's final offer is $550,000 over 10 years.

The presbytery is scheduled to act on the church's offer at its May 28 meeting.

Both sides are hoping for a resolution.

"We would like to avoid the civil court process if at all possible," Hendricks said. "All of us think it is not what the Bible instructed us to do, at least not as a first resort."

Fuller said the church has not decided on other options. "We're just trusting we will be dismissed," he said. . .

"At least not as a first resort" - be afraid, be very afraid!

Read it all.

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