Complaint Dismissed Against San Gabriel Presbytery; Glenkirk, Covina Churches Move to ECO

Two California churches finally completed their journeys to a new denominational home when a remedial complaint against San Gabriel Presbytery was dismissed

That action by the Permanent Judicial Commission (PJC) for the Synod of Southern California and Hawaii took place July 11, paving the way for Glenkirk and FPC-Covina to part ways with the Presbyterian Church (USA) as new members of ECO. The order from the PJC indicated that the stay of enforcement was removed in Anderson et al v. Presbytery of San Gabriel and the case dismissed, ending more than six months of uncertainty for the leadership and congregants of both churches in Southern California.

 

A pair of California churches finally completed their journeys to a new denominational home when a remedial complaint against San Gabriel Presbytery was dismissed.

Glenkirk Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Covina were dismissed to become  congregations of ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians during the Oct. 20, 2012, special meeting of San Gabriel Presbytery. However, those moves were not made official until a remedial complaint against the presbytery was dismissed.

That action by the Permanent Judicial Commission (PJC) for the Synod of Southern California and Hawaii took place July 11, paving the way for Glenkirk and FPC-Covina to part ways with the Presbyterian Church (USA) as new members of ECO.

The order from the PJC indicated that the stay of enforcement was removed in Anderson et al v. Presbytery of San Gabriel and the case dismissed, ending more than six months of uncertainty for the leadership and congregants of both churches in Southern California.

Action sends Glenkirk congregation to ECO

Glenkirk Pastor Jim Miller said there was a sense of relief regarding the PJC’s decision to remove the stay of enforcement and dismiss the case after the complaint was filed in November.

“There’s been a lot of prayer and waiting,” said Miller, who has been at the 1,200-member church started in 1955 in Glendora, Calif., for five years. “There was very little we could do, except stay engaged in communication with the presbytery and our congregation. We’re relieved and overjoyed to have this behind us. It has been a long and hard road.”

The complaint against the presbytery was made after Glenkirk was dismissed to become part of ECO, effective Dec. 31, 2012, and sought to make the dismissal null and void. Twelve complainants were named, and they alleged various “irregularities” that occurred during the special meeting of San Gabriel Presbytery on Oct. 20, primarily that the presbytery dismissed both Glenkirk and FPC-Covina to ECO’s West Presbytery with property in violation of the PCUSA Constitution and the October 2012 GAPJC ruling from Tom, Hawbecker, and Conrad v. the Presbytery of San Francisco.

Four of the nine counts cited were related to Glenkirk. They were:

  • Mischaracterizing the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO) as a denomination operating in the Reformed tradition and acceptable to receive Glenkirk Presbyterian Church of Glendora.
  • Mischaracterizing the action of the 218th General Assembly (2008) in urging presbyteries to pass gracious dismissal policies which would allow those churches wanting to leave the denomination the right to do so with their property subject to various terms and conditions including that the departing church left to another Reformed denomination approved by the presbytery.
  • Mischaracterizing the Presbytery of the West as a presbytery to which Glenkirk Presbyterian Church could be dismissed.
  • Failing to adequately consider the value of the property of Glenkirk Presbyterian Church of Glendora as required by the constitution in the Authoritative Interpretation adopted by the General Assembly of 1988 and as reaffirmed by the GAPJC in Remedial Case 221-03 (Tom, Hawbecker, and Conrad v. the Presbytery of San Francisco).

FPC-Covina joins ECO after case dismissal

First Presbyterian Church of Covina was supposed to become a member of ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians Dec. 31, 2012, but that move was put on hold for more than six months while a complaint against San Gabriel Presbytery was investigated.

“Our process in leaving the PCUSA was one of many prayers and seeking the Lord in discernment,” FPC-Covina Pastor Andrea Messinger wrote in a response to an email from The Layman. “While there were twists and turns along the way, God’s sovereign hand was incredibly evident. We did have several months of delay, but the outcome has been a smooth transition. The Presbytery team that worked on our behalf (Ruth Santana-Grace, Cyndie Crowell, Steve Salyards and Dave Tomlinson) served in a God-honoring way throughout.”

Three of the nine counts cited in the complaint were related to Covina. They were:

  • Mischaracterizing the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO) as a denomination operating in the reformed tradition and acceptable to receive First Presbyterian Church of Covina.
  • Mischaracterizing the Presbytery of the West as a presbytery to which First Presbyterian Church of Covina could be dismissed.
  • Failing to adequately consider the value of the property of First Presbyterian Church of Covina as required by the constitution in the Authoritative interpretation adopted by the General Assembly of 1998 and as reaffirmed by the GAPJC in Remedial Case 221-03 (Tom, Hawkecker, and Conrad v. the Presbytery of San Francisco).

Two additional counts were brought against the presbytery (see above).

The 344-member church in Covina, located east of Pasadena, Calif., was dismissed along with Glenkirk Presbyterian Church during an Oct. 20, 2012, special meeting of the presbytery.

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