United Methodists, take notice: an extremely prominent Presbyterian Church, Highland Park Presbyterian, is suing the PCUSA , (Presbyterian Church USA) its mother denomination, as a preemptive strike to keep its 30 million dollar property. HPPC has voted to align with a far more conservative denomination, the ECO (A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.)
HPPC is leaving the PCUSA over theological reasons, a “lack of freedom to choose future pastors” and the denomination’s vote to “allow openly gay people in same-sex relationships to be ordained as pastors, elders and deacons.”
Years ago, in my more doctrinally rigid days, I heard of a denomination called the IFCA (originally the Independent Fundamental Churches of America). Because it was formed from churches that split from other churches which split from other churches over increasingly tiny doctrinal differences–which had exploded into giant, irresolvable gaps–they became known colloquially as “I‘ll Fight Christians Anywhere.”
What a sad reputation.
And we, as The United Methodist Church, keep hovering closer and closer to owning that reputation for ourselves.
Unless we can agree again that a wide tent serves the world far, far better than a tiny, limited tent, I think we need to be prepared for the first round of lawsuits similar to the one the HPPC has filed. Which will be the first, large, ultra-conservative church to say, “I’m leaving and I’m taking my property me, no matter what the Discipline says”?
Pope Francis, who is powerfully re-energizing the Roman Catholic Church by his grace, expansive love and winsomeness, has figured it out. Why can’t we?