Megachurch Will Pay Millions to Part Ways With Nation’s Biggest Presbyterian Denomination Amid Major Rift Over ‘Who Jesus Is’

By Billy Hallowell

A California megachurch has voted to officially leave the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a Christian denomination that is the largest in the nation.

Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, Calif., one of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s largest congregations, made the choice despite facing a $8.89 million cost for the church’s property and membership fees, Religion News Service reported.

Pastor John Ortberg addresses his congregation (Image source: Menlo Park Presbyterian Church/Vimeo)

With 4,000 members, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Menlo Park’s decision is a major development in the lifecycle of a denomination that continues to experience ideological infighting over its more liberal stances on controversial issues.

In sum, 2,024 ballots were cast in support of separation, with only 158 individuals in opposition — an overwhelming 93 percent of the votes were in favor of Menlo Park moving on to join ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.

ECO is a relatively new denomination that was founded in January 2012 amid ongoing theological debate among Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) church leaders. According to Religion News Service, the Christian body has attracted 115 Presbyterian churches since its inception.

“This is a major milestone, and not an ending but a beginning,” Pastor John Ortberg wrote in a letter to parishioners on March 2. “There’s a lot yet to come of what Dallas Willard called the unique life of spiritual adventure in living with God daily — entering fully into the good news that Jesus has brought, for ourselves, and for us as a church.”

In a document published by Menlo Park last year, leaders described their reasons for seeking a split with Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), noting that the church’s “evangelical identity around who Jesus is and our understanding of the authority of scripture are increasingly out of alignment” with the denomination as …read more    

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