(Photo: Brian Braun)
A mediation process between a breakaway Texas megachurch and the mainline denomination it once belonged to over disputed church property has failed to produce a result.
Highland Park Presbyterian Church of Dallas announced Friday that its settlement talks with Presbyterian Church (USA) over their legal property dispute did not conclude in a resolution.
In a statement posted on their website last week, Highland Park Presbyterian acknowledged the failure regarding talks with the PC (USA) regional body, Grace Presbytery, which is the association the church belonged to before voting to disaffiliate.
"At the conclusion of this past week's mediation, Highland Park Presbyterian Church and Grace Presbytery were not able to reach a settlement in the lawsuit HPPC filed last fall over control of church property," reads the statement. "Consequently, the lawsuit will continue, with an initial trial date scheduled later this year…HPPC continues to follow God's call with the new denomination ECO."
Last October, Highland Park Presbyterian voted to end their affiliation with PC (USA) and join the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians (ECO).
The decision was driven by Highland Park's view that PC (USA) was shifting away from biblical orthodoxy with ECO providing a more theologically accurate alternative. Even before voting to end their affiliation with PC (USA), Highland Park Presbyterian took the mainline denomination to court, filing a lawsuit last September to secure the rights to their $30 million should they opt to leave.
Elders at Highland Park Presbyterian explained to local media that the suit was "a pre-emptive strike against losing their longtime spiritual home."
"Kent Krause, a church elder and attorney who filed the suit on behalf of the congregation, said church trustees were concerned about previous cases in which U.S. presbyteries, including Grace Presbytery, retaliated against congregations discussing changing denominations," reported Taylor Danser of Dallas Morning News.
Early last month, Highland Park Presbyterian announced they were going to enter a "voluntary mediation with Grace Presbytery…to reach a final resolution to the legal proceedings."
"The Session of Highland Park Presbyterian Church has appointed a 5 person team to meet with representatives from Grace Presbytery," stated Highland Park.
With the settlement talks over, the trial over the church property is scheduled to be in district court for the morning of October 20.