1,000-Member Colo. Presbyterian Church Considering Leaving PCUSA

A church in Colorado with about 1,000 members is considering seeking dismissal from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in response to theological differences between itself and the denomination.

The leadership at First Presbyterian Church of Fort Collins cited "Irreconcilable spiritual differences" in their consideration of seeking dismissal from the PC(USA), as the recommendation for dismissal was brought before the congregation on Sunday.

Dan Saperstein, executive presbyter of the Presbytery of Plains and Peaks, which First Presbyterian belongs to at present, provided The Christian Post with a statement.

"I am saddened by the decision of the leadership of First Presbyterian Church, Fort Collins to recommend that the congregation seek dismissal from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)," said Saperstein. "First Presbyterian Church has a long and historic relationship with our denomination. It is a valued member and partner in the presbytery whose dismissal would have a significant impact on our common work and witness for Christ in Northern Colorado."

First Presbyterian is one of many PC(USA) congregations across the country that have voted to leave the mainline Protestant denomination due to the decision at the 219th General Assembly to allow presbyteries to decide to ordain noncelibate homosexuals to church positions.

Amendment 10A, which amended the PC(USA) rules to allow for this, was passed by a vote of the presbyteries with 373 yeas, 323 nays, and 4 abstentions. According to Saperstein, Plains and Peaks Presbytery voted in favor of the amendment.

The decision on the part of the leadership of First Presbyterian is merely the first step in a process of dismissal expected to take several months.

"The church council's action initiates a process of consultation between the presbytery and the members, elders, and pastors of First Presbyterian Church as directed by presbytery policy and the denomination's constitution," said Saperstein.

"This process will determine if, when, and under what conditions such a dismissal may take place. It is designed to encourage honest and respectful dialogue and to protect the rights and conscience of every church member."

First Presbyterian of Fort Collins is not the first sizable Presbyterian congregation in Colorado that has opted to seek dismissal from the PC(USA) over theological reasons. Citing similar issues with the liberal theology of the mainline denomination, the 4,000-member First Presbyterian of Colorado Springs voted back in April to sever ties.

"What we are trying to do is make an adaptive change that would keep us engaged and relevant as a faith community in today's culture," said Alison Murray, leader of staff for First Presbyterian of Colorado Springs, in an earlier interview with CP.

"We don't feel that the PC(USA), the way its structured, is really supporting the local churches in their outreach Kingdom building efforts. So really that is what this is about."

First Presbyterian of Fort Collins, Colo., did not return a request for comment by press time.

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