Texas Megachurch Possibly One Step Closer to Resolving Property Dispute with Presbyterian Church (USA)

A Texas congregation that was once the largest Presbyterian Church (USA) member church in the Lone Star State may be one step closer to securing its property.

Highland Park Presbyterian Church of Dallas, a congregation with approximately 4,000 members, will hold a meeting with the PC (USA) regional body it was formerly under. Representatives from Highland Park Presbyterian and Grace Presbytery plan to meet on Feb. 21.

"Out of respect for the confidentiality that is crucial for a successful mediation process, there are not many details that we can comment on at this time," Zack House, communications director for Highland Park Presbyterian, told The Christian Post.

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House did however direct CP to a press release available on the church's website. A "Time of Prayer" is scheduled for next Wednesday at Highland Park Presbyterian.

"As part of the ongoing litigation concerning the HPPC property, Highland Park Presbyterian Church has agreed to engage in voluntary mediation with Grace Presbytery later this month to attempt to reach a final resolution to the legal proceedings," reads the statement. "There will be an open Time of Prayer in the Sanctuary on Wednesday, February 19, from 6:30 to 7:30 pm to pray for wisdom and guidance for all parties involved in this process."

Last October the congregation at Highland Park Presbyterian voted to terminate its voluntary affiliation with PC (USA) due to the mainline denomination's increasingly liberal theology.

Highland Park Presbyterian proceeded to join the newly formed Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians (ECO), that is considered more theologically conservative. The month before, Highland Park Presbyterian filed a lawsuit seeking legal protection of its property should they make their move to terminate voluntary affiliation with PC (USA).

"HPPC was first organized in 1926 and first incorporated on January 31, 1928…members of the local church corporation are all those who are on the active rolls of the local congregation," read the suit in part. "At no time in its history have the articles of incorporation for Highland Park Presbyterian Church contained any provision creating or establishing any trust…in favor of a national denomination upon the property held by or for the local church or its civil corporation."

In the past, representatives of Grace Presbytery have protested the process through which Highland Park Presbyterian sought to protect its property, noting that the regional body has a formal process involving dismissal.

Janet M. DeVries, M.Div, D.Min., General Presbyter for Grace Presbytery, told CP last September that Highland Park's leadership was circumventing the proper process for dismissal.

"While Highland Park's session can recommend dismissal to another Reformed body, Highland Park's lawsuit circumvents and interferes with the established ecclesiastical dismissal process," said DeVries. "The constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Just and Gracious Dismissal Policy of Grace Presbytery provide for a process which enables the congregation to hear and discuss both the PC(USA) and the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO)."

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