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First Presbyterian Church of San Antonio, a megachurch formerly in the PC USA, has paid $1.5 million to their former denomination in order to join the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians. The church cited theological differences with the PC USA and noted that it had a strong legal position but ruled it was better to settle the matter financially rather than fight a legal battle.
Why Does This Matter to Church Leaders?
Denominations and individual congregations are more likely than ever to fragment over theological issues. This story suggests several key points for church leaders to consider:
- How will you handle controversial issues? There’s a good chance that your congregation and denomination are filled with people who disagree on a wide range of theological issues. How do you decide which issues are primary and which are secondary? When divisions emerge, do you have a process in place for discussion and reconciliation?
- What do your governing documents say about leaving a denomination or splitting a church? While no one wants to think about a church dividing or a congregation leaving a denomination, leaders should review their guidelines and by-laws in order to determine the best course forward when there are divisions.
- Lawsuits are a last resort. This story reveals the wisdom of two groups opting to reach a settlement that avoids a long, costly court battle and make it possible for both groups to return to their ministry work.
What will/would you do if a break needed to occur?
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