With little emotion or discussion, Presbyterian leaders have voted to dismiss four churches that decided to leave the denomination after it started allowing noncelibate gay ministers.
Like the end of an amicable divorce, the regional body Wednesday night approved the departure of each congregation, ending nearly a year of study and negotiation.
After some speakers praised aspects of the negotiation process, the Rev. David Alger spoke up.
Alger, who was a member of the committee negotiating with First Presbyterian Church of Tacoma, called that church a “major institution in our city.”
“I think we should shed some tears,” Alger said. “It breaks my heart to have to vote on this.”
The approximately 100 representatives of the regional body, the Presbytery of Olympia, voted unanimously – except for one faint “no” on two of the votes – to approve each of the four congregations leaving. The voting, which was held in University Place, was over in a half hour.
The four breakaway churches include Chapel Hill Presbyterian Church in Gig Harbor, which has 1,660 members and is the largest in the presbytery covering Southwest Washington. The other three are: First Presbyterian, which has about 460 members; 365-member Sumner Presbyterian Church; and 88-member Evergreen Presbyterian Church in Graham.
Three of the four will join smaller Presbyterian organizations and still have “Presbyterian” in their names. Sumner will join another denomination, the Evangelical Covenant Church, and change its name accordingly.
Read more in Friday’s News Tribune.