A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians

What ever happened to that Presbyterian church that split over gay clergy? Paper offers half the answer

What ever happened to that Presbyterian church that split over gay clergy? Paper offers half the answer

The Kansas City Star tries hard — really hard — to tell an inspiring story about a Presbyterian church that split.

The problem: The facts make the positive spin a little difficult to compute.

Basically, turmoil engulfed a congregation affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). When the national denomination approved ordaining gay clergy, a big chunk of an Overland Park, Kan., congregation decided to join a more conservative denomination. Members voted 350-100 for the switch, according to the Star.

But the change to the new denomination — A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO) — sparked a legal fight:

Heartland Presbytery, the regional body that represents Presbyterian Church USA, filed a lawsuit in Johnson County District Court against the 350 disaffiliated members. Heartland argued that Presbyterian Church USA owned the church, its pews, its Bibles and all other property. But the ECO faction believed the church and its contents belonged to the congregation, the entity that holds title to the building.
Based on Kansas’ adherence to denominational rules, the judge found that Heartland Presbytery, represented by the remaining 100 members, was the true owner of the church property.
The division and the lawsuit created a perfect storm between the two groups that caused about 600 people to leave the church entirely.

These kind of legal fights are, of course, not limited to Presbyterians. Just today, a major ruling in a case involving Episcopal churches was issued in South Carolina. Look for GetReligion analysis of media coverage there soon.

But back to the Star: What is the news angle?

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Mea culpa: Houston, this time the problem was me

In a post Tuesday, I reported wrongly that the Houston Chronicle managed only 262 words of coverage on a major religion story in its own city — the narrow decision by the First Presbyterian Church of Houston to remain in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). “A glorified news brief,” I disparagingly referred to it. In fact, the Chronicle devoted more than 800 words to Sunday’s vote and gave the decision front-page play.

I apologize to the Chronicle and senior reporter Mike Tolson, who handled the story. Neither deserved the negative treatment I gave them.

“No news outlet gave this matter more coverage than the Chronicle,” Tolson said in an email pointing out my “glaring error.”

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Universalism at play? Or is this church split only about sex?

The Dallas Morning News — which dropped its paywall Oct. 1 — had an interesting story this week on a mainline Presbyterian church split. This is a big one, folks:

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