First Presbyterian Church of Longview members voted in favor of leaving their national denomination over ordination policies and scriptural interpretation issues at a congregational meeting Sunday night.
More than 370 members of First Presbyterian turned attended the meeting to vote whether to leave or stay with the denomination, or to stay with the church's property regardless.
The church has been in disagreement over scripture interpretation for approximately six years, but it was a new national proposal that allows the ordination of non celibate homosexuals that brought the issues to a church vote, according to Reverend Stuart Baskin of First Presbyterian Church of Tyler.
"I would say that was the issue that was the presenting issue, but early on people told me that was not the main issue. It really was discomfort with the First Presbyterian Church in general," Reverend Baskin said. "The more fundamental issue was a perceived change in the interpretation of scripture, and what latitude there should be in allowing people to interpret scripture."
Grace Presbytery of Dallas, the local church's governing authority, called the meeting and vote, which Reverend Baskin moderated.
The vote was 282 in favor of leaving the Presbyterian Church of the USA and joining Evangelical Presbyterian Church; 84 in favor of remaining with the denomination, and six voting to stay with the property regardless of denomination affiliation.
Baskin said since the minority vote was so large, the church decided to split and have the remaining members stay at First Presbyterian Church of Longview and the dissenting members join the Evangelical Presbyterian denomination.
The new Longview Presbyterian church will be the Evangelical Presbyterian Church Longview.
The departing group will have services Sunday in a building that once housed First Lutheran Church Longview at 600 W. Garfield St.
First Presbyterian Pastor Jonathan Jehorek agreed to lead the new church, leaving the Presbyterian Church USA. Jehorek said last week he resigned his ordination with Presbyterian Church USA.
The remaining members will stay at the First Presbyterian Church of Longview. Baskin said the daycare the church provides will stay open, with the same administrators and teachers.
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