Monday, October 29, 2007

Breakaway Presbyterians In Ohio Keep Church Property

In November 2006, members of the Hudson (OH) Presbyterian Church voted 166-61 to disaffiliate from the Presbyterian Church USA. It has since been operating independently, but two weeks ago voted to affiliate with the New Wineskins Association of Churches. After the vote-- which was prompted by disagreements over theological and policy issues-- those remaining loyal to the PCUSA were designated by the Eastminster Presbytery as the true Hudson Presbyterian Church. However, according to the Akron Beacon Journal, a Summit County Common Pleas Court magistrate ruled on Friday that the church's property belongs to the majority breakaway group. Magistrate John Shoemaker rejected the argument that the church property was held in trust for the denomination as defined in the PCUSA constitution. The decision is consistent with one by a New Hampshire court earlier this month. (See prior posting.)

UPDATE: Here is the full text of the magistrate's opinion in Hudson Presbyterian Church v. Eastminster Presbytery, (OH Com. Pl., Summit Co., Oct. 23, 2007). [Thanks to Ed Koster for sending along the opinion.]

UPDATE: The Christian Post on Monday reports on the fourth annual Convocation of the New Wineskins Association of Churches beig held this week. It will create a non-geographical Transitional Presbytery for the increasing number of congregations leaving the PCUSA to seek New Wineskins membership.