Zondervan author and former Willow Creek teaching pastor John Ortberg is about to lead his congregation, Menlo Park Presbyterian, out of the Presbyterian Church USA, but the church will have to buy its way out of the affiliation. Religion News Service reports,
Members of one of the largest congregations in the Presbyterian Church (USA) have voted to leave the denomination, despite facing an $8.89 million cost for leaving…
…The motion to leave the PCUSA was approved by 93 percent of the church’s members who voted, with 2,024 ballots in favor of the motion and 158 ballots opposed, according to a letter posted by Ortberg. Menlo Park determined that to keep its property and leave the denomination would cost $8.89 million, based on a summary for dismissal agreement.
But the Presbyterian name will stay with the congregation as it affiliates with ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians, making it the second 4,000-member sized church to do so. A five page Rationale for Change gives reasons for both exiting the PCUSA and joining the ECO. The document does not directly address issues of sexuality and thereby makes clear that this is not the central issue. Menlo Park also operates satellite campuses using a video feed, a rarity in PCUSA churches. (A Canadian two-campus church, Connexus, is a former Presbyterian church now part of the North Point ministry family.)
Prior to the vote, Ortberg led his congregation through a message titled “Immeasurably More” based on Ephesians 3: 20-21
Eph 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ortberg’s bio on Wikipedia notes:
Ortberg has published many books including the 2008 ECPA Christian Book Award winner When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box, and the 2002 Christianity Today Book Award winner If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat. Another of his publications, The Life You’ve Always Wanted, has sold more than 500,000 copies as of 2008…
…Ortberg earned his undergraduate degree from Wheaton College, and his M.Div. and Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Fuller Theological Seminary.
His latest book Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You releases April 22nd with Zondervan.
Update: Christianity Today reported on this one day later with some helpful background links.