First Presbyterian Church members in Carson City will vote Oct. 19 on whether to leave Presbyterian Church USA for affiliation with an emerging group of orthodox Presbyterian congregations.
The decision to join “ECO: A covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians” comes in the aftermath of Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) easing its outlook on gay clergy and marriage, though the Rev. Bruce Kochsmeier, the Carson City congregation’s senior pastor, said the imminent prospect for change has nothing to do with homophobia.
“We don’t take our direction from culture,” he said, instead putting trust in scripture and preferring a position that “supports Biblical authority.” He said his members will still be Presbyterians and likened the change, if it’s approved as he anticipates, to be positive. He views it as setting his church up for a sound future.
The minister said the Presbytery of Nevada already has approved the leave taking, which he termed a release, and he likened the change to a family situation in which one part decides to “move into a room in the house that is very tenable and stable.” He said changes in the larger PCUSA, with which his church has been affiliated in the past, came at the most recent two-year national gathering.
He said that number is on the rise at about 400 exiting PCUSA for ECO, though PCUSA has about 10,000 churches. He said the PCUSA churches average about 80 members. He said his own church has 330 members in Carson City. His church is located at 308 W. Musser St.
Previous reports on changes affecting the nation’s Presbyterian faith community have indicated moves to a more liberal outlook spurred the evangelical covenant approach in a Reformed context, but one which has stressed less bureaucracy and a looser affiliation network to help local congregations work in conservative, or orthodox, church circles.
In a website document that includes “essential tenets,” ECO made the point Reformed tradition recognizes a danger in propositions that demand assent, but “we also recognize that when the essentials become a matter primarily of individual discernment and local affirmation, they lose all power to unite us in common mission and ministry.” The same document also refers to “infallible Scriptures.”