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John Ortberg’s Megachurch Votes To Leave PC(USA) over Multisite Concerns

Posted on | March 8, 2014 | No Comments

In fresh wrinkle to Presbyterian splits, Menlo Park cites doctrine but also desire for more campuses.

The latest wrinkle in the ongoing mainline exodus: multisite.

More than 90 percent of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church (MPPC) members have voted to leave the Presbyterian Church (USA) despite an almost $9 million fee.

That was 2,024 ballots in favor and 158 opposed to the church's move to a newer denomination named ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians, senior pastor John Ortberg reported in a letter to his congregation. Religion News Service reports more details.

The 3,400-member church is one of the largest in the PC(USA).

"This is a major milestone, and not an ending but a beginning," Ortberg wrote. The Presbytery of San Francisco will vote to approve or reject the dismissal on March 11.

The PC(USA)'s interpretation of the authority of scripture was one motivation for leaving. But the other three reasons—mission, governance and property—all hinge on the ability to operate multisite campuses. MPPC added two new campuses—in nearby San Mateo and Mountain View—in 2007 and 2008. And they'd like to add five more.

"MPPC has seen attendance increase from 3,993 to 4,834 in the years since it started multisite campuses," the church's rationale for leaving states. "Multisite is just one example of how we can reach people, and we want to be part of a denomination that celebrates and accelerates our capacity to do this."

The PC(USA) resisted the San Mateo and Mountain View campuses, "based on the video format of the message and whether the campuses would compete with existing churches," according to the rationale.

Not only does the PC(USA) hold the property rights "in trust," which can discourage improvements to properties, …

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