Monday, October 17, 2011

A Shout Out to My Friends at First Presbyterian, Enid, and Pastor Roy Schneider

First Presbyterian Church in Enid, Oklahoma voted yesterday on whether or not members wished to remain a part of the denomination Presbyterian USA. PCUSA claims to have 2.3 million members in all 50 states, but on May 10, 2011, PCUSA joined a long line of mainline denominations in approving the ordination of gays and homosexuals to be pastors within the denomination. Most of the people at First Presbyterian, Enid, and all of my friends at that church were opposed to the denomination's decision to ordain homosexuals.  Yesterday, First Presbyterian, Enid's membership voted 65% to 35% to leave  the PCUSA denomination.

Here's what that means. Unlike independent, autonomous Baptist churches like the church I pastor (Emmanuel Baptist Church, Enid, Oklahoma), the church members of the non-profit church called First Presbyterian, Enid do not own the buildings (valued in the millions). Neither do the members of First Presbyterian, Enid own the church endowment funds (estimated at $4 million dollars). The denomination owns all the assets. So, even though the members of the church paid for their buildings, gave money to the church's endowment, and have financially supported the church over the more than 100 years of the church's existence, the members who choose to leave First Presbyterian, Enid go without any assets. Further, if Pastor Roy Schneider leaves the denomination, which might happen due to his biblical faith-based convictions, Pastor Schneider will forfeit his retirement account.

Wow. In Enid, Oklahoma there are Christians who cherish the Bible more than the church buildings. There are Christians who are more concerned about their principles than their pocketbooks. Enid, Oklahoma has some Christians who value what God says more than what any denominational leaders say. Those are, in my opinion, the kind of Christians that ultimately make a difference in this world. Kudos to the people of First Presbyterian Church, Enid, Oklahoma. If you start another church, we will support you in any way possible. If you need a church home, our church would welcome with open arms people like you who love Christ and His Word.

And, if nothing else, the issues in PCUSA remind me why I'm glad I'm in a church system that is congregational in polity, autonomous in governance, and ultimately free and independent of any silly and unbiblical decisions of denominational authorities. In other words, the Southern Baptist Convention owns neither the buildings, endowments, or financial assets of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Enid.

That's the way it ought to be.


John Wylie said...

I applaud the courage and conviction of the congregation and pastor of FPC Enid. I applaud you, Wade, for your offer of support to them. I know I live on the other side of the state but if there is anything our church can do to aid them please contact me.

John Wylie
Springer, OK

Steven Stark said...

While I disagree with your stance on what exactly the Bible is and how it should be used, and I think that accepting the ordination of homosexual men and women is a step forward in the ever-sharpening focus of religion towards greater compassion, as a member of Mayflower Congregational Church in OKC, I agree with your assessment of church organization.

Despite my disagreement with the church's vote, I hope that they might reach some sort of agreement with the denomination that is fair!

Steven Stark said...

But then again, what if the church splits? Then there would still be a congregation at First Pres, and those leaving would essentially be.....a massive group of people leaving the church? And if a person(s) moves to a different city, joins a different church in town, etc. they wouldn't normally expect their money back would they? Hmmmm.

Of course, the pastor should be able to bargain for what he has contributed to his retirement, we would hope.



Rex Ray said...

The facts sound horrible with the Presbyterian denomination owning the property etc.

It makes us Baptists look good where our churches own everything. But

tells how SWBTS under Paige Patterson tells Tarrant County Association they have six months to vacate their property because SWBTS is going to take it.

Even though the Association has a deed, Patterson sees a possible ‘loophole’.

I believe this should be a bigger “WOW!”

Josh from FL said...

When the Episcopal/Anglican Church did this last decade, a local fellowship of Anglicans fell to the same fate.
Some local churches were going to fleece them to allow this body of believers worship in their buildings; however, my home church opened up our doors to them free of charge to have their weekday services.
It was a great experience. They were our roommates in many ways. We had Good Friday and Christmas Eve services together under one roof.
God continued to bless them and they were able to get property and new building, but the relationship we built with them has never died.
Of all of the things my Southern Baptist Church ever did in the 25+years of growing up there, that was without a doubt one of the best.
Just things to consider coming from a church member who experienced how the family of God bands together.