Session's Decision to Request Dismissal from PC(USA)
Dear Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church Family,
This letter is to inform you of a significant decision that our Session has made. Tuesday, July 24, our Elders voted to ask the San Joaquin Presbytery to dismiss our church from the Presbyterian Church, USA (PCUSA). The vote of the Elders begins the process of requesting dismissal. This process will likely take months before it is finished. There are many issues that the church and the Presbytery will have to investigate, discuss and decide.
This decision was not an easy one. For many of us membership in the PCUSA was something we valued and cherished. This decision was not made quickly, as much prayer, debate and research went into it. We first started discussing the issue in July, 2008. At that time it became clear to some of the Elders that the direction the Presbyterian Church, USA was heading was not the direction they could support. During the last four years our Elders have
Formed a Discernment Team to study the issue.
Held three meetings to discuss the topic with the congregation.
Took a survey (about 315 responses) of the congregation regarding this issue.
Sent representatives to four regional/national meetings to explore our options.
Held a church prayer service to pray for the PCUSA and our upcoming decision.
Spent hours discussing and debating what to do.
Worked cooperatively with the San Joaquin Presbytery on this subject.
Interviewed many people from the congregation who had questions or opinions on the topic.
The Elders did not always agree in their discussions. They had differing points of view. But in the end, they came to the conclusion that requesting dismissal was the best choice for Sierra Vista.
The Elders also decided to apply for membership in a new denomination of Presbyterians, the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO). They believe that the beliefs, practices and goals of ECO are more in line with Sierra Vista. We like what we have seen, heard and read about ECO. We started the application process on Wednesday of last week. Again, the process will take time.
We understand that these decisions will be well received by some and will be received as very disappointing by others. We truly regret that. It is the hope of our Elders that all who currently attend Sierra Vista will stay with us as we move forward. We will not be changing the mission we have or the ministries we run. We will still be Presbyterians. We just are changing the denomination with whom we are affiliated. We have had very preliminary discussions with the San Joaquin Presbytery about the Presbytery becoming a Union Presbytery with membership in both PCUSA and ECO. This is a possibility, but at this point, only a possibility and we have no control over that decision.
If you would like to talk with an Elder or a Pastor, please contact our office (683-6742) or Rick or Paul directly. We hope you will look forward to being a part of Sierra Vista’s future, but if you cannot, we will assist you in any way we can. Continue to pray for our church, for the PCUSA and for ECO. We are grateful that throughout this long process you have encouraged and prayed for us.