UNION — The Union Presbyterian Church announced this week that it is no longer affiliated with the Presbyterian Church USA.
According to a press release sent out by the church, the decision was reached when the congregation voted in June of 2017 to leave the denomination. The reason given was the disagreement on several social issues the General Assembly had implemented. Church officials say the process was long and arduous, but the vast majority of conditions to separate from the denomination have been met. As a result, and was required, the congregation is prohibited from using the former name, Union First Presbyterian Church. The membership agreed to adopt the new name of Union Presbyterian Church. They are now affiliated with the ECO which is described as a Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians with the mission of building flourishing churches that make disciples of Jesus Christ.
In the summer of 2010, seven pastors from the Presbyterian Church (USA) spoke of finding new ways to encourage each other in faith, ministry, and mission. They were concerned by the declining membership within their denomination (from four million to two million in 40 years). They worried that growing denominational disputes over theology and bureaucracy stole focus from their pastoral calling of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and equipping a new generation to lead. These pastors dreamed of reclaiming a sense of covenanted community among leaders from a Presbyterian and Reformed heritage, and to find new ways for churches to connect, grow and multiply.
As a result, in January 2012, at a conference in Orlando with more than 2,200 in attendance, a new denomination was formed: ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.
The core values of the denomination can be found on their website at eco-pres.org. Church members report that enthusiasm and excitement is high as they work to expand outreach programs into the community. One of the planned programs is an event for college students as they return to class in late August and a recital later in the summer, by their pianist and organist, Hannah Powell. The church is currently under the leadership of Transitional Pastor Lee Moseley.