Montreat Presbyterian Church voted 311 – 27 to ask to be dismissed from the Presbyterian Church (USA) to the more conservative Evangelical Presbyterian Church. The conservative congregation had been upset with the denomination for some time for what it regarded as the denomination's drift away from the Bible and toward pluralism. Moderator Joan Gray met with them before the vote to attempt to answer their questions.
So far, this story has only been reported in The Presbyterian Layman, which reads the congregation's actions wholly in light of national Presbyterian issues. The congregation itself has not issued an announcement, and other news sources – the Presbyterian News Service, the Presbyterian Outlook, the secular press – have not covered the story yet. Others who have discussed the issue with me see this departure as part of a slow national schism driven by the General Assembly's adoption of the Peace, Unity, and Purity task force report.
I wonder, though, how much this particular congregation was moved by a local issue not mentioned in the Layman account: the decision to close the Presbyterian Historical Society office at Montreat. This has been a passionate grievance for many Southern Presbyterians. Surely the anger over the PHS closing has touched more people personally at Montreat Presbyterian Church than anywhere.
Until there is wider coverage of this vote, I can only speculate. But I urge those who see each congregation's departure as a symptom of a national schism to consider how much local issues also drive these votes.