Last year I mentioned that the church of my childhood, Highland Park Presbyterian, voted to leave the mainline Presbyterian denomination. Now I am glad to see they have reached a reasonable settlement with Grace Presbytery to keep their property.
And Grace Presbytery is to be commended for acting in a far more gracious and reasonable manner than so many other authorities in the PCUSA and other mainline denominations.
I will defer to the Session of HPPC for the details:
Dear HPPC Family,
After much deliberation and prayer, last night HPPC’s elders, trustees and pastors unanimously approved the settlement agreement previously approved by Grace Presbytery over the ongoing property litigation. This resolves once and for all that the congregation of Highland Park Presbyterian Church owns and controls the assets of Highland Park Presbyterian Church, free and clear of any claims by the PC(USA). This result achieves HPPC’s goal in the litigation of clarifying its exclusive ownership and control of its property.
In the settlement, HPPC has agreed to pay Grace Presbytery $7.8 million, or 11% of the fair market value of the approximately $70 million of assets that were at issue in the litigation. While the one-time cost of settling this lawsuit is significant, the Session believes that bringing resolution to a 30-year unanswered question about the control of HPPC’s property is worth even more in terms of our mission and witness to the community and the world. Additionally, this 11% figure is commensurate with the 11% of the congregation that voted during the discernment process to remain in the PC(USA).
Over the past year, HPPC has been opening the door to a brand new era:
• Last October, we enthusiastically entered ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians, joining a growing new denomination with other mission-centered congregations.
• In April, we unanimously called the Rev. Bryan Dunagan to be HPPC’s 7th Senior Pastor. The energy and enthusiasm generated by the arrival of Bryan and his family into our church community has been truly invigorating.
• Our giving for 2013-14, which ended in August, was $1.2 million more than last year. Thank you for your confidence and trust during this season of transition.
• The settlement of the property litigation allows HPPC to focus its creativity and energy on transforming lives through gospel-centered ministry.
The true church of Christ has never been a building or an institution, but a community of people centered in Jesus and sent into mission. At the same time, the campus that God has given us at 3821 University Blvd. is a great training ground and place of transformation in our ongoing ministry as a beacon of hope in Dallas. By being good stewards of the property that Christ has entrusted to us, we honor the legacy begun by the HPPC family in 1926 and affirm our calling to Make Disciples of Jesus Christ who make a Difference in the World for the Glory of God.
In Christ,The Session at Highland Park Presbyterian Church