This report comes in response to an overture from the Presbytery of Peace River to the 218th General Assembly (2008) of the PC(USA) that would have asked the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) to investigate the role of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) in persuading PC(USA) congregations to disaffiliate from the PC(USA) and be dismissed to the EPC. The assembly referred the overture to the General Assembly Committee on Ecumenical Relations, which appointed a task group to make recommendations.
The task group met with presbyteries in which congregations had departed the PC(USA), with pastors and members of congregations who had departed or were considering departing the PC(USA) including those affiliated with the New Wineskins Association of Churches, and with leadership of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. In listening to people’s stories and in reviewing documents, the task group sought to distinguish between actions of Evangelical Presbyterian Church, and actions of the New Wineskins Association (which consists of PC(USA) pastors and members, as well as former PC(USA) pastors and members who are now affiliated with the EPC).
The distinction is important in that the actions of the New Wineskins members can be considered matters internal to the PC(USA), at least at their root. Actions of the EPC, on the other hand, are matters between churches—churches that are both members of WARC. It is this latter category that is the focus of the original overture. The report that follows presents the findings of the task group regarding activities that are internal and external to the PC(USA), and presents recommendations on how the PC(USA) should move forward in its relations with the EPC.