Okla. church votes to leave Presbyterians

Jan. 28, 2013 at 3:03 PM

EDMUNDS, Okla., Jan. 28 (UPI) -- The First Presbyterian Church of Edmunds, Okla., voted to sever ties with Presbyterian Church (USA) over the ordination of gay ministers, its pastor said.

The church announced Sunday it would leave the denomination and join the Evangelical Covenant Order after an 815-55 vote to sever ties with the Presbyterian Church (USA), The Oklahoman reported Monday.

The Rev. Mateen Elass, the church's senior pastor, cited theological differences for the split, noting his congregation's perception the Presbyterian Church has moved away from the authority of Scripture with its 2011 decision to allow the ordination of gay people and a perception ministers who defied a ban on same-sex marriage are not being held accountable.

The vote Sunday brought cheers from the assembly in the 1,100-seat sanctuary.

"It was a release for folks, a spontaneous eruption," said Elass about the end to a seven-year debate related to leaving the church. "People were eager to have an end, and a new beginning."

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