A proposal for First Presbyterian Church in Columbus, Georgia, to separate from the PC (USA) failed Sunday by eight votes. Some members consider the PC to be more liberal about same-sex marriage doctrine and other issues than they would like.
The 900-member congregation of the church voted 266 to 146 in favor of the measure.
However, the number fell short of the 274 votes needed for dismissal from the denomination, which required a two-thirds vote.
Some members had hoped to join the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians, a new denomination formed out of churches that have separated from the national church.
Doctrinal differences with PC (USA), the largest Presbyterian denomination in America, escalated in June 2014 when the General Assembly approved an amendment in the Book of Order that allows the church to perform same-sex weddings in jurisdictions where such marriages are legally permitted.
Some members also disagreed with the denomination’s decision to divest from companies doing business with Israel and they were disappointed when a motion to identify essential tenets was defeated.
The marriage amendment has since been ratified by a majority of the denomination’s presbyteries, which are regional governing bodies throughout the organization.
A total of 412 members voted Sunday at a special meeting held directly after the congregation’s 11 a.m. service. Before the members voted, a motion was made for First Presbyterian’s “dismissal to another Reformed body of its choosing.” Then members representing both sides of the debate lined up to express their views.