Commissioners to the EPC 37th General Assembly approved dividing the Presbytery of the Pacific into a new Presbytery of the Pacific Northwest and Presbytery of the Pacific Southwest, effective January 1, 2018.
Annie Rose, Ruling Elder from Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Warrenville, Ill., noted that this action would result in the Presbytery of the Pacific multiplying into two, to which Moderator Dean Weaver quipped, “As multiplication is one of our strategic initiatives, this certainly seems in order.”
The Presbytery of the Pacific is the EPC’s largest presbytery by area, and includes all of Alaska, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, as well as the western portion of Idaho. Not including Hawaii, the presbytery stretches more than 2,600 miles from north to south and spans three time zones from east to west.
The new Presbytery of the Pacific Northwest will include Alaska, Oregon, Washington, the portions of Idaho and Montana west of the 114th meridian, and the portion of California north of a line 10 miles south of state highway 299.
The new Presbytery of the Pacific Southwest includes the entire states of Hawaii and Nevada; the portion of Arizona west of the 114th meridian; and the portion of California south of a line 10 miles south of state highway 299.
Using the most recent reporting numbers for the Presbytery of the Pacific, the Presbytery of the Pacific Northwest will have 39 churches and approximately 7,000 members, while the Presbytery of the Pacific Southwest will include 30 churches and approximately 10,800 members.
Ron Bengelink, Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of the Pacific, wrote when submitting the recommendation to the Assembly that both proposed presbyteries contain experienced and capable leadership since the Pacific’s Candidates Care, Ministerial, World Outreach, and Church Planting committees have been functioning with separate Northwest and Southwest teams for the past three years.
In a related presbytery boundary action, the border between the current presbyteries of the Pacific and West was amended to fall on the 114th meridian, effective July 1, 2017. The adjustment provides two benefits:
- Accommodates a request from Kingman (Ariz.) Evangelical Presbyterian Church for travel convenience of church officers when attending presbytery meetings, and to recognize that most of its members are retired from California and have a strong affinity for that state .
- Provides a rational and easily defined border between the two presbyteries.
The Assembly also approved an Overture from the Presbytery of Florida to change its name to the Presbytery of Florida and the Caribbean. The basis for the change was that previous Assemblies have approved expanding the boundaries of the presbytery to include the Bahamas and Puerto Rico, and there are indicators that additional Caribbean churches may wish to join the EPC.
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