First Presbyterian Church of Tecumseh continues working through division
The congregation of the Tecumseh First Presbyterian Church have been divided over theological issues, prompting one group of parishioners to break away and form Covenant Church, housed in the former St. Peter’s Episcopal Church on N. Evans Street. The group now at Covenant Church attempted to follow a “Process for Separation” from the Maumee Valley Presbytery and the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) while a smaller group chose to remain with PCUSA earlier this year. Since the split, the matter of church property and asset ownership has been in dispute, which has been working its way through various levels of the church’s court system.“We’re in the middle of all kinds of things right now, so about the only thing I can say is the denomination and the Maumee Valley Presbytery are still trying to sort it all out,” said Dean McGormley, Stated Clerk of the Maumee Valley Presbytery. He said there are still appeals before the church’s highest court, the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission, which will meet in February. “In the meantime, Richard Mortimer is still the called and installed minister of the First Presbyterian Church,” he said. He added that Maumee Valley did take action on May 15 of this year to declare the church in schism, and identified the two groups as the “Foundational group,” the “true church,” and the “leaving group.” “These were not legal terms, but just a way to identify the two groups when referring to them,” he said. “At this time, both groups are still PCUSA churches.”McGormley said that the Maumee Valley Presbytery hired a missionary, Jim Brown, to lead worship services at the First Presbyterian Church.“There are services there at 8:30 every Sunday morning,” he said.Services are being held at the Covenant Church at 8:30 and 10 a.m. each Sunday. Rev. Mortimer has been a “guest speaker” at the Covenant Church.McGormley said working out the legalities that resulted from the schism would take time, and could involve anywhere from two months to three years to be settled.