From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[PCUSANEWS] Orlando pastor retires

Date 10 Dec 2002 15:58:18 -0500

Note #7536 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:

Orlando pastor retires

Orlando pastor retires

Flap over Coalition's leader seemingly was last straw for the Rev. Howard

by John Filiatreau

LOUISVILLE - The Rev. Howard Edington, the longtime pastor of First
Presbyterian Church in Orlando, FL, the fourth-largest congregation in the
Presbyterian Church (USA), has announced that he is retiring, effective Jan.

Edington made the announcement on Dec. 4, one day after Central Florida
Presbytery refused again to validate the ministry of the Rev. Carmen Fowler,
the executive director of the Presbyterian Coalition, an independent
organization of Presbyterian "renewal" groups. The coalition's offices are at
First Church and Fowler also sought to be named (non-paid) parish associate

Edington, 60, has been one of the most vocal opponents in the PC(USA) of the
ordination of gays and lesbians and of blessings of same-sex unions. His
congregation recently has been embroiled in a controversy over his
conservative views. Some elders had resigned from session, and Edington
reportedly had been urged to take a six-month sabbatical but had refused.

He also had raised some hackles by preaching in opposition to a controversial
gay-rights law passed recently by the Orlando City Council. 

Membership in First Presbyterian Church has tripled, to more than 5,500
members, since Edington became its pastor 21 years ago.

"He has been a magnificent leader for our church," Marilyn King, an elder and
member of session, told the Orlando Sentinel newspaper. "He's made incredible
contributions, not just to our church, but to our community as well."

 Edington, a one-time candidate for General Assembly moderator, announced his
retirement in a letter to church members, saying that he intends to preach
every Sunday until the end of January but has no firm plans beyond that.

First Presbyterian of Orlando was among the first in the PC(USA) to adopt a
statement of faith that became the basis for the Confessing Church Movement.

His signature was one of five on a list of theological grievances recently
taped to the front door of PC(USA) headquarters in Louisville.

In its "call to confession and repentence," the group charged that the
PC(USA) is "irretrievably apostate under current management," adding: "We are
appalled at our denomination's failure to proclaim without equivocation and
enthusiasm (that) Jesus Christ is Lord, God's only Son and our only Savior;
the Bible is the inspired and authoritative Word of God; and we are called to
holiness as exemplified in Jesus and explained in the Bible. "

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