The Rev. Charles Hasty, former senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Columbus, has accepted a call to pastor a new flock that formed in the wake of a controversial vote that split the downtown congregation.
Dr. Dickie Straus, president of an interim leadership team at Grace Presbyterian Church, said a pastoral search committee recently selected Hasty for the position and he accepted. Straus said Hasty, who stepped down from First Presbyterian in May, is on vacation.
Hasty will assume the pastoral position Aug. 10 and preach his first sermon at Grace Presbyterian on Aug. 16th, according to Straus and other church members. Hasty could not be reached for comment.
“I’m thrilled. I’m very happy about it,” Straus said Tuesday during an interview. “I think Chuck is a very good preacher and Chuck is an excellent pastor. And there’s a big difference between the two. If you’re in the hospital, you want a good pastor. If you’re in the pew, you want a good preacher. And it’s really hard to find a good combination and Chuck is very, very good at both.”
Grace Presbyterian began holding worship services on April 26, a week after members of First Presbyterian defeated a resolution to split from the Presbyterian Church (USA) over same-sex marriage and other doctrinal issues. Those in favor of the dismissal had hoped to join the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians (ECO), a new denomination formed as a result of disagreements between some churches and PC (USA). But members of the 900-member congregation located at 1100 First Ave., voted 266 to 146 in favor of separating from PC (USA) at an April 19 meeting. The resolution fell eight votes short of the two-thirds required for gracious dismissal.
Last month, Grace Presbyterian became an official ECO church plant. The group holds services at a Teen Challenge building at 5304 Hurst Drive.
Hasty, who has said he was neutral on the issue, resigned as senior pastor of First Presbyterian in May. At the time, he wrote an email to members of First Presbyterian saying: “My heart, like all of yours, is broken in the wake of the fractured vote for gracious dismissal and the resulting conflicted state of our relationships within First Presbyterian and between First Presbyterian and Flint River Presbytery.”
Straus said Tuesday that members of Grace Presbyterian had no intention of starting a new congregation when the controversial vote occurred. He said Hasty remained impartial throughout the whole process, and members of Grace Presbyterian only reached out to him recently.
“Once it became clear that we were going to form a new church, he obviously was the first choice of the pastoral search committee,” he said. “We felt like once the vote occurred, we felt there was some alignment, or thread of thought theologically with those who wanted to leave. But that was not obvious to many people ahead of time.”
Straus said Hasty and his family were at Grace Presbyterian when the announcement was made July 12 and there was applause from the congregation.
“My sense from the general tone was that everybody was very happy about it,” he said.