Highland Park Presbyterian Church (Dallas, Texas)

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Highland Park Presbyterian Church
A church in University Park, Texas.jpg
Highland Park Presbyterian Church is located in Texas
Highland Park Presbyterian Church
Highland Park Presbyterian Church
32°50′40.8″N 96°47′59.6″W / 32.844667°N 96.799889°W / 32.844667; -96.799889Coordinates: 32°50′40.8″N 96°47′59.6″W / 32.844667°N 96.799889°W / 32.844667; -96.799889
Location 3821 University Boulevard, University Park, Texas 75205
Country  USA
Denomination ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians
Previous denomination Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
Website hppc.org
Founded 1926
Dedicated 1928
Architect(s) Mark Lemmon
Architectural type Gothic architecture
Pastor(s) Rev. Bryan Dunagan

Highland Park Presbyterian Church (HPPC) is a Presbyterian church in University Park, Texas, which is one of the affluent Park Cities enclaves of Dallas.

In 2013, HPPC voted to change its affiliation from Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.[1]


HPPC was first established in 1926, with 290 members.[2] By January 1927, Dr. W.A. Alexander of Mobile, Alabama became the first pastor.[2] A year later, in 1928, the church building designed by architect Mark Lemmon (1889–1975) was erected.[2] From 1932 to 1937, Dr. Thomas W. Currie, Sr. served as the new pastor; he would later serve as President of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary.[2] The next pastor, Dr. Henry Wade DuBose of Spartanburg, South Carolina, served from 1938 to 1944.[2] Dr. William M. Elliott, Jr., who came from Druid Hills Presbyterian Church in Druid Hills, Georgia, served as pastor from 1944 to 1973.[2] Moreover, Peter Marshall (1902-1949) occasionally preached in the church.[3] Additionally, Dr. Arthur V. Boand became the first associate minister in 1950 and Dr. Edward A. Mohns became the second associate pastor in 1954.[2]

In 1973, Dr. B. Clayton Bell Sr., who came from the First Presbyterian Church in Rome, Georgia, became the new pastor.[2] Further associate pastors were Dr. Sherwood M. Strodel, Dr. Thomas Tyndall, Dr. Harry S. Hassall, Thomas Foley, Thomas Cook, Gareth Icenogle, Dr. Ace L. Tubbs, Peter Barnes, Paul Peterson, William A. Watson, Jean Marie Thorndike, Russell Jonas, Robert H.Thompson, Andrew Adair, Ellen Schulz, Jeffrey Schulz, Martha Thorson, Murray Gossett, Joseph Parker, Chris Robinson, Don Riley, Max Reddick and Marshall Zieman.[2] In 2000, Rev. Dr. Ronald W. Scates of Baltimore, Maryland became the new pastor[2] until stepping down in 2013. The congregation was then served by Rev. Joe Rightmyer, interim Senior Pastor, until the Rev. Bryan Dunagan was called in 2014.[4][5]

Disputes with and Withdrawal from PC(USA)[edit]

In May 1991 HPPC held a vote to withdraw from PC(USA). Although a simple majority voted in favor of withdrawal (2,563 voting to withdraw and 2,001 voting against), a 2/3 majority was required to withdraw, and thus (at that time) HPPC remained within PC(USA).[6] (A dissident group left HPPC and ultimately formed what is now Park Cities Presbyterian Church.)

The issue of withdrawal came up again in 2013; this time, the withdrawal motion passed with 89 percent approval, with a similar majority voting to affiliate with ECO.[7] As of 2014; however, HPPC has sought and obtained a temporary injunction against Grace Presbytery (the presbytery having oversight for all PC(USA) churches in Dallas County), prohibiting them from establishing an "administrative commission" over HPPC.[8][9]

Settlement and Dismissal from PC(USA)[edit]

On September 9, 2014, an announcement was made that Highland Park Presbyterian Church will pay $7.8 million to Grace Presbytery in order to obtain both a release of its obligations under the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s trust clause and ecclesiastical dismissal from the denomination.[10]

The settlement agreement – which also includes an agreement between Highland Park and Grace Presbytery to send a joint letter to the members of Highland Park allowing them the opportunity to choose whether they wish to remain affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) – will resolve the pending lawsuit between Grace Presbytery and Highland Park.

The lawsuit involved a dispute between Highland Park and Grace Presbytery over whether the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s trust clause, which Highland Park agreed to abide by, is legally enforceable under Texas law. Ultimately, three experts in Texas trust law retained by Grace Presbytery agreed that Highland Park’s agreement to hold its property in trust for the use and benefit of the denomination was enforceable under neutral principles of Texas law.[11]

In an attempt to privately resolve their disagreement before trial, Highland Park and Grace Presbytery entered into a mediation process presided over by former federal Judge Jeff Kaplan on February 21 and August 25, 2014. Judge Kaplan worked to bring the parties to an agreement to resolve the case. The parties reached an agreement in principle at mediation, which obtained final approval of the parties on September 8, 2014. The $7.8 million settlement figure represents 26% of Highland Park’s “approximately thirty million dollars” of property, as alleged in Paragraph 18 of Highland Park’s amended petition filed in the lawsuit.[11]

Notable Members[edit]

Heiress Caroline Rose Hunt (born 1923) attends the church and has served as its first female deacon.[12] The funeral of her late sister, Margaret Hunt Hill (1915-2007), was held at the church.[13] Moreover, the Lyda Bunker Hunt Building is named in honor of their sister, who died as an infant in 1925.[2]

Ross Perot (born 1930) also attends the church.[14]


  • History of the Highland Park Presbyterian Church, Dallas, Texas, 1926-1967 (1967)[15]
  • The First Fifty Years: Highland Park Presbyterian Church, Dallas, Texas, 1926-1976[16]


  1. ^ http://www.dallasnews.com/news/community-news/park-cities/headlines/20131027-highland-park-presbyterian-votes-to-change-denominations.ece
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Highland Park Presbyterian Church: History
  3. ^ Catherine Marshall, A Man Called Peter: The Story of Peter Marshall, Chosen Books, 2002, p. 123 [1]
  4. ^ Highland Park Presbyterian Church: Rev. Joe Rightmyer
  5. ^ http://www.hppc.org/seniorpastor.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ http://www.dmagazine.com/publications/d-magazine/1996/may/religion-the-schism
  7. ^ http://www.hppc.org/default.aspx?p=89155&naid=15563>
  8. ^ http://www.hppc.org/assets/1711/temporary_injunction_conformed_copy.pdf
  9. ^ Under Presbyterian doctrine, a presbytery may establish such a commission to investigate issues such as schisms, and has the power to take over the Session and impose its own leadership. In its filings, HPPC sought the order because Grace Presbytery had purportedly set up such a commission to take over the Session of another congregation that had voted to leave PC(USA). Furthermore, HPPC noted that a recent Texas Supreme Court decision (which involved a San Angelo Episcopal parish) ruled that a unilateral change to denominational policy (in that case, the controversial Dennis Canon) was not sufficient to create a trust under Texas law, and sought a declaratory judgment as to who actually owned HPPC's real estate holdings (which consist of the main facility and over a dozen residences in University Park, and which HPPC estimated were valued at over $30 million.)
  10. ^ . 2014-09-10 http://thescoopblog.dallasnews.com/2014/09/highland-park-presbyterian-church-reaches-property-litigation-settlement.html/.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ a b http://www.gracepresbytery.org. Grace Presbytery http://www.gracepresbytery.org/grace-presbytery-announces-settlement-of-the-hppc-lawsuit/. Retrieved 10 September 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help); External link in |website= (help)
  12. ^ Texas Woman's University: Caroline Rose Hunt - 2009 Leadership Award Winner
  13. ^ Jaime S. Jordan, Margaret Hunt Hill dies at 91, Dallas Business Journal, Jun 15, 2007
  14. ^ James Hutchinson Smylie, A Brief History of the Presbyterians, Louisville, Kentucky: Geneva Press, 1996, p. 140 [2]
  15. ^ Google Books
  16. ^ Google Books