HOUSTON The oldest congregation in Houston has decided not to split from the nation s largest Presbyterian body.

First Presbyterian Church was considering the split after Presbyterian Church USA left it up to local congregations to decide if they want to ordain gay clergy.

Members voted Sunday with 1,086 members voted to separate, while 596 voted against it. However, 1,121 votes were needed for the motion to pass that s just 36 votes short of majority needed.

I believe in the sovereignty of God. I believe the word of God is from God and that was my big issue. I don t think we need to water down the word of God, so I voted to leave, one member said.

We went in there expecting to vote against it, but we ended up voting for it because some of the speakers were quite compelling, another member said.

The largest congregation in the state, up in Dallas, has voted to join forces with the breakaway movement.

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