Friday, March 30, 2007

Synod PJC Decides in Cast Against Presbytery of Olympia!

We win!!

Here is the text from the Synod of Alaska/Northwest’s PJC decision…

Alaska Northwest



Complainant(s)Barlow J. Buescher, Dave
R. Brown, Mary D. McGonigal, Jeanne

Howell, Serena Sullivan, Eileen Dunn

Wayne H. Keller, Don E. Keller, Dwight

W. Whipple, David. R. Kegley, F. Mark

Dowdy, Brian Heath, R. Sidney Cloud

Isaac H. Jung, Irene Van Arnam, Michael

Baugh, Chuck Jenson, Donna Lee, and

the session of Lakewood Presbyterian


The Presbytery of Olympia

) No. 06-R1


This is a remedial case which has come before this Permanent Judicial Commission as a result of a complaint filed by the above named complainants against the Presbytery of Olympia, respondent.


The Permanent Judicial Commission finds that it has jurisdiction, that the complainant has standing to complain, that the complaint was properly and timely filed, and that the complaint states a claim upon which relief can be granted.

At a meeting at Church of the Indian Fellowship in Tacoma, Washington, on

September 21, 2006, Olympia Presbytery adopted the following Resolution:

“We hereby declare that in our discernment of the movement of the Holy Spirit, every mandate of the Book of Order (2005-2007 is an essential of reformed polity. Therefore, any violation of a mandate of the Book of Order (2005-2007) constitutes a failure to adhere to the essentials of reformed polity and thus presents a bar to ordination and instillation”

Following this action, the complainants, believing that the adoption of the foregoing Resolution constituted an irregularity under the Constitution, filed a Complaint with the Stated Clerk of the Synod of Alaska Northwest concerning the following particular allegations:

(a) The Resolution, insofar as it purports to commit the presbytery to act contrary to the General Assembly’s Authoritative Interpretation, violate the presbytery’s duty to honor the Constitution and to implement the decisions of higher governing bodies. (Book Of Order G-1.0400, G- 4.0301 and G-11.0103t)

(b) The Resolution denies the freedom of conscience that is to be afforded to all officers and candidates, and breaches the presbytery’s duty to show “mutual forbearance” in non-essential matters, by curtailing individual candidates’ opportunity to present, and to have meaningfully considered, principled objections to standards that may not be deemed “essentials” of Reformed faith and polity. (Book of Order G-1.0301, G-1305, G-6.0108)

(c) The Resolution constitutes a denial and abdication of the presbytery’s responsibility meaningfully to asses both the fitness of individual candidates, and the validity of any principled objections such candidates might assert regarding church standards, during examination of fitness for office.

(Book of Order G-6.0108)

(d) The Resolution constitutes a misuse of the presbytery’s discretion in assessing the fitness of individual candidates, by converting what are supposed to be case-by-case assessments into a mandatory policy that applies without distinction to all cases. ( Cf Johnston v. Heartland Presbytery, Rem. Case 217-2 (GAPJC 2004); PCUSA Minutes, Pt 1 p.68 (1998); Simmons v. Presbytery of Suwanee, PCUSA Minutes, Pt 1 p.114 (GAPJC 1985)).

(e) The Resolution promulgates an erroneous view that all of our constitutional standards lend themselves to a single, uncontroverted interpretation, disregarding the unavoidable complexities and interpretive work that proper application of Scriptural and confessional standards entails. ( Cf Book of Order G-6.0108b;Londonderry Presbyterian Church v. Presbytery of Northern New England, Rem. Case 213-2 GAPJC 2000)). It therefore invites members of Olympia Presbytery and its committees, as well as individual candidates, to abdicate their responsibility carefully to consider the meaning of church standards, both when attempting to comply with them personally and when applying them to others,

(f) The resolution denies and contravenes the presbytery’s obligation to give serious and meaningful consideration to the choices of ministerial leadership made by congregations under its oversight. ( Cf. Book of Order G-1.0306, G-6.0107, G-14.0501b, G-14.0502-0507)

(g) The Resolution forecloses, within the bounds of Olympia Presbytery, processes of dialogue and discernment that are fundamental to the church’s self-professed identity as “the Church reformed always reforming, by the Spirit of God.” (Book of Order G-2.0200 G-4.0301, G-18.0101)

h. The Resolution ignores, and forecloses more constructive responses to, the strong urging of the 217th General Assembly that all governing bodies “engage[] in processes of intensive discernment through worship, community building, study, and collaborative work” to address issues that currently divide the church. Such disregard of General Assembly’s guidance denies and contravenes commitments to openness and connectionalism that are fundamental to our polity. (Book of Order G-10400, G-3.0401, G-4.0302, G-11.0103t).

After a hearing on March 20, 2007, in Seattle, Washington in which both parties were represented by counsel, the PJC, voting on each individual allegation, voted not to sustain allegations a-h.

The Synod Permanent JC is not able to sustain specific alleged violations of the constitution.

We remind and strongly urge the Presbytery of Olympia to hear again the call of the 217th GA to engage in processes of intensive discernment through worship, community building, study, and collaborative work. The PJC urges both sides to hear and consider again the words, of D-1.0103 calling us to “the traditional, biblical obligations to conciliate, mediate, and adjust difference without strife…..”

The resolution, adopted by Olympia Presbytery on September 21, 2006, does not preclude Olympia Presbytery from conducting a meaningful examination to assess the fitness of individual candidates on a case by case basis, and the PJC reminds the presbytery that they are obligated to conduct such examinations in a thorough and fair manner.

--------------- ORDER ------------------

IT IS ORDERED that the Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of Olympia read this Decision, including the PJC accompanying statement, to the Presbytery at its first meeting, that the Presbytery enter the full Decision upon its minutes, and that an excerpt from those minutes showing entry of the Decision be sent to the Stated Clerk of the Synod. (D-7.0701)

Selina Everson a member of the Permanent Judicial Commission was not present and took no part in the proceedings.

Dated this_____20_ day of __March___ , 2007__
day month year

[signed] _______________________________________

Moderator, Permanent Judicial Commission

[signed] _______________________________________

Clerk, Permanent Judicial Commission


At 10:45 AM , Anonymous -Kyle said...

Great News! Now we just have to pray that PJCs elsewhere will find similarly in the other complaints.

-My wife was on jury duty the week before you and was on a medical lawsuit (can't talk about anything else due to HIPPA regulations). It was very heart wrenching for her and she has seriously thought about not serving on a jury again.

Have a great Easter!

At 3:40 PM , Blogger David M. Smith said...

Pastor Lance,

Any chance you could translate this for your readers?

It’s not exactly reader friendly for those of us not in the know.

At 4:43 PM , Blogger Pastor Lance said...

I will try to remember to "translate" it after Easter. I have decided to keep away from denominational politics for Holy Week.



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