The Midway Session sent out dozens of letters removing members from the membership roll last Saturday, the same day as setting the date for congregational meeting.
The Midway Guardian has learned that several families are receiving letters stating they are no longer members of Midway Presbyterian Church. According to at least some of the letters, these families were booted from the church by the newly created Session’s “Shepherding Commission” as early as March, but are just now receiving notification. So far, 100% of the removed members that have reached out to us are saying they had attended several times in the last year and no one from the “Shepherding Commission” had reached out to them.
This behavior of the Midway Session sheds light on the document recently added to Midway’s website titled “Clerk Statement on Removing Members”. In that document, this statement is made: “The Session has been removing those in question starting March 30, 2022. We did not know at that time who was on any petition seeking to remove Pastor Hall.” It may be true that they didn’t know who signed the petition in March, but they knew there was a petition and they certainly knew who signed it long before Saturday night.
In that same document, the clerk gave one of the reasons for removing a member is: “If it has been one or more years with no regular attendance (customarily at least half the time) or giving.” Giving? How do the elders and pastors know who is giving? From 1850, when the church was founded, through recently, no one but the treasurer had access to the giving records. For the last fifty plus years, Treasurer Fred Warren has had the sacred responsibility of keeping those record confidential. The Midway Guardian has learned that Fred Warren was released from the position of Treasurer by the deacons a couple weeks ago and now it appears there are little controls surrounding the once confidential giving records.
Elder Ernie Hawley, one of the signers of the unconstitutional indictment against the three charged elders, is now the top administrator of Realm. (Realm is the database that stores all church records including donations.) The Midway Guardian has learned that Mr. Hawley has given access to such records to several deacons and elders among others. If several people have access to how much you give, you can count on that information is no longer a secret.
As we stated two days ago on this site, the constitution of the church determines how members are to be removed, not a newly created session commission. BCO 38-4 states:
38-4. When a member of a particular church has willfully neglected the church for a period of one year, or has made it known that he has no intention of fulfilling the church vows, then the Session, continuing to exercise pastoral discipline (BCO 27-1a and 27-4) in the spirit of Galatians 6:1, shall remind the member, if possible both in person and in writing, of the declarations and promises by which he entered into a solemn covenant with God and His Church (BCO 57-5, nos. 3-5), and warn him that, if he persists, his name shall be erased from the roll.
If after diligently pursuing such pastoral discipline, and after further inquiry and due delay, the Session is of the judgment that the member will not fulfill his membership obligations in this or any other branch of the Visible Church (cf. BCO 2-2), then the Session shall erase his name from the roll. This erasure is an act of pastoral discipline (BCO 27-1a) without process. The Session shall notify the person, if possible, whose name has been removed.Book of Church Order, Presbyterian Church in America, Chapter 38, Paragraph 4
To add to all the other messes, here is the latest mess the Session has now created: There is going be a meeting at 9:45 Sunday morning, minutes before Sunday School, to vote to retain David Hall and to get rid of four sitting elders. Regardless of the outcome, there are at least several dozen members that have been unconstitutionally purged from the membership rolls and they are just finding out three or four days before the meeting (if the letter even shows up in time). That is truly a recipe for more divisiveness, division, complaints, and charges. Midway desperately needs a fresh start, unfortunately David Hall and what remains of the Session just disenfranchised a bunch of voters. So who is really being divisive?