Does Fear Motivate David Hall’s Session?

Divisive session actions have underlying drivers…

The session has gone out of its way to fight with every tool, constitutional or otherwise, to shut down active complaints and reports against their actions.  If the session truly believes in our Presbyterian court system, then why fight so hard and why use questionable tactics?  If they truly believe that their fellow Elders at the Presbytery and General Assembly are, like them, capable ordained men, then why not let the cases make their way though the court system, knowing that justice will be the result?

The session has made it clear that they think the complaints about the congregational meeting and the 40-5 credible report are without merit. If that is indeed the case, then surely the higher courts would come to the same conclusion. The problem is that they are not so sure that their actions are constitutional and, to date, the higher courts have generally not agreed with the actions of Midway’s session.  The session has been found to have erred numerous times across the span of several years and that does not even take into account what the SJC will ultimately conclude based on the 40-5 credible report.

The gears of justice should be allowed to turn, resulting in an outcome that all should agree to submit to.  Instead of letting the court system work, David Hall’s session has tried to jam the gears at every possible point.  Let’s look at just a few of the session’s actions that this website has reported on:

  • David Hall attempted to scare away the initial complaints with baseless threats against the Michaelson brothers of circularizing the court.  By utilizing scare tactics and the visage that he is an unassailable master of parliamentary procedure, he intimidates those who might dare continue.  This time it did not work and the complaints proceeded to Presbytery.
  • Utilizing his extensive network of contacts at the Northwest Georgia Presbytery, David Hall’s session unconstitutionally biased the entire Presbytery in January by putting forth and voting to pass a motion to re-direct the Presbytery-assigned ecclesiastical commission’s results (which were unfavorable to the session) through a separate study committee.  This is explicitly forbidden in BCO chapters 39 and 43.  This was a stall tactic and attempt to water down and call into question the commission’s findings.
  • Elder Whitaker put forth an overture to retroactively legalize what the session had done at the congregational meeting.
  • The session voted down Elder James Scott’s motion for peace, which urged them to wait on the courts.
  • The session utilized every parliamentary stall tactic available to not allow the Presbytery to vote on the congregational meeting complaints, successfully stalling a vote for over a year.  In April, David Hall made a motion to the Presbytery to create a study committee to clarify church court process.  This was a transparent attempt to create a feeling within the Presbytery that the BCO was unclear, thereby biasing Presbytery to disagree with the commission’s findings.
  • The session studied how to charge all the active Elders that signed a credible report about the unconstitutional actions at the January Presbytery meeting.
  • They then actually charged those Elders and stripped them of their duties (and their vote on the session).
  • The three remaining teaching elders authored and submitted a formal objection to the Presbytery’s vote on the complaints about the congregational meeting.

You must ask why so much effort was put forth by the session if they knew that they were in the right from the start.  Why would so much pain be inflicted on the elders that disagree with the majority of the session?  Why would a competent session risk ripping their own church in two if they were just going to be vindicated by higher courts? For ruling elders that have jobs and lives outside the church, this course of action makes no sense. 

Why the TE’s Care…

For teaching elders who have a personal vested interest in their paychecks, benefits, and jobs, the actions to date make a lot of sense. David Hall knows full well that the session has erred and the PCA’s Standing Judicial Commission (SJC) will ultimately bring forth rulings that do not concur with their position.  His past actions were motivated by the fact that he knew the only way they could win was to manipulate the system before the cases got to the SJC and he loses his local protective network resources.  But now it is too late as there are currently four cases on the SJC’s 2021 docket involving Midway’s session.

Losing these cases at the higher courts would undermine David Hall’s credibility, reveal the dirty politics to the entire congregation, and ultimately hurt his bottom line.  If any of the complaints, credible reports, or indictments ultimately backfire and result in charges against members of the session, then the results could be dire for the one at the center of the session. Remember, David Hall was called out by name in the Presbytery’s ecclesiastical commission report as having violated BCO 20-5.  Furthermore, David Hall falsely attested that the congregation had voted to appoint persons to sign the calls for the three assistant pastors, thereby violating BCO 20-6 as well as the 9th Commandment.  Both of these offenses could lead to charges against him personally.  Charges could result in formal rebuke, censure, removal from office, or more. David Hall is all too comfortable making his roughly $175,000 per year salary and he is not going to allow charges to come against him without a fight.  What we see at Midway today is exactly what happens when pride indwells a man.  Proverbs 21:24 reminds us “The proud and arrogant person – “Mocker” is his name – behaves with insolent fury.”  Desperation oftentimes is seen as rash and inscrutable behavior.  What could possibly better demonstrate insolent fury than charging Elder James Scott?