Midway Presbyterian Church’s Gentle Servant.
Given that Midway Presbyterian Church is in the unprecedented situation of having a third of the Ruling Elders elected by its congregation indicted, charged, and suspended in recent times by the Session majority led by Senior Pastor David Hall, the Midway Guardian Editorial Board is pleased to continue the series: Faithful Servant Profiles. This series is intended to highlight a faithful servant from Midway’s Session who has been on the receiving end of misused church discipline.
Ruling Elder James Scott
Many who have spent any time around Midway Presbyterian Church know of a special man. A man with a faithful legacy at the church and within its surrounding community – James Scott.
James was born into, what was at the time, a small church in a rural section of Cobb County Georgia over 75 years ago. The roots of his family tree run deep in the history of Midway Presbyterian Church. In many ways, the church cannot have its history told separate from the contributions and service of the Scott family. James’ ancestors were founding members of Midway Presbyterian Church, and a member of his family has served in the role of Clerk of Session since the church’s founding in 1850. James served faithfully in this capacity himself for over half of a century. 2020 marked the first time in the church’s history that a Scott did not serve as Clerk of Session. The contributions of the Scott family are seen throughout the campus of Midway Presbyterian Church. For instance, a fellowship hall at the church was named after James’ mother.
James has always made it is his personal business to make visitors and new members at Midway feel welcomed. Many affiliated with the church will have interacted frequently with James through Sunday School, morning worship, and the various ministries for which he has been a loyal contributor and participant. Anyone who has interacted with James knows that he exhibits the love of Christ in his dealings with others. He is always gentle, always kind, and ever seeks ways to share what he has to benefit those around him.
James bears a gentle demeanor, but as a teacher, is able to articulate the Gospel message with passion and strength. His love for the Lord, the people around him, and his church is obvious. He is an obvious student of the Word and as a mature Christian has mentored many with his wise counsel – the clear product of walking closely with the Lord for decades. James exhibits a pious reverence for the Lord that is worthy of emulation.
James has been a leader in business and the civic affairs of the local community. He has used his influence in this sphere to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ at every opportunity. As a Ruling Elder at Midway Presbyterian Church, he served well as Clerk of Session, maintaining a calm and steady style as a leader – always ready to give and receive Biblical counsel. James is a man who trusts God in all things. He stood faithfully by his wife who battled a long and ultimately fatal illness. Through this time, James did not express doubt in God’s timing or plan. After a season, God blessed him with a new spouse.
Any objective look at the man James Scott delivers nothing less than the picture of a man whose life is anchored on the solid rock of Jesus Christ.
Charged and Suspended…
Sadly, Ruling Elder James Scott was indicted and suspended from his office and is awaiting trial for a manmade offense (outlined in a secret report) by the Session majority under Senior Pastor David Hall’s leadership following his signing of a credible report. The Session rejected James’ ”Motion for Peace”, where as a gentle servant, he sought to reduce tension at the church. Further, the Session had denied him reasonable indulgences at his upcoming trial, including a request for an independent moderator and a court reporter. James will be tried in secret against his will – just like his fellow Ruling Elders Clay David, Don Barnett, and Philip Dudt. He was charged alongside his brothers Rulings Elders Clay David and Don Barnett who stand accused of the same manmade offense of signing a credible report.
The Session expects the church to believe that this man who served faithfully for decades in a variety of positions has all of the sudden become a slanderer who has signed his name on a divisive letter. Interestingly, multiple entities with the denomination have determined that the letter is not slanderous but in fact credible and worthy of investigation.
James’ crime? Signing a credible report to the PCA’s Stated Clerk outlining alleged unconstitutional behavior at the local presbytery. James stands charged even though the signing of a credible report of this nature is a constitutionally protected right and Midway’s Session has been warned in the past by the Standing Judicial Commission (SJC) of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) that asking higher courts for review is a protected right of all members of the church.
How can it be that a man who has served the Lord faithfully over his lifetime, committed to gentleness and prayer in his local church, is all of the sudden charged and suspended for exercising his right alongside 12 other ordained men to alert higher courts of the PCA of procedural missteps in lower courts? Perhaps his conviction was more motivated by the politics of control on the local Session than by any “offense” he has committed.