RE Tippins publicly predicted Midway’s current situation. He’s said more since. Shouldn’t we listen?
It was during the contentious congregational meeting of July 2020 where Midway Presbyterian Church was being asked to elect 3 pastors as a slate simultaneously to the role of Associate Pastor. This vote (the legitimacy of which remains an open question) granted three new voting Teaching Elders access to our Session’s decision making. Unlike the church’s Ruling Elders, these new voters would not have terms, and would not have to be reelected by the congregation.
It was amidst this meeting that a man whose unimpeachable character is widely known across civil and ministry circles came forward. A man who was named the Cobb County Citizen of the Year, a Senator in the state of Georgia, a member of Midway Presbyterian Church for over 60 years, 22 of which he served as a Ruling Elder and 8 as a Deacon. RE Lindsey Tippins gently warned his congregation saying:
“…But I will say this, from my experience, the action we’re being asked to take today is without precedent, and it gives me great concern in terms of this church going forward and the pitfalls that we may find as a result of it. What we’re being asked to do is tantamount to saying anyone who serves faithfully and well as an Assistant Pastor should be automatically elevated to Associate Pastor because they serve well. And we should confer upon them the right to vote on the Session in the matters that are very very important to this church. Structurally it looks to me like we have a defect in what we are doing today. We’re saying as a blanket group we’re elevating all who are serving and have served in this church, currently serving in this church, as an Assistant Pastor we’re elevating them to Associate Pastor. I do not believe we’re following what is prescribed in the Book of Church Order to carry out in decency and order for the election of Associate Pastor…
…I believe that’s a mistake. And I believe it’s one, that if we take it, we’ll live to regret it. I think we need to think well about what we’re doing and think deeply.”RE Lindsey Tippins, July 2020 Midway Congregational Meeting
It was not conjecture. It was not fear mongering. RE Tippins’ words portended the storm of complaints and indictments that was soon to hit Midway Church. Today, many in the membership may truly “regret” the “pitfalls” the election of three Associate Pastors as a slate has had on the peace and unity of the church. Just ask those in the shepherding groups of Ruling Elders Dudt, David, Barnett, and Scott — all of whom have had their elders suspended from office in the last year. Judge for yourself, is Midway a more united or divided place since the election in July 2020 – Despite the assurances made by Senior Pastor David Hall and his Session that indicated that this action was “thoroughly Biblical, well deserved, and promises enhanced stability and ministry for our church”, would bring “reformed vigor to our Session”, was “very helpful and Biblical” and would be “a positive step” that “strengthens Midway for the future” (just to name a few).
The structurally defective manner in which the Session of Midway Presbyterian Church has been arranged is a result of the disputed election of July 2020, the new teaching elder voters lending their support to the ongoing persecution of long time Ruling Elders on the Session. Judge for yourself, would multiple complaints have been dismissed by the Session, Ruling Elder Dudt have been convicted, and Ruling Elders David, Barnett, and Scott been suspended without the involvement of Midway’s new permanent voting Associate Pastors?
While most may have been witness to RE Tippins’ warning to the congregation about the election, they may not be aware that he was the chief signatory (being joined by 12 other ordained men) of the 40-5 credible report to the PCA Stated Clerk that alleged important delinquencies and grossly unconstitutional proceedings at the Northwest Georgia Presbytery. This report (in part) exposed blatantly unconstitutional actions in how Midway’s Associate Pastors were installed as well as a mishandling of an ecclesiastical commission’s ruling against the Midway Session.
If you are a member of Midway Presbyterian Church, judge for yourself, did RE Tippins properly diagnose and predict the “pitfalls” the church now experiences? Should we pay extra attention to what he and 12 other ordained men have revealed to us in the 40-5 credible report? It is after all for signing the report (which is a constitutional right afforded them) that Ruling Elders David, Barnett, and Scott have been suspended.
If there were truly important delinquencies and grossly unconstitutional proceedings in connection to Midway Presbyterian Church, would not every officer’s and member’s vow to promote and study the purity and peace of the church compel everyone to pay attention? One thing is for sure – RE Tippins’ predictions of the future seem far more accurate than those of David Hall and his Session.