David Hall has now put the entire congregation on a rollercoaster.
On Saturday, the Midway Session disqualified the petition to discuss and vote on Midway’s pastoral relationship with David Hall by striking 24 names presumably for no longer being members. No one except the session members know the 24 names that were removed. Many of the signers are now wondering if they are still members.
Removing someone from the membership roll is not as simple as a session vote and even someone just clicking on a field in Realm (the church database system). The Book of Church Order has very clear rules outlined in BCO 38-4:
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
Are we supposed to believe the Session did all the above with the 24 names that were removed? Is it even possible based on the rules set forth in the BCO for a name to be removed without the knowledge of the member? Are we to believe the petitioners were able to contact these people, but not the session?
Removing names from a church roll without proper procedure is much more serious than a few session members playing fast and loose with the BCO. Midway Presbyterian Church is incorporated and all members of the church are also stakeholders of the corporation. The bylaws of Midway Presbyterian Church Inc. state in Article Eight that “Membership in the corporation shall be governed by the procedures set forth in the Book of Church Order of the Presbyterian Church in America”. According to the Article Four of the bylaws, the members of the Session are also the “Trustees” of the church. Each one of them has a fiduciary responsibly to each member of the church, including those that were improperly removed from the roll. We recommend the current session members brush up on what “fiduciary duty” means.
Thanks to David Hall and what is left of his session, the church is scheduled to have a congregational meeting at 9:45 on Sunday morning when it is not even clear who is and who is not allowed to vote. This kind of negligence by a governing body of a church can take years to unravel. Midway member, whoever you still are, is that what you want? Maybe it is time for a fresh start.