The fate of RE Dudt is in the hands of the Standing Judicial Commission Panel and they have likely decided.
All that is left for the Panel to do is send their report to the Stated Clerk of the PCA. Their report, which will certainly be approved by the full SJC later this month, will conclude nearly 18 months of the Midway Session dragging Phil Dudt through the mud for simply sending a July 2020 email to the congregation suggesting an alternative motion for an upcoming congregation meeting.
Many on the Midway Session took great offense with RE Dudt for publicly disagreeing with their majority. By their own admission, they were angry at Phil for opposing them. Three months later, four elders decided they would bring charges against RE Philip Dudt and presented an indictment to the Session..
The indictment was seriously flawed. RE Dudt’s email stated the purpose of that email was to ask the congregation to postpone the meeting to “allow time for prayerful consideration”; however, the indictment redefined Phil’s motive by stating it was to slander the “Session’s good name”.
The indictment stated that RE Dudt violated the “express will” of the Session by sending out a SJC decision concerning Midway’s illegal election processes; however, nowhere in any Session minutes was any order ever given not to distribute that decision. The indictment also stated that Phil violated the ninth commandment; but in the all night secret trial, no Session member could come up with anything said by RE Dudt that was not true.
This ill-fated indictment of RE Philip Dudt was signed by four members of the Midway Session:
- RE Scott Keesee was the primary author of the indictment. He called the meeting to present the indictment to the Session and went on to volunteer to prosecute the case. Interesting enough, RE Keesee was not involved in defending the Session’s prosecution of RE Dudt in Phil’s appeal process.
- RE Jeff Talley, who with Keesee called the meeting to indict Phil, is the elder who wrote the infamous and clearly unconstitutional Talley Resolution. This resolution, making it an offense for an officer to publicly disagree with the Session, passed the Session in September of 2020. The resolution was then used to charge RE Dudt in October of 2020 for an email sent in July of 2020. RE Talley did not run for re-election later that year.
- RE John Garmon was defeated for re-election for elder shortly after signing the indictment. He has been the only elder that has faced re-election since signing any of the recent indictments.
- RE Wes Richardson, the final signer, is up for re-election later this year.
Sessions should follow the procedures in BCO 31-2 when considering indicting a member of the church. Those procedures start with an investigation and if there is a strong presumption of guilt, an indictment is drawn. However in this case, these four elders simply brought charges without a proper investigation.
Dr. Morton Smith, the first Stated Clerk of the PCA, states in this commentary “Due to the seriousness of all ecclesiastical process, which is done in the name of the Church, and viewed as sin against Christ, great caution is to be used before a church Court accept charges against an individual”. Dr. Smith also states referring to those that bring charges “He must show probable cause made against the accused, or he himself will become subject to process by the Court as a slanderer.”
These men skipped the basic steps of due process and never did prove that Phil Dudt’s email violated the moral code of our Lord; therefore, these charges were man-made and not Christ-made. Is there a more serious offense then for elders to misuse their God-given authority of Church discipline?
What will these men do if the SJC determines the prosecution of RE Philip Dudt was unbiblical, unconstitutional, or simply unjust?
We will all know the answer to that question very soon.