Qualifications for Church Office: Midway Session’s Report Card

The Midway Session has published qualifications for church office, but do they meet the standard?

The Midway Guardian has examined the nomination form and associated material supplied by the Session at Midway Presbyterian Church to its members. Considering the qualifications of men who are to be considered for service is wise and good. So is holding the men accountable that are currently in office for their spiritual abuse – which includes the bringing of false charges in the holy name of Jesus Christ.

Midway Session Report Card

In a document insert titled “Qualification for Church Office” the Session outlines the qualifications for elders of the church. Consider them below and the context provided by The Midway Guardian‘s Report Card for the Midway Session.

Above reproach Is the candidate living in such a way that he is seldom criticized for ungodly habits or actions?

The current Session at Midway is under unprecedented scrutiny internally and externally. The highest court of the PCA has ruled 19-0 that in the process of bringing unbiblical false charges against one their own Ruling Elders, that Senior Pastor David Hall exhibited bias as moderator, the conviction was wrong and delivered with no evidence, and that Associate Pastor Marc Harrington was wrong to craft evidence and add it to the record of the case after the trial.

Perhaps more embarrassing was the highest court’s assessment of the Midway Session’s reckless “Talley Resolution” (which redefined submission to them in dangerous ways) as “needlessly divisive” and contrary to the constitution of the Church and the Westminster Standards. No apologies have been issued as they near 50 days since being called to correction for their misuse of church discipline. Meanwhile they continue divisive secret trials against 3 other Ruling Elders who they are using the overturned Talley Resolution to persecute because they signed a credible report that exposed unconstitutional behavior and the written false attestations of Senior Pastor David Hall.

The highest court of the PCA also ruled previously that the Session at Midway was improperly “vetting” officer candidates to control the outcome of elder elections at the church, condemning their practices. In addition to these criticisms, Midway’s Session and Senior Pastor have also been called to correction multiple times by judicial commissions at the Northwest Georgia Presbytery that ruled they should apologize for “muting the voice” of the congregation though divisive attempts to control the outcome of pastoral selection processes at the church. Even now, the Northwest Georgia Presbytery is investigating “disorder” and “contention” at Midway.

There’ve been no apologies for any of the aforementioned misbehavior. Does this sound like it meets the standard of “above reproach”?

Above Reproach – Midway Session Grade: F

Husband of one wife Literally, this means a "one-woman man." is the candidate, if married, a loving and faithful husband: or  if single, is he above reproach in his relationships with women? The focus is on a candidate's purity in through, word, and deed, toward women, and faithfulness to one's wife.

The Midway Guardian is unaware of any ongoing infidelity on the Midway Session at this time.

Husband of one wife – Midway Session Grade: A

Temperate Is the candidate self-controlled in all areas of his life? Does he overindulge himself in any areas?

Certainly the Midway Session and Senior Pastor David Hall have overindulged in a propensity to demand submission. This has led to a prideful overuse and misuse of church discipline. Only men obsessed with their power would even conceive of a motion as absurd as the aforementioned Talley Resolution, let alone pass it. The resolution served one purpose only – to set the basis for blanket charges against any who oppose their rule. That is exactly how it has been used, even after it was overturned by the highest court of the PCA. Sadly, many of the communications the Session has penned in self-justification of their actions have been intemperate and inaccurate. Consider the prayer from Midway’s pulpit from Ruling Elder Scott Keesee that God would “destroy” the men responsible for this news website.

Temperate – Midway Session Grade: F

Prudent Is the candidate sound, reasonable, and wise in his thoughts, words, and deeds?

The Talley Resolution and the authoritarian mindset that undergirds it is the definition of imprudent. The highest court of the PCA determined that the Midway Session’s Talley Resolution “needlessly” divides the church body. And this isn’t the first time; consider Senior Pastor David Hall’s divisive manner of voting adopted a congregational meeting. This method was ruled to be unconstitutional and unwise by a judicial commission at the presbytery.

Even if the Session’s use of church discipline in recent times was justified – the manner in which they have conducted themselves is far from sound or wise. Consider the Session’s decision to conduct an all night secret trial! Or conduct secret trials over holidays that last for months at a time! Or to brutally disallow a man on trial’s wife to remain by his side during a prejudicial trial! From court practices to manipulations, and everything in between, the Midway Session’s behavior has been far from prudent. It is almost as if they relish the splitting of the church. Maybe this is the goal since Senior Pastor David Hall has preached on the virtues of “pruning” the congregation and “whacking” the wolves that are supposedly amongst them. Meanwhile he dismissively jokes about the complaints against his purge of his own Session.

Amidst all of this – Senior Pastor David Hall and the Session continue to fence the table and participate in Communion in an unworthy manner as the sacramental abuse has become commonplace.

Prudent – Midway Session Grade: F

Hospitable "love for strangers." Does the candidate meet people well, and is his home open to minister to Christians as well as non-Christians?

The Midway Session is not hospitable. Apart from dismissing members of the church from witnessing their “judgments” against other long standing trusted members of the church, the list of the “bodies behind the church bus” who have been asked to leave the church or threatened to cooperate with the leadership is long.

The Midway Session and the pastoral staff at the church take retributive actions as a rule against any who oppose them. They have disqualified men from office for filing complaints, and have subjected others to church discipline (placing them on a path to excommunication) for exercising their right to expose unconstitutional and unbiblical behavior in the church. Subtraction and not multiplication is the ministry philosophy of Midway’s Session as they dismiss thriving ministries at the church because they do not care for certain participants. Consider again the prayer for the destruction of those with whom they disagree…

If their witness demonstrates so little love for their own members of the church, how much less must they minister to “non-christians?”. There is no love in their actions, even though Christ said this would be the way we could identify His chosen ones… Instead the Session’s witness is comprised of pride, partiality, and lust for the maintenance of power. The community must sense this as the church is a small body compared to its peak prior to David Hall’s appointment as Senior Pastor.

Hospitable – Midway Session Grade: F

Able to teach Is the candidate able to communicate biblical truth to either small groups, large groups, or individuals?

This qualifications speaks to the ability of a man who discern and know the Word of God. Can he apply the Scripture? Perhaps the biggest example of their inability to do this was their handling of their charges against Ruling Elder Philip Dudt. The highest court of the PCA determined that the charges were false and without evidence and that they “clearly erred in judgment” in this matter. It has been well established that false charges are a form of false teaching. Couple this incredible failure of discernment to the mistreatment of the pulpit in term of messaging, and the grade is far from passing…

Able to teach – Midway Session Grade: F

Not pugnacious Is he prone to fighting and arguing with family and friends?

The Midway Session is actively destroying itself and ripping itself asunder through its overzealous use of church discipline. How many thousands of man-hours have they spent on litigation against their own members as opposed to Gospel ministry? One might be pressed to find a church whose leadership has been the recent subject of so many judicial actions, appeals, and complaints in the entire history of the PCA.

So zealous for a fight are David Hall and his Session that they actually voted against “A Motion for Peace” that would have begun healing at the church.

Not pugnacious – Midway Session Grade: F

Gentle, uncontentious Does he have an "even" temper and a reasonable and teachable spirit? 

Given the aggression shown to so many in the form of misused church discipline, the Midway Session has signaled clearly their leadership philosophy is “submit or else.” Even when shown to be in error, neither Senior Pastor David Hall nor any of his Yes-Men on the Session can apologize, admit error, or attempt reconciliation or healing. Their stubborn refusal to even acknowledge the ruling exonerating Ruling Elder Philip Dudt, let alone apologize for the sin they committed in connection with those charges, demonstrates that these “shepherds” do not rule well and do not exhibit a “teachable spirit.” Instead they are signaling that they “cannot be wrong.”

Gentle, uncontentious – Midway Session Grade: F

Free from the love of money Is the accumulation of material wealth an excessive object of concern for him? Is he generous?

The Midway Guardian is unaware of this particular worldly lust being a problem on the Session of Midway as the accumulation of power seems to be the priority.

Free from the love of money – Midway Session Grade: A

Manages his household well Does he lead his wife and children well? Does he have the respect of his wife and children?

The Midway Guardian is unaware of any prominent issues regarding members of the Midway Session being unable to lead their households well. It is worth noting however that many of their public actions at the church have set an extraordinarily poor example for all who observe them – including their own families. Passing an execrable motion that demands submission by disciplining the opposition and bringing false charges in the name of Jesus Christ and His church are no small errors. To fail to acknowledge and apologize for it is even worse. Their personal homes may be in order, but the house of God that they took vows to sustain is in total disarray under their failed leadership.

Manages his household well – Midway Session Grade: F

Not a new convert Does he have a track record of Christian maturity and growth in grace?

The Midway Session may not be made up new converts, but their inability to apologize when shown to be in sin, their quickness to turn to discipline as opposed to conciliation, and their inability to discern sin (ie: finding sin where there was clearly none) are prominent signs of immaturity.

Not a new convert – Midway Session Grade C

A good reputation with those outside the church  Does he have a good reputation at his place of employment and in his neighborhood?

For the reasons outlined above in “Above reproach” – the Midway Session’s reputation is far from unstained. Many across the denomination and other reformed communities are watching what is unfolding at Midway under Senior Pastor David Hall and his Session’s leadership in horror. The Midway Guardian receives mail from many of them – some of whom share their own horror stories from past interactions with Midway’s leadership.

A good reputation with those outside the church – Midway Session Grade: F

Able to encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it  Elders must be informed doctrinally. In the PCA, an Elder must understand and believe the system of doctrine summarized in the Westminster Confession of Faith and Larger and Shorter Catechisms.

Hypocrisy against this standard could not be too strongly applied to the Midway Session. These are the men who under the leadership of Senior Pastor David Hall convicted Ruling Elder Philip Dudt of sin when there was none on the back of the Talley Resolution that has been shown to be against the PCA standards and the Westminster Confession of Faith, in a manner contrary to the Catechisms, with no evidence, under prejudicial circumstances, assigning malicious motive where there was none, and upon being being utterly refuted on all the aforementioned points – they continue to refuse to acknowledge or apologize for this wrongdoing.

The Talley Resolution is not sound doctrine. It is an example of false teaching on submission. Instead of refuting and opposing such false teaching, they authored it and stand by it. The only men the Session has refuted and opposed are those amongst them who have tried to call them back from their misbehavior.

Failing Grades…

In light of the above report card, The Midway Guardian gives the Session of Midway Presbyterian Church and its Senior Pastor David Hall a failing grade. If Christ’s church at Midway is to recover, it is in need of new leadership.

The accountability for the egregious behavior of the Session is each of their responsibilities, but Senior Pastor David Hall is particularly at fault for leading the Session in its divisive spirit. For the good of the ministry, the Session should vacate, and that includes the Senior Pastor.

The congregation of the church by many reports is prepared to see that this outcome is achieved if the stubbornness and pride of the leadership is not soon supplanted by grace and love.