RE Whitaker Circulates Motion to Strip Elders James Scott, Don Barnett, and Clay David From Their Duties of Sacred Office

Elder Bob Whitaker appeared to ask the Midway Session to consider stripping these respected elders of their duties without process…

Besides being a censure without due process as required by the Book of Church Order, such an action would also, in effect, remove three men from service that possess over 100 years of combined ordained service between them.

The motion opens by implying that elders Scott, David, and Barnett have lost their trustworthiness and credibility, and then states that those qualities are required to be assigned important duties of office.

The proposed motion is a response to the filing of a constitutionally permitted 40-5 credible report with the General Assembly outlying the questionable procedures that took place during the January 2021 Northwest Georgia Presbytery meeting.

Here is the text of RE Whitaker’s motion which will be considered at the May stated Session meeting:

“The Session …

I.   …deems that the various responses from brothers James Scott, Clay David and Don Barnett are inadequate to restore their trustworthiness and credibility in that their attempted responses demonstrate their failure to accept Session counsel which advised them to both:

 – revise their previous or joint April conditional “apology” statements and 

 – comply with the Session resolution of March 8, 2021 to repudiate, repent of, and seek forgiveness for (and implicitly not to re-defend) their participation in the letter they co-signed, dated Feb. 14, 2021 to the General Assembly publicly alleging serious wrongdoing by their fellow elders in 2 church courts.  This in light of 1 Tim. 5:19 and Matthew 18:15-18 [*].

[*] Matt. 18 having provided them the sufficient Biblical “standing” to privately approach brother TE/RE’s prior to publicly accusing them in front of higher courts. 

II.   …agrees that aside from the stated meeting of May 17, 2021 or subsequent formal process, no further Session discussions/meetings re the matter will be docketed to hear justifications for actions we think wrong and divisive on their face, until our 3 brothers noted above repent (not re-defend) and seek restoration with those TEs and REs (1 Tim. 5:19,  Matthew 18:15-18 [*]) alleged to have committed “grossly unconstitutional” actions in the letter dated Feb. 14, 2021.

III.   …confirms that an elder’s credibility and trustworthiness is a prerequisite for serving on session and for being assigned shepherding, leadership, and other service roles while on session (which are reviewable and assigned by majority vote of Session as responsibilities of trust).   

IV.   …agrees that this motion should also be understood, except for formal process, as a guide for future session dockets out of concern that the needs of the congregation and church ministries not be neglected by undue/inordinate preoccupation with a single issue.”

It should be noted that, while the men submitted apologies, none of the besieged officers have recanted any of the concerns stated in the credible 40-5 report.

The apology, which was not accepted by many on the Session, was for not discussing the report with the Session before sending the letter. It should also be noted that the 40-5 report was against the actions of the Northwest Georgia Presbytery and not the Midway Session, and no requirement exists in BCO 40 to notify the court being reported against prior to making the credible report.

However, the signers of the 40-5 letter did send copies to the Midway Session and Northwest Georgia Presbytery as a courtesy though it was not required.