The bogus trial and conviction of RE Phil Dudt in order to silence him or bring him to subjection of the ruling body of Midway Presbyterian Church is a perfect example of extreme failure in leadership.
In July 2020 the Midway session proceeded quite hastily with a divisive recommendation to the congregation to elevate three pastors to the title of assistant pastor. Looking back there seems to be no good reason for this vote, never mind the timing of the vote, or even how it was handled. To this day there has not been a good reason given as to why these three men should have been elevated in their positions. Elder Dudt pleaded with the congregation to move the vote to early 2021. Not only would this allow the congregation (the controlling body in the PCA churches) time to pray and think about what they were doing. But it would possibly allow more of the congregation to be present since we were in the middle of a pandemic. But the session of Midway would have none of it. They proceeded with the meeting and failed to execute the vote properly. In their haste they managed, in one afternoon on July 19, 2020, to begin one of the greatest divisions of Christ’s church in modern history. Bringing down good men through false accusations. Trying a good men in an all night trial (similar to our Lord and Savior on the night of His bogus trial). Convicting three more men over a two-year period and ultimately losing two of the three pastors that were elevated, one of which is currently struggling for a solid place to minister. All of this divisiveness, destruction, humiliation, and carnage for what? So that one man can control the “flagship” church within the Northwest Georgia Presbytery.
Elder Dudt is a peaceful God-fearing prayer warrior that, over a two-year period, has been subject to some of the most heinous abuse a church could dole out. A church that claims to follow Scripture in everything they do. RE Dudt had a legitimate concern about having the congregation hastily vote on elevating three pastors from assistant to associate pastors. This would allow the pastors to potentially have a solid one-fourth voting bloc, handing more power over to TE Hall. A decision of this magnitude, being made by people that are not necessarily in the know, should be given much time for prayer and consideration by those making the vote. The session of Midway church, being led by TE Hall, did not think that was wise or necessary and proceeded with the vote. The vote was very close and approved the elevation of these three men.
Elder Dudt was charged and brought to trial (an all-night trial) by the now emboldened Midway Session. Elder Dudt was not allowed anyone but his council (RE Clay David) to be present with him during this all-night trial. These men of the session, led by TE Hall, felt it necessary to start a trial after a Wednesday evening Bible study, after men have worked all day, and allow it to run all night. Just allowing the trial to run all night was irresponsible on many levels. How are these elders that had to work the next day were going to be a good example in the community (1 Timothy 3:7)? How can one be a good example to the community if they can’t return to work and function properly after an all-night trial? This includes TE’s Hall, Harrington, Barry, and Knox. How can these men of the session (unless they’ve already made up their minds) think clearly enough after being awake for 24 hours to make an intelligent vote on conviction? In the same way the Sanhedrin illegally tried our Savior through the night on trumped up charges, RE Dudt was tried through the night by a modern-day Sanhedrin. Elder Dudt is by no means our Savior; but throughout this mess, created by our Sanhedrin, he has exemplified Christ by loving and praying for those who persecute him (Matt 5:44). Perhaps our Sanhedrin and its chief priests should learn from his example of piety.
In the end, the Dudt family has suffered persecution and humiliation at the hands of the very people that should care for and love them (Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 5:2-3). Instead, the session wrongfully convicted RE Dudt and censured him from doing his duty as an elder. The session attempted to sully RE Dudt’s reputation through his trial. But ultimately, through much prayer and fortitude, the session of Midway church was found to be out of line in wrongfully convicting RE Dudt on bogus charges. Still, the session does not accept the ruling from the highest court. Apparently, the session of Midway church thinks it knows better than the highest court that is filled with men with many more years’ experience, and obviously more love in their hearts.
After being exonerated by the highest court, RE Dudt will be reinstated. But would he want to be reinstated? I personally feel that he would. I feel that he would want to continue to make the change in the Midway session that needs to be made. The Midway session has proved itself to be belligerent, unloving, divisive, manipulative, and non-caring. To be quite honest, they do not seem to be well versed in the Scriptural form and use of discipline outlined in Matthew 18. The younger less experienced members seem to want to appease TE Hall, while the more senior members are intent upon elevating TE Hall’s agenda. As time has gone on more and more, failures of the Midway session have come to light. It seems that at every turn the Midway session and NWGP can’t play by the rules. Thus, there seems to be chatter about leaving the PCA so that TE Hall can get his way. What will happen to Midway if this happens? What would TE Todd Allen, founding member of the PCA, have to say about the actions of the Midway session?
As of this writing there has been no apology given by the Midway session or NWGP to RE Dudt and his family. After the initial ruling was handed down by the SJC, the NWGP immediately asked for a rehearing. That request was denied by the PCA’s SJC 22-1. They can not accept the fact they were wrong.