Session Indicts Ruling Elder Phil Dudt for Sending an E-mail to the Congregation

His major alleged crime? Informing the congregation…

The Session of Midway Presbyterian Church indicted RE Phil Dudt in response to an email he sent to the congregation prior to the July 19th congregational meeting.

On October 7th, Ruling Elders Scott Keesee and Jeff Talley called a meeting to receive charges against fellow elder Phil Dudt. They contended that sending such an e-mail was a violation of his ordination vows.

Elder Talley in September succeeded in winning a motion declaring Elder Dudt’s past actions, in ex post facto style, to be an offense. His major crime seems to have been informing the congregation of the unconstitutional actions of its Session, according to the indictment, which states in part “the Session of Midway Presbyterian Church charges Philip Dudt with violation of his ordination vows (#5,6) by the following actions: (1) distributing the SJC case 2019-03 to the entire congregation against the express will of the Session and therefore failing to be in subjection to his brethren (vow #5), and (2) violating the ninth commandment and vow #6 in the letter he sent on July 12th, 2020.”

There has been a long history of weaponizing the Ninth Commandment in church courts to suppress opposition (see “isn’t it interesting how often that accusation is made in an attempt to silence dissent?“). To avoid falling into a similar pattern, this Session will have to present a strong case with rigorous evidence since the burden of proof rests upon them.

At the same October 7th meeting, Elder Don Barnett made a motion to send the matter to the Discipline Committee for consideration.

This prudent motion failed.

The session then ordered by a 12-3-1 vote for the following indictment to be drawn:

Indictment of RE Philip Dudt

	In the name of the Presbyterian Church in America, the Session of Midway Presbyterian Church charges Philip Dudt with violation of his ordination vows (#5,6) by the following actions: (1) distributing the SJC case 2019-03 to the entire congregation against the express will of the Session and therefore failing to be in subjection to his brethren (vow #5), and (2) violating the ninth commandment and vow #6 in the letter he sent on July 12th, 2020. 
 	The Presbyterian Church in America accuses Mr. Dudt of these charges as violations against the peace, unity and purity of the Church, and the honor and majesty of the Lord Jesus Christ, as the King and Head thereof (BCO 24-6, 5; 24-6, 6; 1 Cor 1:10; 3:3–4; 4:6; 1 Tim 3:2–3; Eph. 4:1-2; Tit 3:2, 7; WLC 144, 145). 
	First Charge: On July 12 (in an email) Mr. Dudt distributed SJC Case 2019-03, “Dan and Angelia Crouse vs. the Northwest Georgia Presbytery”, to the entire congregation after repeated attempts to compel the Session to do so were denied. He wrote, 

The Standing Judiciary Committee of the PCA ruled against the Midway Session and the Northwest Georgia Presbytery in the case of Dan and Angelia Crouse vs. the Northwest Georgia Presbytery (SJC Case 2019-03) for unconstitutionally handling officer nominations.  See pages 44-47 of the following link: (emphasis original). 

	This request was discussed by the Session at the stated meetings of November 18, 2019, January 20, 2020, May 11, 2020 (verbally by Mr. Dudt; not in the minutes), and June 15, 2020. It was repeatedly and explicitly not adopted (see the minutes for November, January, and June). The Session had determined and implemented a different course of addressing the wrongs implied in the SJC decision. Nevertheless, Mr. Dudt took it upon himself (against the Session’s decisions) to distribute the SJC case. This action is the rejection of his commitment to be in subjection to his brethren in the Lord and the conscious choice to work against the Presbyterian government of which he is an overseer (Acts 15:24-25; Tit 1:6-7,10). It incited distrust of the Session and pastors within the congregation and divided the church.

	Second Charge: Mr. Dudt violated 9th commandment with the letter as a whole and, in doing so, violated vow #6 (BCO 24-6). The purpose of the letter (specifically, his use of the SJC decision) was to challenge the competency, credibility, and trustworthiness of the Session. Mr. Dudt did not accurately represent the Session’s process or position. He employed partial truth to bias the congregation against its elders in order to defeat their recommendation at the forthcoming July 19th, 2020 congregational meeting. In so doing, he failed to promote the truth between man and man and to promote the good name of his neighbor (WLC 144). Rather than “covering his brothers’ alleged infirmities” (WLC 144), he publicly displayed them, prejudicing the truth and slandering the Session’s good name (WLC 145). 

	The result of Mr. Dudt’s actions were divisive and led to many members emailing and calling both Mr. Dudt and other officers for an explanation. It also led to a divisive congregational meeting due in large part to Mr. Dudt’s letter. 

	Mr. Dudt has been approached or written to by several members or officers of Midway but has denied any wrongdoing. Despite repeated overtures from fellow elders and other members, he has refused to repent. 
	Witnesses and/or Documents: 
Witnesses: Wes Richardson, John Garmon, Jeff Talley, Scott Keesee. 

Supporting Documents: 
•	Exhibit A “Elder Dudt’s July 12 Letter” 
•	Exhibit B “Midway Stated Session Minutes 1-20-2020” 
•	Exhibit C “Midway Stated Session Minutes 11-18-2019”
•	Exhibit D “Midway Stated Session Minutes 6-15-2020”

__________________________________   (Moderator)

__________________________________   (Clerk)

Date: ___________________________

The e-mail that the Midway Session considers a violation of God’s law was sent on July 12, 2020 to members of the Midway Congregation. Click here to read the text of the e-mail.