When RE Dudt tried to introduce evidence that contradicted the Session’s indictment, the court prevented him from doing so…
The indictment against RE Dudt boldly claimed that his email to the congregation “incited distrust of the Session and pastors within the congregation and divided the church.”
RE Dudt attempted to introduce evidence to the contrary, but the judges wouldn’t allow it.
SPECIFICATION 30 OUT OF 40
RE Dudt stated the following specification of error against the Midway Session in his appeal:
30. The Session of Midway Presbyterian Church of the Presbyterian Church in America erred in procedure by declining to receive proper evidence (BCO 42-3) that could have contradicted the indictment’s claims that it was RE Dudt’s actions that “led to a divisive congregational meeting” when lines of questioning to witnesses about the congregational meeting were ruled out of order by the moderator on grounds of relevancy.
THE SJC PANEL’S RESPONSE
The SJC panel concurred with RE Dudt. It wrote:
This specification of error is sustained.
A Minute Explanatory: The Moderator improperly ruled out of order questions that may have led to testimony that contradicted the indictment’s charge of divisiveness. When an objection was raised against the Moderator’s ruling, Session upheld the Moderator’s ruling (ROC 330-2).
IMPLICATIONS OF THIS VIOLATION
The indictment claimed that RE Dudt’s email caused the division during the congregational meeting, but he tried to enter evidence into the record that would contradict that claim. An impartial court would be interested in receiving his evidence to evaluate whether the indictment’s claim was sufficiently supported by the prosecution’s evidence, or else contradicted by the evidence of the accused.
However, the Midway Session Moderator (Senior Pastor Hall) ruled questions to witnesses about how that meeting was conducted out of order. The Session then agreed with the Moderator and prevented RE Dudt from entering contradictory evidence into the record.
The court members failed to see how questions about the divisive congregational meeting were relevant when the indictment claimed RE Dudt caused the divisive meeting.
The SJC Panel recognized the one-sidedness of this action.
Why would the court rule out questions which were clearly relevant to the defense of RE Dudt?
“Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous” (1 John 3:7).