SJC Panel: Northwest Georgia Presbytery Violated BCO 42-4

The effect of this error was to delay RE Dudt’s appeal process by three months…

The accused, upon conviction by the lower court (the Midway Session in the case of RE Dudt), has 30 days from that court’s ruling to file his appeal.

Once the accused submits his notice of appeal (which RE Dudt did before the court dismissed), the lower court (the Midway Session in the case of RE Dudt) then has 30 days to submit the record to the appeals court (the Northwest Georgia Presbytery), which should also include the accused’s reasons for appeal.

In the case of RE Dudt, the Midway Session took about twice that time to send up the record.

Why? Because the Session concluded that RE Dudt’s notice of intent to file an appeal did not start the clock since he did not also include his reasons.

But the BCO makes a distinction between the “notice of appeal” and “notice of appeal, with supporting reasons.” The Midway Session denied this distinction and waited until after RE Dudt submitted his reasons.

This added extra unnecessary time to RE Dudt’s clock.


In its written decision against RE Dudt, the NWGP sided with the Session’s faulty interpretation of the BCO. RE Dudt, in his appeal to the SJC, identified this as a specification of error committed by the NWGP. The SJC Panel concurred with RE Dudt.

The SJC Panel decision said:

3rd specification of Presbytery error, Appellant alleges that Presbytery erred in violation of BCO 42-4 when it concluded that Appellant had not submitted notice of appeal on November 12, 2020 because Appellant’s filing lacked supporting reasons, and that Appellant only properly submitted (that is, with supporting reasons) his appeal on December 7, 2020 (ROC 47).

This specification of error is sustained.

A Minute Explanatory. BCO 42-4 envisions two distinct actions that Presbytery has conflated in its adjudication of this matter. First, “notice of appeal may be given the court before its adjournment.” Second, Appellant has thirty days to submit “written notice of appeal, with supporting reasons” to the clerks of the lower and higher courts.


Both the Midway Session and the Northwest Georgia Presbytery failed to recognize a clear distinction in the BCO rules that should have required the Session to send up the appeal “without delay.”

This error unnecessarily delayed RE Dudt’s appeal by several months because instead of being taken up at the January meeting of the Northwest Georgia Presbytery, it missed that deadline and was instead taken up three months later at the April meeting of the NWGP.