SJC Panel:  “Talley Resolution” is Divisive and Clearly Unconstitutional

Not only is the Talley Resolution un-Biblical, it is un-American!

The Talley Resolution, passed by the Midway Session in September 2020, was declared “clearly unconstitutional” by the SJC Panel hearing the RE Dudt appeal.   This infamous resolution, written by RE Jeff Talley, is possibly the single most dangerous and divisive motion ever to be adopted by any Session in the Presbyterian Church in America.   It states that if an officer publicly disagrees with the Session, he must resign or face prosecution.  This “law” created by the Midway Session has been used to indict elders James Scott, Don Barnett, and Clay David.   And that same resolution was use ex post facto to prosecute and convict Elder Phil Dudt.

The Midway Guardian has written much on the Talley Resolution.   You can read our original article on the ill-fated motion from September of 2020 here

Here is what the SJC Panel has to say about the Talley Resolution:

The so-called “Talley Resolution” [ROC 183] clearly violates BCO PP II.7 and WCF 20-2. Such in thesi deliverances form no part of the Constitution of the Church and have no binding power. Yet the question of their authority and of their binding power typically at once become a subject of controversy and needlessly divide the Church. A Session cannot authoritatively establish the meaning of the BCO, it can only interpret it in light of its history and its sense as received by the Church. No officer can be subject to discipline for disagreeing with, or violating, such a resolution. Further, the Resolution is effectively a bill of attainder, i.e., an act of a legislature declaring a person, or a group of people, guilty of some crime, and punishing them, without a trial, and as such it is invalid. It is instructive to note that a bill of attainder is prohibited in the United States Constitution and that every state constitution also expressly forbids bills of attainder. The BCO clearly forbids such a procedure in, for example, 24-7 and Preliminary Principle 8.

The Talley Resolution violates Scripture, the Westminster Confession, the Book of Church Order, the Constitution of the United States and the constitutions of all fifty states.  One would think that would give a Session pause, but not Midway’s.   All appearances are that they are moving full steam ahead in the prosecutions of Elders Scott, Barnett, and David.

This is not the first time the Midway Session was told the Talley Resolution was unconstitutional.   Shortly after it was passed in September of 2020, a deacon filed a complaint with the Session stating exactly that.   The Session denied the complaint and it was then elevated to the Presbytery.   The Presbytery could have stopped the Talley Resolution then, but instead they chose to deny the complaint without even hearing it (a violation of BCO 43-8 and 43-9).   The deacon then withdrew the complaint at the request of Elder Barnett as an olive branch of peace to the Session.  That happened around the same time that Elder James Scott’s made his “Motion of Peace” which the Session promptly voted down.  What did RE Barnett and RE Scott get for their effort to make peace?  They both were indicted and suspended from office two months later in September 2021. 

RE Don Barnett, James Scott, and Clay David were all indicted by the Midway Session for signing a BCO 40-5 letter with thirteen ordained men from the Midway congregation.  The letter detailed “important delinquencies and grossly unconstitutional” missteps of the Northwest Georgia Presbytery.   The concerns outlined in that letter are currently being investigated by the PCA’s Review of Presbytery Records Committee. 

The Midway Session took great offense to the letter mailed to the denomination’s Stated Clerk.   Since the three serving elders signed the letter with ten other men not currently serving, the Session considered that a “public disagreement” which is a violation of the unconstitutional Talley Resolution.   Ironically, the Midway Session had just been instructed the previous year by the Standing Judicial Commission in the SJC 2019-11 decision that “Both due process and basic charity demand that no member or officer should be ostracized or penalized for the mere filing of a complaint or appeal. The filing of a complaint or appeal may never, standing alone, constitute proper grounds to deny any privilege of membership or office in our church.”   This instruction did not deter the Session in that they indicted three more elders anyway.    Elder Scott had served as Clerk of the Session for nearly 50 years, Elder Barnett had served as Treasurer of the Northwest Georgia Presbytery since its inception, and Elder David was serving as Chair of Midway Covenant Christian School.

The Northwest Georgia Presbytery had a second chance to stop the Talley Resolution in the fall of 2021. Shortly after the three elders were indicted, another complaint was filed against the Session stating that the charges against the three elders were unconstitutional. The Session denied the complaint and then it was elevated to the Presbytery. The Midway Guardian has learned that last fall, a petition was circulated among several Presbytery members to call a meeting to hear and rule on the complaint. The petition received enough signatures for the Presbytery meeting to be called, but the Moderator did not call the meeting apparently in violation of BCO 13-12.

That same complaint, along with two others, are now before a Northwest Georgia Presbytery judicial commission. Maybe this third time the Presbytery will do the right thing.

Here is a question the Midway Session and Northwest Georgia Presbytery should answer:  If it is unlawful for a Session to prosecute an officer for sending an email to a congregation, how is it lawful for a Session to prosecute an officer for sending a letter to the Stated Clerk of the PCA?