Speak the Truth: Time to Practice What You Preach, Part II

Amidst lies being exposed, a tone deaf pulpit preaches on being “Saved from Lies”.

The Midway Guardian has been studying the SJC panel decision on case 2021-13 very closely and there will be much to share about what it means in the coming days. One interesting fact that the Editorial Board has been made aware of is that the Session at Midway Presbyterian Church, after convicting RE Phil Dudt, collected additional testimony after the trial and added it into the record of the case that was sent to Presbytery!

This testimony was improperly solicited, received, and endorsed by Midway Associate Pastor Marc Harrington who acted as Clerk of Session to assemble a proposed record of the case. To be absolutely clear, this testimony was added after the trial, and was not entered into evidence during the trial by the prosecution, nor was RE Dudt or his representative RE Clay David invited to participate in its collection. Despite the completely dishonest process this act represents, it is a blatant violation of multiple parts of the PCA’s Book of Church Order, which describes how admissible testimony is to be collected.

The Book of Church Order is very clear that it was Clerk TE Harrington’s responsibility to assemble the record (that is, “any papers bearing on the case”) not to create testimony in the form of pre-written statements that men who already voted to convict the accused are then asked to sign! The Editorial Board has learned that not only did these pre-written statements contradict witness testimony collected in the all night secret trial of RE Phil Dudt, but they were collected 41 days after the conclusion of the trial itself! Astonishingly, the Northwest Georgia Presbytery allowed this dishonestly acquired and inadmissible testimony to remain in the record, thus referring to it as fact to uphold the Session’s conviction of RE Phil Dudt, which has now been shown to be based on unbiblical grounds.

The SJC Panel that exonerated RE Phil Dudt was clear about TE Marc Harrington’s misbehavior on this point, and the Northwest Georgia Presbytery’s allowance of it when they ruled:

1st specification of Presbytery error, Appellant alleges that Presbytery erred in violation of BCO 42-5 when it allowed testimony taken after the trial (see ROC 51-8) to be included in the ROC.

This specification of error is sustained.

A Minute Explanatory. The Session does not dispute that such testimony was so added, but argues that this inclusion is permissible under BCO 42-5 (“any papers bearing on the case”) (ROC 559). But testimony taken after the trial is not a “paper bearing on the case” (BCO 42-5; cf. BCO 35-13,14) and, as such, should not have been added to the ROC.

Decision on Appeal SJC Case 2021-13

Does anyone really believe that TE Marc Harrington thought this was acceptable behavior? How could he not have known better? Why didn’t Senior Pastor David Hall, who is the “Parliamentarian” of the Northwest Georgia Presbytery (and author of several books on church government operation) not stop this and correct TE Harrington? Why didn’t TE Clif Daniel or any of his fellows on the judicial commission at the presbytery recognize that to craft and add testimony after a trial is over and add it into the record is dishonest? Like false charges – which are in effect lies – this action was grossly dishonest.

Are we to believe that all of these men are that dumb? Or were they scheming against RE Phil Dudt? Ruthlessly determined to find him guilty at all costs? It might have worked too, had they not been caught…

Practice What You Preach

On the morning of March 13, 2022, TE Marc Harrington preached a sermon titled “Saved from Lies,” the object of which was to explore the idea that the Gospel saves sinners from the lies they believe. True as this is, is not a sermon on the truth and repudiating lies extraordinarily tone deaf after an SJC Panel found that the charges against RE Dudt, for which TE Harrington was a central player, were false? How about after that same panel concluding that TE Harrington’s crafting and adding of testimony after the trial was wrong?

“…when we abandon the truth of God for lies, there are always consequences…”

TE Marc Harrington, 03-13-22, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcevj96D1_U

Interestingly and quite conveniently there is no mention of this dishonest behavior in the Session’s congregation wide communication on the topic of the SJC Panel decision. One must surmise then that leaving out this detail (and the entirety of the panel ruling for that matter) indicates an unwillingness to acknowledge wrongdoing, and a suppression of truth now coming to light. Consider TE Harrington’s words:

“…ya know the phrase to “suppress the truth” means to hold it down, ya know, to resist believing what is plain about God. Or to take some truth, and just ignore others. Anyone who has ever been caught in a lie and a refuses to admit it knows exactly what this is like. Ya know you do three things, you deny, deny, and deny. That’s what we do…”

TE Marc Harrington, 03-13-22, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcevj96D1_U

Mere hours after the news breaks that the Session brought false charges (lies) against their brother RE Dudt, and it was exposed that TE Harrington produced and added testimony after the trial for the record, and a communication goes out to the congregation that attempted to justify and deny any wrongdoing — the church gets a sermon on the topic of lies and self deception?

“…whenever you sin, even the big ones that go beyond the daily sins, there is no point in despairing, as if you can never change, and God would never accept you back. That’s not the Gospel, that’s condemnation, that’s legalism…”

TE Marc Harrington, 03-13-22, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcevj96D1_U

How true this is. TE Harrington is absolutely right. It is time for the Midway leadership to practice what they preach. It is time for TE Harrington to repent for his involvement in the false charges and prejudicial process, of which he was a chief participant, and make it right with the Lord, RE Dudt, and his congregation. Where there is true repentance, there is true forgiveness. TE Harrington is invited to that, and in so doing may be a leader in the much needed effort to reunify the divided Midway Presbyterian Church. He will be forgiven just as Jesus forgave.