Each instance of a secret trial deepens Midway’s open wounds…
Keeping with its tradition of scheduling trials near or on holidays, President’s Day 2022 goes down in history as yet another sad day in the history of Midway Presbyterian Church as the seemingly never ending secret trial of Ruling Elder Clay David grinds on. Last night’s was the longest session yet, clocking in at 4 hours and ending around 11 pm, running the total tally across all four sessions to about 12 hours or more so far. So zealous is the Session of Midway Presbyterian Church and its leader Senior Pastor David Hall for prosecuting their own members that seemingly nothing seems to assuage the fervor for church discipline – not even a well crafted ”Motion for Peace” that they voted to deny.
It is perhaps unprecedented in the Presbyterian Church in America to have a single trial last this many sessions, in secret, with no clear end in sight, and with two others accused of the same “offense” waiting for their own trial to begin while being suspended indefinitely without process. Justice delayed is justice denied for Ruling Elders Don Barnett and James Scott.
Are the “shepherds” on the pastoral staff at Midway leading their church into division from which it cannot recover by their insistence on pursuing an obviously prejudicial process?
As Trevin Wax recently wrote for the Gospel Coalition, “Until Jesus returns, we can expect some churches to be led by bad shepherds, those who exercise authority for their own benefit, no matter the consequences to the sheep. Seeing leadership abuses up close and personal should keep us from devoting ourselves exclusively to any kind of human authority. God is King, not the preacher. We are right to resist the wrongful authority of disqualified shepherds.” (Emphasis added.) It was this spirit of resistance that triggered the Protestant Reformation and the subsequent call for continual reformation of Christ’s church.
Readers may recall that the case has been well made that the Session’s charges against Ruling Elders Clay David, Don Barnett, and James Scott are for manmade offenses not found in Scripture, without basis in the church‘s constitution, and being conducted under prejudicial circumstances that have denied the accused basic reasonable indulgences. Even as the trials continue with no end in sight, the local presbytery is considering three complaints that have alleged that the ongoing judicial process against the Ruling Elders at the church are unconstitutional and that Senior Pastor David Hall and his fellow accusers have disqualified themselves from sitting in judgment over their equals on the Session.
While the presbytery considers these matters, members of Midway Presbyterian Church who are grieved daily by the emotional and spiritual weight of watching their 170 year old church commit suicide can only hope and pray that God gives the local presbyters wisdom to the see the truth of what is occurring at Midway Presbyterian Church and exhibit the courage to stop it.
Pray without ceasing.