Voter Intimidation and Suppression: Midway Session Imposes Strict Lockdown Procedures for Upcoming Meeting

Deacons stationed at the doors, passes for entry required, those denied a ballot will be denied access – welcome to church!

Amidst a purging of the church roll, the Session of Midway Presbyterian Church has selectively supplied certain members with instructions on how a congregational meeting that will decide the fate of Senior Pastor David Hall and four Ruling Elders – James Scott, Clay David, Don Barnett, and Philip Dudt (who was recently restored to office by the highest court of the PCA after a lengthy appeals process against unlawful and sinful acts of the Session under David Hall’s leadership).

It has already been established that Senior Pastor David Hall and his Session have illegally controlled who can vote in this upcoming meeting by adopting unconstitutional procedures to remove dissenting votes from the church roll. At the same time, they added new members that were not subject to the required “new members class.” This fast tracking of membership was clearly to secure fresh votes in an expedited manner. These actions were an obvious attempt to ensure an outcome that is favorable to David Hall. Apparently even this drastic measure was not enough to assuage David Hall’s fear of losing power. So next came the following, selectively distributed “instructions” designed also to control the outcome:

Dear Members of Midway,
This Sunday, July 24, at 9:45 AM, the congregation will convene for a meeting to vote on two recommendations from your elders. The relevant Call for the business, which was sent out on July 16, is repeated below.
We hope to assist you and all in an orderly meeting. The following information has now been approved.

1. Ballots may be picked up in the Fellowship Hall between 9:00-9:30 AM on Sunday, July 24, 2022. Please allow time for this. Doughnuts and Coffee will be available. 

2. Each shepherding elder will be stationed at a table in the Fellowship Hall with ballots and a list of communicant members for his group. Please go to the table where your shepherding elder is to receive your ballot. A deacon will also be assigned to each table. In addition, the Presbytery Shepherding Commission or Committee members will be present. Any unclaimed ballots will be conveyed to and preserved by the Presbytery Commission. 

3. At the table in the Fellowship Hall, each member will have an envelope with your name on it. Please pick up that envelope, which will contain ballots inside. 

4. Use of the front doors to the 1987 sanctuary will not be available. Two deacons will be stationed outside those doors, pointing members to the Fellowship Hall via the back entrance or the MCCS entrance. After receiving your ballot in its envelope, we request that participants exit the Fellowship Hall near the beverage station and make their way to the 1987 sanctuary. 

5. Deacons and others will seek to direct any who needs assistance to the 1987 sanctuary. Deacons will be inside the entry door to the 1987 and request that seats be filled from the Midway Road side first. A ballot with an envelope serves as an entry pass. Due to the nature of this meeting, non-members or those who do not have a ballot will need to wait in the Fellowship Hall. 

6. Once inside the 1987 sanctuary, keep your envelopes to signify your vote if any hand votes occur. 

7. Ballots will be counted by the Presbytery Commission, who will report the results when tabulated. 

Please contact your Shepherding Elder if you have any questions.

So Many Problems…

Not only are the aforementioned procedures entirely unprecedented in the operation of Midway Presbyterian Church, but they are more reminiscent of a political event in a totalitarian country where the “free (but totally controlled) elections” take place… with guards at the door to bar the undesirables without an “entry pass” from even witnessing the proceedings. Will the deacon police be preventing children from entering? What do these deacons intend to do those who don’t comply with bring barred from the meeting? Especially if those being barred are in fact members that were purged from the roll… proceeding with a meeting in this manner is evil because it is deliberately divisive.

Welcome to Church… but only if you have an “entry pass”

The Session announced a meeting for 9:45 AM in the morning widely to all… but these selectively distributed instructions make clear that to receive a ballot (which is an “entry pass” to the meeting itself), individuals need to arrive at an earlier time. How many individuals will arrive at this meeting at 9:45 AM (just like they were instructed to do) and will be denied access by the deacon police at the door? How much worse to see their opponents granted entry — their opponents who were given the special instructions in advance? Even worse – how many individuals will arrive in time to receive a ballot only to discover that they are not considered members having been purged from the roll? These tactics are treacherous, deceitful, partisan, and wicked. But perhaps the Session thinks members shouldn’t care because they are at least offering doughnuts and coffee…

This shameful behavior is indicative of just how afraid Senior Pastor David Hall is losing power. It is clear that the petition to call a meeting to discuss dissolving his pastoral call has forced him and his “Yes-Men” on the Session to unmask. The tyranny they have frequently flaunted in executive session and in prejudicial secret trials is now out in the open for the world to see. This tyranny and abuse is fueled by a complicit presbytery. Instead of defending the spiritual welfare of members of Midway Presbyterian Church and seeking to prevent such flagrant and public acts of division, they participate.

Where is the Northwest Georgia Presbytery? If the instructions delivered are to be believed, they are participants in this divisive meeting. They are charged under chapter 13 of the Book of Church Order to exercise authority to ensure that the constitution of the church is followed, and to address evils that arise in the local churches under their care. Reasonable observers everywhere would be wise to ask why the presbytery lacks discernment to such an extreme degree? How is it possible that instead of counseling a more peaceful and unifying path forward – they not only turn a blind eye to the roll purge and the irregular voter suppression tactics of the Midway Session – they volunteer to actively participate in the process? Proverbs 18 reminds them “Showing partiality to the wicked is not good, nor is depriving the innocent of justice.” This behavior is a stain on the Northwest Georgia Presbytery – as if their reputation is not already in sincere question across the PCA.

Senior Pastor David Hall – you have made your fear of loss in the face of the petition to discuss the dissolution of your call as pastor of Midway Presbyterian Church obvious to the world by adopting and consenting to these outrageous prejudicial tactics. Whether your call at Midway Presbyterian Church is preserved or not in the coming days, your ministry’s legacy will forever be suffocated under the shadow of your totalitarian need to lord over the sheep entrusted to your care. No amount of doughnuts or lockdown procedures will change that fact.