First Presbyterian Church of Seattle Countersues Seattle Presbytery

Countersuit claims defamation, trademark infringement, violation of Consumer Protection Act, and interference with existing contracts

“This is nothing more than an attempt by the Seattle Presbytery to take valuable property it had no part in in paying for and to which it has no legitimate claim,” DeFoe said. “It is using tactics dictated by the national denomination to try to block First Presbyterian Church of Seattle from disaffiliating and to claim the church’s property and assets.”


First Presbyterian Church of Seattle’s trustees have been the subject of repeated false, misleading and defamatory statements made by the Seattle Presbytery and its leader, according to a countersuit filed today by the church.

“The presbytery has tried to dress this up as a dispute about the operation of First Presbyterian Church of Seattle and has made many false statements about the church and its decision to leave the Presbytery,” said Brian DeFoe, attorney for First Presbyterian Church of Seattle. “But at its heart, this dispute is really about money. First Presbyterian Church of Seattle has property worth more than $20 million that the Seattle Presbytery wants to seize. The presbytery paid nothing for the property that the church’s congregation purchased in 1905 and has owned free and clear since then.”

The countersuit is part of an answer to litigation instigated by the Seattle Presbytery seeking to block the church from leaving the denomination. The two-part answer to the presbytery’s lawsuit tells the story of a deteriorating relationship and the presbytery’s ongoing and repeated interference in the affairs of First Presbyterian Church of Seattle.

This interference by the Seattle Presbytery was the primary reason that, last November 15, the First Presbyterian Church of Seattle congregation voted more than 90 percent in favor of leaving the presbytery and the national denomination, Presbyterian Church (USA), and seeking affiliation with another national Presbyterian denomination.

“The congregation overwhelmingly voted that First Presbyterian Church of Seattle is no longer affiliated with the Seattle Presbytery or the Presbyterian Church (USA),” DeFoe said. “They tried many times to reconcile with the Seattle Presbytery and restore that relationship, but the presbytery repeatedly refused. The Seattle Presbytery started this legal fight by filing a lawsuit against the church and they’ve been forced to respond to the false allegations and claims it makes.”

Read More