PCA Great Lakes Presbytery Overtures GA to Direct the SJC to Hear the Meyers’ Case

The overture asks General Assembly to direct the SJC to hear the case from Missouri Presbytery

The Great Lakes Presbytery hereby overtures the 41st General Assembly to direct the Standing Judicial Commission to find the case (SJC 2012-09) administratively in order, appoint a panel or have the case heard by the whole Standing Judicial Commission, and render a decision in accordance with the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in America and for the peace and purity of the Church.

 

At its May 4, 2013 meeting, the Great Lakes Presbytery (GLP) of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) approved an overture asking the General Assembly to direct the Standing Judicial Commission (SJC) to hear the complaint from Missouri Presbytery (TE M. Jay Bennett vs Missouri Presbytery, SJC 2012-09).

The complaint was filed by TE M. Jay Bennett against the action of Missouri Presbytery (MOP) in connection with the Presbytery finding TE Jeffrey J. Meyers not guilty of the five charges cited in the indictment of March, 22, 2012. The SJC officers recommended to the full SJC that the complaint be found administratively out of order in that TE Bennett did not have standing since he was no longer a PCA teaching elder after he had had accepted a call in another Reformed denomination. When a complaint is found administratively out of order it is not assigned to a SJC panel to hear the case and the case is dismissed.

The overture from Great Lakes Presbytery disagrees with the SJC action to find the complaint administratively out of order and asks the General Assembly to direct the SJC to find it in order and adjudicate the case. Specifically, the overtures requests:

The Great Lakes Presbytery hereby overtures the 41st General Assembly to direct the Standing Judicial Commission to find the case (SJC 2012-09) administratively in order, appoint a panel or have the case heard by the whole Standing Judicial Commission, and render a decision in accordance with the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in America and for the peace and purity of the Church.

 

Overture of the Great Lakes Presbytery to the 41st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America

To direct the Standing Judicial Commission to find SJC 2012-09 administratively in order and to hear the case

Whereas, WCF 31-2 states that “it belongeth to synods and councils, ministerially to determine controversies of faith, and cases of conscience”; and

Whereas, BCO 14-6.a grants the General Assembly power to “receive and issue all appeals, references, and complaints regularly brought before it from the lower courts; to bear testimony against error in doctrine and immorality in practice, injuriously affecting the church; to decide in all controversies respecting doctrine and discipline”; and

Whereas, each of the five charges in the original indictment of SJC 2012-09 charged the accused with contradicting in his views and teachings the Westminster Standards; and

Whereas, the SJC on June 19, 2012 found in Case 2011-06 that Missouri Presbytery did “err in failing to find a strong presumption of guilt that TE Jeffrey Meyers holds views contrary to the Westminster Standards (BCO 34-5) when it conducted its BCO 31-2 investigation of his views and writings”[1]; and

Whereas, the Constitution of the PCA states in BCO 11-4, “Every court has the right to resolve questions of doctrine and discipline seriously and reasonably proposed, and in general to maintain truth and righteousness, condemning erroneous opinions and practices which tend to the injury of the peace, purity, or progress of the Church.”; and

Whereas, the SJC ruled in SJC 2012-09[2] that the Complainant abandoned the case stating, “The Case is Administratively Out of Order in that, although the Complainant was a member of the PCA when he brought his original Complaint to Presbytery on April 16, 2012, he was received by the OPC on April 28, 2012 and therefore did not have standing to bring Complaint on August 16, 2012 to the SJC”; and

Whereas, the only valid reason for a case to be considered abandoned in the Constitution of the PCA, Rules of Assembly Operations, and Operating Manual for Standing Judicial Commission is for failing to appear before the higher court as seen in the following examples:

BCO 43-7 The complainant shall be considered to have abandoned his complaint if he fails to appear before the higher court, in person or by counsel, for a hearing thereof…

SJC Manual 18.7  ABANDONMENT

If an appellant, complainant or party initiating a case referred to the Commission fails to appear, in person or by a qualified representative, after receiving proper notice, at any meeting of the Standing Judicial Commission, or a Judicial Panel thereof, such party shall be deemed to have abandoned the case. The Stated Clerk shall immediately notify the party that the case has been dismissed because of the failure to appear, and the party shall have 10 days from the receipt of such notice to present, in writing, a satisfactory explanation of the failure to appear and prosecute the case. If the explanation is deemed sufficient by the Officers of the Commission, or members of the Judicial Panel, the case shall be reinstated and reset for another hearing; otherwise, it shall stand abandoned and dismissed.; and

Whereas, no provision exists where a Complainant withdrawing or transferring his membership from the PCA to another body is considered abandonment; and

Whereas, BCO 43-1 raises the issue of standing only with regard to the time the Complaint is made, not throughout the life of the Complaint beyond that time; and

Whereas, Missouri Presbytery heard the Complainant’s case and rendered a decision on July 17, 2012, after the Complainant had been transferred to the OPC, showing that the Presbytery had not considered the Complainant’s transfer to the OPC as abandoning the case[3]; and

Whereas, the Complainant in this case had standing when the original action of Missouri Presbytery took place, and when the Complaint was made, and desires to continue with his Complaint and conclude the case; and

Whereas, the SJC failed in Case 2012-09 to determine whether the Presbytery erred in its ruling or whether the accused is guilty of holding and teaching views that are in conflict with the system of doctrine taught in the Westminster Standards, rendering the judgment solely on whether the case was administratively in order; and

Whereas, the SJC failed to exercise its right to “resolve questions of doctrine and discipline seriously and reasonably proposed, and in general to maintain truth and righteousness, condemning erroneous opinions and practices which tend to the injury of the peace, purity, or progress of the Church”; and

Whereas, the issues involved in this case touch on a significant matter that affects the integrity of the PCA’s commitment to the system of doctrine taught in the Westminster Standards and more importantly Holy Scripture; and

Whereas, the BCO 15-5.a permits the General Assembly to “direct the Standing Judicial Commission to retry a case if upon review of its minutes exceptions are taken with respect to that case”;

Therefore, be it resolved that the Great Lakes Presbytery hereby overtures the 41st General Assembly to direct the Standing Judicial Commission to find the case (SJC 2012-09) administratively in order, appoint a panel or have the case heard by the whole Standing Judicial Commission, and render a decision in accordance with the Constitution of the Presbyterian Church in America and for the peace and purity of the Church.



[1] SJC Minutes, June 19, 2012.

[2] SJC Minutes, March 6, 2013.

[3] SJC 2012-09, Record of the Case, Pg. 166.