Why Did You Leave Fort Worth Presbyterian Church?
Here’s the short answer: Fort Worth Presbyterian Church has a policy it claimed was for the integration of “special case felons,” sex offenders and those with violent crimes, that, in the opinion of my family, those we serve, and many other pastors with whom I’ve consulted, is wrong. And, by experience, we found to have the opposite chilling effect: it resulted in the disintegration of every single man it was supposedly intended to help! We filed a complaint against the church, we appealed to the North Texas Presbytery and the Standing Judicial Commission of the denomination, but our complaint was essentially denied every step of the way. So, we were wrong, right? Not exactly, and that leads me to the second question I will attempt to answer…
What, in your opinion, is wrong with the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA)?
Our appeals to the North Texas Presbytery and the Standing Judicial Commission were denied NOT because no one else had the same concerns we did but primarily because 1) FWPC misinterpreted the constitution of the church, 2) we did not make the right arguments and 3) it is apparently against the rules for the SJC to consider any argument that was not presented in the record of the case (even their own!). And this, in my opinion, is what is wrong with the Presbyterian Church in America. Seriously wrong.
Supposedly, the men on the Standing Judicial Commission were not allowed to see something that is patently wrong and strike it down if the evidence of wrong doing is not already before them in the record of the case. They are not allowed to think Biblically for themselves. They are an appellate court only. They cannot consider or present new evidence, they cannot call witnesses. So, even if they agree that something is seriously wrong with the policy, that it presents “grave concerns” as the author of the concurring opinion stated, they are not allowed to throw out the policy.
This is ridiculous. First and foremost, the purpose of any appellate court should be to evaluate everything in the light of Scripture. Who cares if we didn’t make the right or persuasive enough argument? This was our first rodeo but it certainly wasn’t for the men on the committee! I must believe that even the Standing Judicial Commission is misinterpreting its own rules! I can’t believe the authors of such policies would ever imagine that the rules would prevent the members from evaluating the policy in the light of Scripture, all Scripture, whether it was before them or not! This is a classic case of the tail wagging the dog!
So, I leave it for you to decide. Does Fort Worth Presbyterian Church err in its policy? Did we make our case sufficiently? Read the documents below and make your own decision. Personally, I will NEVER understand how pinning scarlet letters to men and preventing men from attending church solely because of the sins of their past could EVER be interpreted as being anything other than sin. I am grateful and did not miss the irony that even the author of the concurring opinion spent the vast majority of their paper demonstrating the error of the session of Fort Worth Presbyterian Church and the North Texas Presbytery in the application of the Book of Church Order’s Preliminary Principles.
CLICK HERE for the original complaint.
CLICK HERE for Fort Worth Presbyterian Church’s response (and note the absence of Scripture).
CLICK HERE for the complete record of the case through the Standing Judicial Commission.
CLICK HERE for the proposed decision of the Standing Judicial Commission.
CLICK HERE for the final decision of the Standing Judicial Commission.
CLICK HERE for the Concurring Opinion.
CLICK HERE for the Lone, Dissenting Opinion. Thank God for Neikirk!
Thank God also for the elders who stood with us, voiced their own concerns over the policy, and for our new church home, Saint John Cumberland Presbyterian Church! If you are seeking a church that will love you regardless of race, income or your past, please join us! Visit www.StJohnCPC.org to learn more!