Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Decision!

Judge Sellers announced today his judgment regarding the Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery's two demands in our case.

On the first demand, that the secular court suspend the case and refer it back to the EOP for judgment, the judge ruled in our favor. The case will not be suspended and handed back to the PCUSA. This was the most important part of the case for us, and we, thank God, prevailed. This ruling means that the case could go forward under neutral law principles, where our arguments and precedents are strongest.

On the second demand, that the Kirk be forced to hand over membership records, the judge ruled that we must give the EOP a printed mailing list for our congregation as well as a copy of up-to-date names, addresses, and phone numbers. While we preferred not to give away membership information, it is not something that should adversely affect us. So far as we can tell from their last mailing, the EOP already has an up-to-date list that some member gave them, so this ruling grants them nothing new.

Expect to get another letter from the presbytery in the near future.

Thank you so much for your continued prayers and support-they mean everything to us. As soon as I find out the details I'll let you know what is next. We still have the quiet title suit, where we hope the courts will require the presbytery to clear our title.

Keep praying--keep the faith,
Tom

32 comments:

Rick Walton said...

Good news Tom. If they send another letter, this time they will get a response.

Anonymous said...

Hey!!

Lynn Lugibihl said...

Hats off to the legal team who did intense research producing persuasive legal arguments! Hats off to Judge Sellers who made a challenging decision carving a new path in unchartered territory. Most of all, may God continued to be glorified by the future decisions as well.

Renee Guth said...

Thankful!!!!!

Renee Guth said...

Thankful!!!!

Dave Moody said...

Tom, Godspeed this weekend at the EPC presbytery meeting.

keep the faith, keep praying.
dm

Diana G. said...

Praise the Lord and may you be encouraged as God's perfect plan for the Kirk unfolds!!

Vicky Rogers said...

Thank you for your faithful updates. May God receive the glory for what He has done and is doing for Truth.

katie said...

congrats on the decision!!

what did the judge say about the financial records? do you have to turn those over too?
~katie

JC said...

Tom,

Why have you not announced on this blog the fact that the judge also ruled that the Cimarron case still held precedent? That seems like selective reporting. I can understand why you would not, as it represents the uphill battle you are fighting and the likelihood of defeat. the EOP has offered to sit down and do a settlement, a gracious one at that, from my understanding, which you and your leadership have refused to do. You are playing the martyr, and it is going to cost your congregation dearly.

JC

James Hutchins said...

Congrats Tom!

Ellen Cook said...

I spoke with a woman at an event last night who asked where I went to church. I have learned to be a bit cautious (although proud as well), and when I told her I was a member of the Kirk, she leaned in and whispered that "her church was praying for us". When I asked where she attended, she mentioned a small Presbyterian Church in Tulsa! I was warmed by her comments and told her how proud and honored I felt to be involved with such strong leadership who were taking a risk that was God-prompted and would hopefully pave the way for others to follow. It was quite a heartwarming conversation. Congratulations to all who have worked so hard to get this far. I believe we have far more support on the sidelines than we may be aware!

Larry said...

It has been said there are three kinds of people:

1. Those who make things happen.

2. Those who watch what is happening.

3. Those who wonder what has happened.

Keep making things happen!!!!!!

Just maybe your church's approach to the apostacy that reigns supreme in the PCUSA will incite some souls in the other 11,000 churches to move beyond watching or wondering what is or has happened.

Jim Loughlin said...

Is there a place where the opinion is published so it could be read online?

Anonymous said...

(1) I find it odd that some churches are leaving the PCUSA b/c they think the denomination is not following the Book of Order re ordination standard and yet they want to avoid alltogether what the Book of Order says about church property.

A case of having one's cake and eating it too.

(2) I would think you would be delighted to hand over the information on membership because you would want your members to know what the Presbytery has to say. After all, when these folks joined they didn't just join one congregation but an entire denomination.

a Presbyterian in Texas

Lynn Lugibihl said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
J Fred said...

I am saddened, but not suprised, by the negative comments of some folks on this sight. It is almost as if they wait the whole day long so that they might attack whatever positive notes appear on this blog. Have they no lives of their own to live that they have to try to trash others who are trying to live for Christ? It is sad that such bitterness and abusive behavior appears to be part of folks who claim to be Christians. I hope none of them are officers of a church anywhere, though I wouldn't be suprised, given the current moral climate in some parts of the PCUSA. If people who can be so geefully bitter and hateful are in charge of making decisions somehwere, it is no wonder we have officers in some places who don't even blink at ordaining active homosexuals or at endorsing rank heresy as doctrine. However, God is in charge of all....not these bitter personalities! Blessings Tom!

TomGray said...

JC
I didn't answer on the Cimmarron, nor did I list specifically the many aspects of case law that we presented. The court will sort these out.

Just to correct you, the EOP has not sat down with us to offer a generous settlement. We have had to request meetings, and there has been no offer presented, to my knowledge.
Tom

TomGray said...

JC,
As a postscript, may I suggest that you read the Tulsa World article to get a clear, unbiased point of view.
Tom

TomGray said...

Katie,
There will be no transfer of financial records, to my knowledge. All that they are asking for is the up-to-date mailing list.
Tom

Lynn Lugibihl said...

In response to JC, I would like to make 3 points.

(1) The "Cimarron" case is available for anyone to read. Go to www.oscn.net and under the Oklahoma Supreme Court cases you can find it. The case citation is Presbytery of Cimarron v. Westminster Presb. Enid, 515 P.2d 211, (Okla. 1973).

I do not believe the "Cimarron" case is a death knell to the Kirk's position. The "Cimarron" case is factually different. In the "Cimarron" case, the local congregation departed solely because of financial difficulties, not because of doctrinal differences caused by a shift in the larger church. In addition, the Oklahoma Supreme Court in "Cimarron" recognized that a different outcome may occur when the local congregation departs due to this change in doctrine. The Court stated in paragraph 22, "...(t)here is no 'departure-from-doctrine element' involved in this controversy. From all that appears from the record, the schism here (if it may be correctly called that) resulted from financial difficulties, rather than from any differences in religious beliefs or claim that th United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America had departed form doctrine its predecessor, the Presbyterian Church of the United States, had subscribed to at the itme the Enid Church affiliated with it."

Thus, while both parties, the Kirk and the EOP, have a legal battle ahead of them, the Court in Cimarron has carefully expressed that an outcome different than what occurred in Cimarron may result when the departure from the larger church is for the reasons the Kirk has expressed.

(2) I believe Pastor Tom accurately stated the rulings of the Court. The only two issues before the Court were whether the Kirk should provide certain records to the EOP and whether the State court could proceed rather than stay the proceeding to allow the PCUSA "court" system to take over initially. The issues of "Cimmarron" were not specifically before the court. The court ,therefore, only ruled on the issues before it. The court may have made a "finding" that the Cimarron case was precedential, but this "finding" is more relevant in terms of the court's rationale, rather than being part of an adjudication of the issues.

(3) Finally, I believe the design of JC's blog is to create fear and uncertainty. Fear has no place in the thinking of the Kirk members. The Kirk's motives are to be loving,responsible stewards, obedient to God. There is no fear in perfect love. The Kirk is trusting God and sound legal reasoning.

The Kirk, while believing it has title to the property firmly believes it is God's property and the Kirk is simply a steward while also being title holder. If God wants the Kirk to lose the property, then the Kirk believes it is to God's glory that such an outcome would occur. May God Be glorified in their actions.

Anonymous said...

dick leader says...

The Saturday devotion of the quarterly "Discovery" is entitled "A Wise Choice" and reminds us in 1 Kings 3:1-15 of Solomon's request of God for wisdom. The lesson goes on to remind us that wisdom consists of verbal skills, good judgements, spiritual insights and practical know-how. I apply this to what our Kirk warriors have been and are doing. I continue to marvel at how wise they have been. Our God is Sovereign!

Anonymous said...

FOR ENCOURAGEMENT:

At our child's Tulsa Public School basketball game this week I got into a conversation with some people from the First United Methodist Church downtown about our church and it's "controversy". Of course, we stated that we firmly believe in what our pastors are doing and stand behind them 100%. One person then said that they heard that "one of our pastors" has a son with a disability and they were amazed and impressed that He was willing to put his job, finances, etc. on the line for such a just cause. They were very complimentary and went on to say this will be a landmark case for many big churches in America to follow!

Doug Scott said...

Tom,

I read the words by one of the posters warning of an uphill battle. I had seen an identical warning by the same person on a previous post. He also warns of the likelihood of defeat. I go on to read his accusations: hypocrisy, refusal of a gracious offer, selective reporting, etc.. I conclude by reading his words prophesying the dear cost that I will pay by virtue of being in the congregation of the Kirk.

My initial reaction was dismay as the picture of an uphill battle followed by likely defeat slithered into my mind and knocked on the door of my heart. I much prefer having the wind at my back and I certainly don’t like to lose. BUT WAIT A MINUTE! My fleshly preferences for ease and “victory” are irrelevant. Moreover, they are to be eschewed, not coddled and considered. My flesh and fear notwithstanding, I serve the One who said “enter by the narrow way”. The Lord calls me TO uphill battles, not AWAY from them! Being so reminded of this truth, I will choose to heed the words of Him who calls me TO the uphill battles and I will choose to ignore those who warn me of the cost I may pay by doing so.

My initial reaction was umbrage at the poster’s accusations. I began to mentally prepare a defense. There was just one problem-- the accusations (at least in my case) are largely true! So now what do I do? I stand without defense in the face of the accusations, I feel the shame of them, I repent… AND I PRESS ON! I am mercifully reminded that ultimately I stand not before my myriad accusers but before my One Judge. He and not my accusers will issue the final verdict on me. In the meantime, there are uphill battles to pray for.

Finally, there was the poster’s prediction that the Kirk congregation will pay a dear cost. While I am reminded that not all prophets are true prophets, the invitation to “count the cost” is biblical, so I count. When I asked The One Who Owns the Cattle on a Thousand Hills to help me do the math, He assured me that he had the ability to cover any loss that he chose to cover. Before we finished speaking He asked me to consider what it would profit a man if he gained the whole world but forfeited his soul. There, I am finished counting now. It was the easiest math I have ever done.

Doug Scott

NetProphet said...

JC,

What is the EOP's gracious offer to the Kirk? Please enlighten us. Please document your source of information as well, so we can verify. Thank you.

Gina Hills said...

Well said, Doug. I'm all for easy math!

TomGray said...

To JC
Netprophet is right--what is the offer that EOP has made? I've been kept informed each day by our attorneys and am unaware of any offer.
Tom

Arthur Woodling said...

Tom, netprophet,

You guys are both twisting JC's words. He didn't say the EOP made an offer. You both need to go back and read it again. I'm not saying that the EOP will make (or has made) a gracious offer, or that the statement he made was true, I'm only saying that JC didn't say they made such an offer.

It sure does look like he got under your skin for some reason though.

Arthur

TomGray said...

JC,
In clarification, our people did sit down with the presbytery for one meeting. At that meeting the presbytery was unwilling to consider a negotiated offer.
Tom

Jim said...

Any indication of the next court date? I assume there are dates for paperwork (briefs, etc).

TomGray said...

Jim,
We don't have any real idea of the next actions in court. The EOP has some time to respond to this decision, as I understand it. Beyond that, it may have more to do with the judge's calendar than anything else.
Tom

jim said...

I have added your church to our men's prayer list. We also pray that EOP will have their eyes opened to the will of God.

I too find EOP's meetings to be a waste of time and energy.

When I was discussing Kirk with a friend from another local church, He express the opinion that by all of the conservatives leaving, the liberals win, since they will be the only ones left. My comment was, I glad our founding fathers did not feel the same way or we would still be British.