From: Greg Coulter
Oct 24, 2008 4:07 pm
To: EOP Pastors' Notes
No doubt many of you have read in one or more places that either the presbytery or the denomination is not playing fair with the Kirk of the Hills. Kirk spokespersons accuse EOP and PCUSA of lying about the terms of the settlement agreement. I want to assure you that this is not true.
The primary question raised is whether or not the proposed settlement concludes all pending legal matters. It would. One item, however, is no longer pending, the court decision on September 9 in which the District Court ruled in favor of EOP and PCUSA in the lawsuit filed by the Kirk. The Court ruled in favor of EOP and PCUSA under both legal constructs - "hierarchical deference" (which is the state law in OK) and "neutral principles" (which is the law in other states). Once the Court entered a ruling, it became a matter of public record. The only issue to be resolved is the wording of the final order (called a "journal entry"). EOP and PCUSA have agreed that the court's order (awarding the property to EOP) would be set aside at the settlement closing, but it has been (or should have been) clear all along that a judgment would be entered in the case.
At a subsequent hearing on October 6, set to determine the final language of the journal entry, the Kirk's attorneys raised several more arguments. Judge Sellers said that he had hoped the three parties to the suit (Kirk of the Hills Corporation, EOP, and PCUSA) would have resolved the language of the journal entry, but noted that more time might be necessary. He then said, "So, if you think you want to get closer and submit additional proposals, that's fine. You have ten days in which to do it, then I'll settle the judgment - - or journal entry, reflecting what my ruling is." At no time did the Court allow a situation in which the decision of September 9 would not be recorded in some manner.
Following the September 9 Court decision, representatives of the Kirk and EOP drafted a proposed settlement which would allow the Kirk to remain in the facilities which have now been awarded to EOP. EOP voted to accept that settlement on September 19. The Kirk congregation voted to accept that settlement on October 19. The Court requires a final journal entry to conclude the hearing on September 9 and all parties are working on the language of that final order. We are asking that it be a joint filing by attorneys for all three parties, as the language is largely that which was proposed originally by the Kirk's attorney. I have no word yet on whether the filing will be made by all three attorneys or not.
It is unfortunate that some of the normal conversations between attorneys which always accompany such discussions were forwarded to the media. However, it is not PCUSA or EOP which has tried to change any terms of the proposed settlement. Judge Sellers has ruled on the case and has determined that a journal entry will be placed in the Court record, whether the attorneys agree on common language or not. He has stated this on the record on multiple occasions. We see no reason not to settle and we remain confident that this matter will move forward.
If you have questions on these or any other matters, please do not hesitate to call the presbytery office. Dana Bailey or I would be more than happy to answer your questions or visit with your Session. In the meantime, please continue to pray for all involved, most especially the Kirk congregation.