Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
It is with great disappointment that I am writing you this note. As you know, on September 19, 2008, Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery voted unanimously to sell the property located at 61st and Yale and known as Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church to the current congregation of the Kirk of the Hills. Correspondingly, the Kirk of the Hills congregation approved the same motion on October 19, 2008. A specific term of those motions was for a closing to occur on or before November 15, 2008. Despite the continuing efforts of Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery and our counsel, Craig Hoster, the Kirk of the Hills leadership was not willing to close the real estate transaction within the designated time period.
During the week following the Kirk congregation’s approval of the settlement, the Presbytery office received calls from both a bank and a title company to request routine information which would have led to the closing being completed in a timely manner; however, the Kirk of the Hills leadership soon thereafter began a series of allegations that somehow the PCUSA had defaulted on the terms of the settlement motions by requiring a written order reflecting the judge's ruling of September 9, 2008. Yet, the PCUSA never changed its position or required an additional term. Moreover, we have written communication from the Kirk negotiator reflecting his understanding of the same. That written order was clearly contemplated by the District Court. Indeed, the Court reaffirmed this interpretation on October 6, when it directed that if the parties were unable to agree on a journal entry recording the decision, the Court would enter its own. That written order was entered by the Court on November 4, and is consistent with the Court’s September 9 oral pronouncement. On the same date, the judge, without request by any party, further ordered that the ownership of all of the church property, both real and personal, was quieted in the name of Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery and that EOP would obtain possession of the church property on December 1, 2008, at 5:00 p.m.
In preparation for closing the settlement, EOP, with the assistance of our counsel, provided appropriate forms of closing documents to the Kirk leadership and its counsel; however, all attempts at setting the closing were delayed repeatedly. By last Wednesday it became clear that the closing preparations begun in October had stalled shortly thereafter and the Kirk’s leadership was not making preparations to close the transaction by November 15. Yet, Kirk representatives were now complaining of an inability to obtain clear title to the property. Since Wednesday, we have focused our attention on finding a way to honor the votes of EOP and the Kirk congregation while also seeking to address perceived problems to clear title to the property (though we do not believe such problems exist). To that end, we offered to obtain title insurance for the Kirk, at our expense, and we arranged for all closing documents and funds to be placed in escrow on November 15, since it had become too late to obtain the title insurance by that date. These efforts went unacknowledged by the Kirk leadership. Sadly, the November 15 closing deadline established by EOP and the Kirk congregation has now passed, and neither a closing nor escrow has been accomplished.
It appears that the efforts of the Kirk congregation, PCUSA and Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery to resolve the litigation and convey the property to the Kirk to continue its mission and worship have been thwarted by the Kirk leadership or its counsel, despite the actions of the Presbytery and the Kirk congregation. We are greatly disappointed that we have been unable to settle this matter in accordance with the authority given by the Presbytery.
Please continue to pray for the members of the Kirk of the Hills, all of our churches in the Presbytery, and the PCUSA.