Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Letter from the Kirk Session

Why has the Session asked you, the congregation, to vote on the property settlement one more time? The answer is simple, with underlying complexity. We recognize that most of us are a bit fatigued by this process; however, we believe it is necessary. The Lord wants us to be vigilant and carry on with His strength until we get to His conclusion

The simple part is that, technically, after November 15th, the previous settlement agreement ceased to exist. Beyond that, however, one major change occurred:

The PCUSA refused to sign the agreement unless they first received a final judgment from the court. In the original agreement both sides were going to dismiss their parts of the lawsuit and no final judgment was called for. Not having a final judgment was important for two reasons:

  1. If after settling someone challenged the settlement in the PCUSA’s legal system, the Kirk would still have recourse to the courts to defend itself. Once a final judgment is entered and settlement is made, the Kirk loses its right to go back to the civil court if the settlement is challenged.
  2. We didn’t want the PCUSA to have a legal document that they could use to discourage other congregations from trying to leave with their property.

The new agreement has substituted title insurance in place of the right to go back to court. This does not mean that we have a guarantee that the PCUSA or the Synod will forego future legal challenges. Our Title Insurance, though, guarantees that future litigation against our title would be paid through the policy. In addition, our personal property is now better protected because this agreement requires the EOP to defend it for us if it is challenged by the PCUSA or Synod.

What does this change mean to those who voted?

  • Some members voted to settle knowing that if a challenge was made to the settlement within the PCUSA’s legal system, we would have a legal recourse. These individuals might now want to change their vote to ‘appeal’ because they have lost this legal recourse.
  • Some members voted to appeal because they did not feel the terms gave enough protections against legal challenges within the PCUSA’s legal system. These individuals might now want to vote to settle because the title insurance gives more protection against a challenge and the personal property is now better protected.

Another thing that has changed is that the preschool has been able to make alternative arrangements to continue their programs should we have to vacate the property.

Why are we voting on the Sunday evening of Thanksgiving weekend? The EOP and PCUSA required that the vote take place before Dec 2nd. We asked for an extension of the deadline two days so we could hold the vote on Wednesday, Dec 3rd, but the denomination refused to grant it. Under those conditions, we thought the better turnout would be on Sunday rather than Monday evening.

What went on in between October and now was a continuation of difficult negotiations that Tim Trump had initiated on our behalf. This has not been a simple or easy process at any point along the way. Your Session has been meeting almost once a week in order to receive information from our attorneys and to look at proposed settlements. We have all tried to be faithful to the original vote without taking any foolish risk in the purchase.

There has been the suggestion by some that “the pastors are calling for additional votes until it goes the way they want it to..” Nothing could be further from the truth. The pastors have a voice, but no vote on the session or in a congregational meeting. Throughout this time, each pastor has received considerable pressure from a few people to align publically with one side or the other. In spite of that, each of them has chosen not to take a public position.

After the October congregational vote, Tom Gray was asked by the Tulsa World reporter, Bill Sherman, how he felt about the vote and what would have been his vote. Tom answered both questions because he believed, at that time, the decision was final and his words would not have undue influence. His answer was that he would have preferred appealing the case but, at the same time, was satisfied with the congregation’s vote to settle. His faithful focus has been and continues to be to stay neutral while following God’s will and accepting the congregation’s vote as the reflection of God’s will.

All of your pastors and all of your officers will make whatever your decision is work to the best for our congregation, our ministry, and our mission. Kirk of the Hills Session

November 26, 2008

A Called Congregation Meeting is Sunday, November 30th at 7:00 p.m. in the Sanctuary. This meeting is called for the purpose of voting on: 1) the election of officers for the 2012 term and 2) to accept or reject EOP’s final settlement offer. Ballot registration will begin at 4:30. An information meeting regarding the settlement offer will be held in the Sanctuary beginning at 5:00pm. Written questions will be accepted for response by the Pastors and/or Session. Votes may be submitted any time between 4:30-7:30pm.


Anonymous said...

Tom Gray's comment to the Tulsa World reporter, Bill Sherman was TOTALLY inappropriate particularly in his role and he did not have to comment. This comment and other comments by the pastors have been less than the “unity” sermons they are giving.
It is best all future public communications on this matter come from the Sessions and NOT the Pastors. The Pastors should focus on their sermons and LEAVE all comments about the matter out of their sermons; we are rather tired of hearing about it. We can deal with it this situation but when we hear about this topic during the sermon it destroys the message.
I understand the pastors are in a tough spot in this matter, but unfortunately they have created a more difficult situation for themselves by not holding back their comments. It is obvious they want to appeal, and unfortunately many people have a tendency to follow the pastors because they believe they know best.
Well, let’s hope we can get a good turnout for the vote and let God’s will be done.

Reformed Catholic said...

Obviously you've not read the preceding letter from an Elder on the Kirk's Session.

Anonymous said...

Reformed Catholic:
Oh I read the letter; unfortunately some of the statements in the letters do not coincided with the reality of seating in the pew each Sunday and hearing /watching Tom and Wayne suggestive “appeal” comments /emotions on this issue, and fellow congregational members comments. The reality is that Tom and Wayne and many of the staff are glad for this second chance to vote and many of them are hoping for the appeal route. So since the last vote, Tom and Wayne really never got on the bus of the “will of congregation”, even though it was a “razor-thin congregational vote” (Tom’s quote). When they speak regarding buying the church you see their shoulders slump, but when they speak about the appeal route they are giddy kids full of excitement. It is rather interesting to watch. And then they speak of unity in their sermons…….and they are having difficult time walking the talk…and everyone see it.
It is best Tom and Wayne keep low key on this issue..otherwise they are going to upset either one of various parties in the church, which I and no one really wants to happen. I hope and pray the Session have the pastors have a heart-to-heart talk that they need to walk their talk in all venues.

Rev. Toby said...

I wonder who this anonymous commenter is or if he/she is even a real member of the church in question. Hmmm.

Anonymous said...

Rev. Toby:
A real member and very active one. I apologize that it would appear that you would make similar comments as Tom; despite speaking unity.
It is rather interesting the Session stated "...each of them has chosen not to take a public position." and then in the next paragraph stated that Tom did. Just too bizarre. It would had been best for Tom to come put publicly apologize for his blunder of a statement and now the Session has condone the blunder further. Once again the quote was “..Co-pastor Tom Gray, who does not have a vote, said he was satisfied with the vote, although he would have voted to continue with the lawsuit rather than paying for the property again.” (
It sometimes best to keep your thoughts to yourself and attempt to further watch you other actions, but Tom does have a challenge with this. What pains me is that Tom and Wayne have put themselves in a pickle of situation with their actions (you have be there to see it) and hope we are able to work past it. The sooner this lawsuit is over; the better for all because I am concerned just what the PCUSA wish would occur with The Kirk could occur (lack of unity).


jim said...

From a human prospective, both votes (accept, appeal) have negatives and positives. This is a no-win, situation forced by PCUSA and EOP. God's way was for EOP to dismiss Kirk with grace and love and Kirk to give an free-will offering after the settlement.

Anonymous said...

The Kirk vote was 578 to 361 in favor of buying our property.

A Kirk Member

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