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:
- 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.
- 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 SessionNovember 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.