Will the Investigatory Commission Meet Again?

 

The Editor of ARPTalk is hearing from numerous sources that there is going to be another meeting of the Investigatory Commission of General Synod on Erskine College and Seminary. Because of the abbreviated nature of the 2010 General Synod, the Investigatory Commission was not dismissed and is still functioning in accordance with its charge to investigate and report on Erskine matters.

According to sources that are not on the Commission, the Commission may meet early next week.

Why would the Commission meet again? There is only one reason for the Commission to meet: NEW ERSKINE MATTERS.

According to sources, there is a new proposal from the plaintiffs’ (David Chesnut, Richard Taylor, and Parker Young) attorneys on the table. Since the meeting of General Synod in June, numerous proposals have been offered; however, the proffered proposals added stipulations to the Patrick-Wingate Compromise that was adopted by General Synod. The Editor has not read the recent proposal, but he is under the impression that this proposal accedes to the points of the compromise that was adopted by General Synod.

Since the meeting of General Synod, the lawyers for the plaintiffs have attempted to negotiate changes in the language of the Patrick-Wingate Compromise. According to sources, the representatives of General Synod have remained adamant in holding to what General Synod adopted as non-negotiable. It seems that the plaintiffs’ attorneys wanted General Synod to guarantee that there will be no ecclesiastical charges brought against plaintiffs Richard Taylor and Parker Young by their presbyteries.

If it is true that the lawyers of the plaintiffs are prepared to accede to the Patrick-Wingate Compromise, what has changed?

South Carolina is a small state. The legal community in South Carolina is not large. Judges are also a part of the legal community. Would it surprise us if we were to learn that lawyers take care of one another? Would it surprise us to learn that leaks occur in Columbia? So, could it be that the lawyers of the plaintiffs have learned that there is a strong possibility that the Appeals Court is going to rule against the plaintiffs? Indeed, has not the Appeals Court already overturned four of the five rulings made by Judge Griffith?

If the Editor’s speculation is correct and the Appeals Court is about to rule against the plaintiffs, is now not the time to settle? If the Appeals Court rules against the plaintiffs and if the Supreme Court of South Carolina would be willing to hear that appeal, the next step will be very costly. Therefore, it seems that a ruling against the plaintiffs would be definitive. That is, a ruling against the plaintiffs would close the door to this matter. With a settlement, there is both cost containment at this time and the road up legal mountain is still open.

The news from Mr. Tom Patterson, the Stated Clerk of First Presbytery, is that plaintiff Parker Young has resigned from the Session of the Pinecrest ARP Church. This is surprising. At the Newberry Courthouse, plaintiff Parker Young was bold in defending his actions in taking the ARP Church to civil court. All the readers of ARPTalk are aware that, because of his actions in taking his denomination to court, ecclesiastical charges have been brought against plaintiff Parker Young in First Presbytery for disturbing the peace of the church. Is this resignation an attempt to avoid ecclesiastical censure? Is plaintiff Parker Young attempting to avoid giving answers to his brothers in First Presbytery for what many consider an inappropriate and sinful action? However, his resignation does not get him off the hook in First Presbytery. He is still a member of First Presbytery. Does not his resignation make him look something other than confident in his defense of his actions?

There are also other Erskine matters for the Investigatory Commission to consider. First, there is the matter of student Zach Keuthan. Mr. Keuthan is the student who conflicted with Dr. Bill Crenshaw. According to the newspaper story and Mr. Keuthan’s testimony, Dr. Crenshaw told Mr. Keuthan that he, Mr. Keuthan, was a liar and to enjoy his evangelical hell. Mr. Keuthan filed a complaint with then Erskine President Ruble. Mr. Keuthan’s appeal was eventually brought before the Board, and then Mr. Keuthan appealed his complaint to SACS. That this issue might be a matter before the Investigatory Commission is not overreaching the bounds of the possible.

Another matter that may be before the Commission is the October meeting of the Erskine Board. This Erskine Board meeting is going to be contentious and pivotal. By-law changes and Charter changes are probably going to be on the agenda. Is there going to be another attempt to change the governance of Erskine College and Seminary in such a manner as to rule the ARP Church “OUT”? The Editor is willing to give odds that this will take place!

What other items are there for the Investigatory Commission’s attention? We will have to wait and see.

These are my thoughts,

Charles W. Wilson

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  1. Dean Turbeville says:

    “Never does the cause of Christ suffer so much as when the devil succeeds in bringing churches into collisions and law-suits with the civil power. In such collisions precious time is wasted, energies are misapplied, ministers are diverted from their proper work, the souls of people suffer and a church’s victory often proves only one degree better than a defeat.”
    JC Ryle, commenting on Mark 12:13-17

     
  2. Brian Smith says:

    Charles,

    Not sure if you are aware of this but, I recieved an email asking for me to suppor the ‘EC foundation, INC’ not long ago. Their mission statement seems to go completely against what is stated on the EC/Seminary website as ‘THE’ current mission of the school. Why fight against what appears to be a perfectly good mission statement for a ‘Christian’ college AND seminary? It really seems to me that this foundation want the power that the ARP denomination rightfully has! After thinking about this the other day with my co-workers, I think that its sort of sinister. What are your thoughts? For your info= below is their vision for EC and the Seminary:

    This Foundation is created to provide support and financial stability for these institutions during one of the most significant threats to their existence in their 170 year history. As such we pledge to support these institutions as they are involved in any civil litigation.

    This Foundation pledges to support these institutions during this time of reevaluation of commitments and responsibilities to and with the sponsoring denomination, the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.

    This Foundation assures all constituents of Erskine College and Seminary that it will promote these institutions as envisioned by the founding fathers – as institutions which promote Knowledge Joined with Morals – as a Christian Liberal Arts College – and as a Conservative Christian Seminary dedicated to providing educated clergy in the ARP Church as well as in a variety of other denominations.

    This Foundation will foster a culture in Erskine College and Seminary which is open, supportive, and encouraging, where personal and professional growth is fostered and where faculty, staff and students are treated fairly. We will not tolerate intimidation from any constituent.

    This Foundation will be financially responsible and accountable with all assets which are entrusted to it. We will use sound and widely accepted financial-management practices. We will work together with these institutions to assure their financial well-being and to provide strategic incentives for academic excellence.

    This Foundation will comply with and make every effort to exceed all legal, regulatory and ethical requirements that apply to any supportive involvement we have now or develop in the future with both of these institutions that we cherish.

     
  3. Chuck Wilson says:

    Brian,

    You ask if I have seen the e-mail that the EC Foundation has sent out soliciting support.

    No, I haven’t seen it. Thanks for posting the info on the EC Foundation.

    You ask: “Why fight against what appears to be a perfectly good mission statement for a ‘Christian’ college AND seminary?”

    That’s a good question. I think they have answered the question. They disagree with the present mission statement. They reject the faith of the ARP Church. They desire a change in governance, and they are working to that end. That is why they are asking for money. They are paying the attorneys’ fees for the plaintiffs who have taken the ARP Church to civil court. Plainly, they desire to STEAL Erskine College and Seminary from the ARP Church. And like most liberals (political or theological), they make an art form of using the civil courts. From what you post, it seems that you agree with most of my conclusion regarding the EC Foundation and their fellow travelers. I agree with you. Yes, it is “sinister”.

    You ask: “What are your thoughts?”

    Once again, let me direct you to back issues of ARPTalk (particularly. ARPTalk(Extra12): “The Mutinous Erskine Board of Thieves” and ARPTalk(Extra13): “Rodney King Evangelicals”). Now, let me make one further comment. Many of the leaders in the EC Foundation were former administrators at Erskine and are members of the Due West ARP Church. It is sad to see such betrayal of the ARP Church from those who were so trusted by the ARP Church and who are members of an ARP congregation. I am reminded of these words from 1 John 2:19: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”

    Chuck

     
  4. Brian Smith says:

    Charles,
    Thanks again for your responses. FWIW, I will not be giving money to the EC Foundation. But I still don’t think that a committee or select individuals from the ARP should control EC. I mean you cannot make a college ‘Christian’ just like you cannot make a church full of ‘Christians’.

    I guess I wonder why the ARP ‘gods’ don’t single out the problem people you mention AND the EC Board of Trustees do not stop/condemn the lawsuit. This whole thing seems kinda simple to me. You would think that most ARP ministers and EC Board members who care for EC should want to continue the Christian mission statement already in place.
    Not to argue from my Baptist perspective, but its like my pastor said about the situation: the ARPs are as sorry as the board because they are not committed to their faith but to the pleasing of people.

    Thanks again for the lunch break discussion.