An Appeal Will Be Filed

October 1, 2011

The Complainants’ Counsel in the matter of Parnell et al v. San Francisco Presbytery will appeal the Synod of the Pacific Permanent Judicial Commission (SPJC) Ruling rendered on September 17. They have until the end of October to file the Notice of Appeal with the General Assembly PJC.

The GAPJC in August remanded two specifications of error to the Synod, which wrote a new ruling to respond to the biblical, theological, and historical evidence presented to it. Rather than judge the claims made by either complainants or the presbytery according to the Scripture and confessions, the Synod PJC came to an absurd conclusion. As noted here last Monday, the SPJC wrote, “This Commission holds that in the case of this particular candidate and her particular departure, the Presbytery of San Francisco’s ordination decision did not constitute a doctrinal error, nor was it an abuse of discretion.” The main reason given was this: “The record and trial testimony make clear that interpretations of scripture and the confessions, and the conclusions that result from those interpretations, have not been uniform in the history and practice of the Church. . . .This range of interpretations reached through thoughtful and prayerful discernment is, in itself, evidence that the candidate’s departure cannot be from an essential of Reformed faith and polity.”

Believing this reasoning is corrupt, unPresbyterian, and unsustainable in the long run, the complainants seek redress with the highest level of judicial review, the GAPJC. It is the only way to avert the confusion that is inevitable if the Synod decision is left to stand without a challenge.

It was a difficult decision to commit to an appeal. But in the end, we realized that if we did not, we would be quitting the race before it was over and would have failed in our main objective: to gain clarity on PCUSA ordination standards, the essentials of Reformed faith and polity, and the consistency of church discipline. So, one more step and then this case has run its course. If Complainants prevail, the church will have declared its intention to submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and abide by clear scriptural teaching. If Respondents (San Francisco Presbytery) prevail, the church will retreat from, if not deconstruct, Presbyterianism, which will no longer have reliable essentials of Reformed faith and polity nor a workable system for discipline and theological integrity. We simply cannot let such a sea change like that happen without getting a final answer from the body ultimately responsible for doctrinal and behavioral discipline.



9 Responses to “An Appeal Will Be Filed”

  1. Mary Fields Says:

    Best wishes.

  2. Viola Larson Says:

    Mary, as I have read through your postings I realized that you had no other recourse; you had to for the sake of the faith appeal. May the Lord of the church stand with you giving you all the strength I know you need. You are all faithful servants of Christ on behalf of the rest of us. God grant us all his mercy.

  3. John E. Says:

    Mary, I do not want to discourage you, but I strongly suspect this appeal will end up being a waste of time and resources. I do not believe the GAPJC is capable of issuing a ruling based on clear biblical and theological principles. I wish you Godspeed nonetheless. Bless you.

  4. Jake Horner Says:


    I think you probably made the best decision. I also think you probably have people all over the country that will support you and your team.

    In Christ,

    Jake H.

  5. Steve N. Says:

    Mary, God’s blessings on the team as you continue to fight the good fight. While it may be a long shot that the GAJPC will “see the light,” what would the odds makers say the odds of David beating Goliath be?

    By the way, if my personal philosophy of hight makes right can be of any use, I am willing to offer all 78 inches of me to the cause. ::-)

  6. Matt Ferguson Says:

    Thank you for opting to appeal the ruling. I know it adds another weight to the load you are carrying but I believe it is the right thing to do and it is the path of obedience in following Jesus. The greater clarity the GAPJC ruling should bring (either way) will be beneficial to many of us. God’s blessings to you, Matt

  7. Linda Lee Says:

    Praying for God to pour out His Strength and wisdom as this goes to the higher court. Thanks for taking another stand with Shield in hand. God will have the last word.

    • revmary Says:

      Linda, make note of the date of the original posting. We finished all the legal work in 2012. Love to you!

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