Report on GAPJC Proceedings

April 28, 2012

Yesterday (Friday) my legal colleague Bruce McIntosh and I argued before the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission (GAPJC) at 3 p.m. EDT in Indianapolis, IN. It was, we assume, the last appeal in the matter of Parnell et al v. San Francisco Presbytery, over the Presbytery’s approval of Lisa Larges’ ordination examination in the fall of 2009. (Yes, the wheels turn slowly in our system.) Fourteen GAPJC members heard the case. The Presbytery was represented by Mr. Doug Nave, an attorney who seems to represent “the other side” in many of these cases as they come up. This is our fifth face-off.  Though the room was large and could have accommodated quite a gallery, only about a dozen observers sat in on the proceedings. Among them were Lisa Larges and the Rev. Janie Spahr (HR) and one dear pastor who got the Presbyterian Coalition prayer alert that day and drove over an hour to stand with us in prayer and support. What a gift he was to us!

As to the proceedings, each side is given a total of thirty minutes and we, as complainants/appellants are given the privilege to reserve some of that time for rebuttal. Bruce and I divided our allotted time, with Bruce speaking first for ten minutes; then Mr. Nave spoke for about 20-25 minutes, and then I used our reserved time in both rebuttal and a prepared closing. The text of our oral arguments follows in a separate post later today. After our formal presentations, the commissioners questioned us all for an hour or so. Their queries were interesting, probing, not combative, and respectful. We had the opportunity to clarify some points from our brief and to address concerns they had for their role in the process. We felt that God helped us remember salient points, tie concepts together, and remain faithful to our task. It is a humbling experience, but good spiritual exercise to defend our faith and stand for biblical faithfulness in a high-stakes environment. We leave the results both to the commissioners and to God.

We will be receiving the Decision and Order late Monday or early Tuesday, and are authorized to post it at 11 a.m. PDT (2:00 Eastern) on Tuesday. “Read it here first!”

 

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