I might get excommunicated for this.

I am a survivor of domestic violence, and I just got formally indicted by the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) for not cooperating with various instructions about speaking out regarding my experience of injustice surrounding abuse in the church.  Indictment is the first step in a disciplinary process that can lead to excommunication, and it’s meant to be employed only when someone is committing heinous sin.  My crime?  Holding this sign, among other things:

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Below is the indictment issued by Faith Presbyterian Church in Watkinsville, Georgia (with non-officers’ names redacted.)  My response follows.

jessica-fore-indictment-redacted

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September 22, 2016

To Whom It May Concern:

This is in response to Faith Presbyterian Church’s formal indictment of me for “contempt toward the Church and its leaders,” dated September 12, 2016.  First, I will summarize the events leading up to the indictment to the best of my recollection:  I was hired as Faith’s worship leader in the fall of 2008.  I was married to an abusive spouse at the time.  My husband’s abuse escalated and became known in a dramatic way with copious evidence over the course of several months in 2009.  Audio recordings, photographic evidence, police reports, psychological evaluations, and eyewitness testimony by various elders and church members corroborated his abuse, lying, and criminal activity.  Nevertheless, the church predicated me keeping my job on reconciling and cohabiting with him, and ultimately fired me for remaining separated.  I was already in a vulnerable financial situation and was plunged into poverty for the next three years.  Had it not been for the help of friends and family, I would have become homeless.

After I recovered, I confronted the Session about what it had done.  In 2013, after much arm twisting, the Session issued a public apology for its lack of “shepherding care” when I experienced a “series of extremely painful events.”  Abuse was not mentioned.  The Session never expressed repentance for firing me, never set the record straight with the congregation that I was a victim of domestic violence, and never pursued any kind of restitution.  I have seen no substantive change in the Session’s attitude toward abuse in the church.  I have not seen the Session deploy any new churchwide policies or leadership training that would improve the church’s response to abuse victims in the future.  On the contrary, as I have continued coping with the fallout from all of this, the Session has taken new adverse actions against me.  In 2014, the Session affirmed my closest friends shunning me in response to me trying to resolve a related grievance with them.  In 2015, the Session brought a Licensed Professional Counselor, a church member, into a Session meeting to advise on my mental state and what was best for me in absentia, without my knowledge or consent, based on the testimony of the opposing parties in the grievance.  In 2015, the Session launched a formal disciplinary investigation into the grievance that consisted of having one called Session meeting with the opposing parties and then issuing written conclusions and directives at me.  In 2016, the Session attempted to limit my fellowship in the church without due process by instructing me not to attend a Gospel Community Group which I had previously attended faithfully for several years.

After many patient attempts to address these issues privately, I sent an open letter to the whole church via email in July 2015 and a follow up letter in May 2016, and I escalated a formal complaint which is currently pending before the Georgia Foothills Presbytery.  I attended my Gospel Community Group and said that I would keep attending in defiance of the Session’s attempt to restrict me without due process.  In the last few months, I have kept a sign propped at my feet during worship which reads “Justice, not Abuse.”  The sign is my personal expression of lament in worship, and a visual reminder to everyone that these things are happening and the Session still hasn’t repented.  So now the Session has decided to formally indict me, the first step in a process that can lead to excommunication, not in response to me committing any immoral act, but simply for not “submitting” to the elders.  Elders told me not to send my letter, not to attend my small group, and not to hold my sign; I did it anyway.  The Session issued the indictment on my birthday and appointed the attorney/elder who mediated my divorce to prosecute the charges.

Here is my response:  when I joined the church, I agreed to submit to its government and discipline as constrained by the Word of God and the PCA Book of Church Order.  The Session is in violation of both as delineated below and in my formal complaint before the Presbytery.  The Book of Church Order affirms individuals’ inalienable rights of private judgment on all matters which are not explicitly in violation of God’s law, and prohibits church leaders from making any additional laws to bind the conscience, as discussed in the following BCO Preliminary Principles:

  1.  God alone is Lord of the conscience and has left it free from any doctrines or commandments of men (a) which are in any respect contrary to the Word of God, or (b) which, in regard to matters of faith and worship, are not governed by the Word of God. Therefore, the rights of private judgment in all matters that respect religion are universal and inalienable.
  1.  All church power, whether exercised by the body in general, or by representation, is only ministerial and declarative since the Holy Scriptures are the only rule of faith and practice. No church judicatory may make laws to bind the conscience. 

In other words, the authority of elders is limited.  Elders don’t get to issue edicts to adults and punish noncompliance just because they’re elders.  If an elder instructs me to do something that is contrary to God’s word or unaddressed in God’s word but violates my conscience, neither God nor the BCO require me to submit to that.  The burden of proof is on the Session to show that a specific action (sending an open letter, saying I would attend a Gospel Community Group, or bringing my “Justice, not Abuse” sign to worship services) is a violation of the law of God according to Scripture in order to present it as an offense for church discipline (BCO 29-1.)  None of these actions violate God’s law; they’re just inconvenient for the Session.  My conscience requires me to bring issues of injustice surrounding abuse in the church into the open and to insist they be meaningfully addressed.  I believe God has called me to do this.  I will not allow what I’ve experienced to be shoved aside and buried in bureaucracy so that church leaders can maintain power and control.

The purpose of church discipline is to address gross unrepentant sin or immorality that endangers someone’s soul.  It’s not to exert control over conscionable behavior that you don’t like, put a woman in her place for challenging you, silence someone who is speaking up about injustice, or engage in whistleblower retribution when you are being held accountable for wrongdoing.  If what I’ve said about the Session in my open letters weren’t true, the church could indict me for lying.  If I were engaged in immorality, the church could indict me for that.  But since you know perfectly well that I’m telling the truth, and am a genuine Christian acting in good conscience, the strongest thing you’ve come up with to indict me for is not “submitting” to your control.  Spinning my noncompliance as a mortal sin against Jesus Christ is a petty, frivolous power play, and this whole situation is the most shameful failure of leadership I’ve ever personally witnessed in fifteen years of vocational ministry.

Jesus Christ is my Lord, and I will obey Him.  I am a sinner and far from perfect, but my conscience is clear before God on the essential points of this matter.  There are two ways the Session can get my sign out of the Sanctuary.  The first is a sea change pertaining to abuse in the church, with abject, unequivocal public repentance for the issues I’ve raised, accompanied by churchwide abuse and domestic violence training for all leaders.  This is how the Session should have responded to this whole situation long ago.  The second is a spurious excommunication with our whole community and the wider body of Christ watching, followed by appeals all the way up to PCA General Assembly.  I’m fine either way.  If you put me on trial, it will be the proudest moment of my life thus far, in the company of my heroes, and in the company of Christ.

Sincerely,

Jessica Fore, The Accused

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60 thoughts on “I might get excommunicated for this.

  1. Jessica – my counsel to you is to leave, never look back and toss into the trash any correspondence you get from these men. They are not operating in Christ.

    “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse” by VanVonderen is a good book to read.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. If it were me, I would say be prepared to leave, but I understand you taking a stand. I would be inclined to write the best speech of my life and make the absolute most noise I possibly could on the way out the door. Bless you.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. I’m not sure Jessica is wanting our advice our counsel. I think she has carefully weighed up her options and chosen to pursue the matter this way. I know she has sought counsel privately from many people, for a long time before she went public with this post. I respect her choice to handle her situation this way.

      Liked by 4 people

    3. This. I too have been there, done this. Your account of what this church has done could almost be mine, even down to details like calling in hack Christian therapists who are willing to diagnose and analyze someone who isn’t their client and never has been.

      It sounds like this is a stacked deck. My experience urges me to urge you to leave. Dust your feet and shake out your robes on the way out if you must, but leave.

      They may try to convince you they’ll win if you leave, that you are conceding. They may tell you and all your friends in the congregation that leaving is an admission of guilt. You are not losing or conceding or admitting anything by walking away. They can say what they want about you, they can’t make it true. Bu leaving, you are refusing to get in the mud to wrestle with pigs, as we say in my corner of the South. You are holding your head up and saying “no more abuse.” Trust me, that’s its own reward.

      You may think you are giving them what they want by going away. Maybe getting rid of you is what they want, but if so, (1) who cares and (2) they’ll get rid of you anyway by trial or by turning up this behavior until you can’t stand it if you don’t go. Leaving on your terms is not a bad choice.

      You may feel that you are leaving your community of support if you leave. Anyone who is truly part of your community of support will support you whether you stay or go.

      God be with you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. In my opinion, you really should pursue legal action against them. I’ve seen too many churches meddle with people’s lives and ruin them in the name of religion. Firing you due to the domestic abuse issues you were involved with is BEYOND illegal. You can even sue for the emotional distress/trauma they caused you. These churches need to realize they are not above the law and what they are doing is criminal. Needs to be more than just a letter of complaint on your part or this behavior will continue to be tolerated in organized religions. I was raised in the church and am no longer a believer. If you still have faith that’s great, but leaving it up to God isn’t enough action. Please take legal action, as well.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I sued my former church for their abuse. I didn’t get very far legally mainly because I represented myself. But I got what I wanted through the discovery process: the documents they hid from me for two years. If you want some advice or direction, let me know. Maybe through the discovery process you can get a settlement.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jessica, I honour you, I applaud you and I stand with you.

    We (Jeff Crippen and I) have known you for some time now, as you’ve been telling us about this saga. We totally believe you. We know that the things you’ve said here are merely a summary of what these leaders have said and done to you and how they have mistreated you, belittled you, brushed you off, tried to blame you for the situation, etc., etc.

    You have scrupulously followed the path of justice at every step. You’ve sought and listened to the wisdom of many counselors. It’s been harrowing. You’ve been amazingly patient and tenacious. I take my hat off to you. You have sober-mindedly weighed up the potential outcomes of going public and you are prepared to accept them whatever they may be. To me, you are a modern day Esther.

    May your example be one which inspires and empowers other victims to speak out… if and when they feel it is right to do so.

    The torch of justice is blazing, shedding light into the darkness🙂

    Bless you Jessica and ((hugs))

    Liked by 7 people

  5. If you decide to go through with the trial, consult the Book of Church Order. I believe it entitles you to an advocate on your behalf (at least it used to, way back when a very similar kind of thing happened to my family in another church). Pick an advocate who you know you can trust not to stab you in the back and who knows the rules, the Book of Chirch Order, and preferably is well respected in PCA circles. Perhaps an elder or deacon who has indicated sympathy, if there is one, would be willing to serve or at least suggest someone good. Also, be aware that the Book of Church Order is (unlike Scripture) not immutable and amended from time to time. Get the latest version.

    Speaking from experience from a different church (in a denomination I will not name) you should be aware that the outcome of this trial may very well be (pun intended) already predestined (not by God, but man). If your gut tells you that this is the case, please heed it. An advocate may be able to ameliorate the outcome and consequences of such a kangaroo trial, even though he may very well not be able to get you aquitted.

    Going through with this trial will potentially be an experience of spiritual abuse, including requiring you to relive previous abuse by retelling what you went through with your husband again and again. Your righteous deeds and words may be twisted against you, your every mistake, error, or sin be dredged up to prove you are in the wrong. You may be made out to be a liar when you speak truth. You may be brought to the point of questioning your own motives and instincts. You may be betrayed by people you thought were on your side, or at least knew better, by people you once confided in thinking your private confidence would be respected. Hack “Christain counselors” may be brought in to offer opinions that pad your accuser’s case, reinterpret your intentions, diagnose you against your will and without your consent so that the Session can feel justified in treating you like you are nuts and a woman at that.

    When you point out that said counselors have never counseled you, the Session may require you to see one of their counselors. Don’t. Offer an alternative who is neutral if you wish to find a way to cooperate. But don’t go to a “therapist” whose real client is the church, not you. That kind of therapy is unethical and abusive.

    Know that you have the Holy Spirit. Don’t fall into questioning yourself on that, trust His guidance. Know that, in this court, being a woman may put your word and testimony may at a discount compared to any man, and especially any church officer or pal of a church officer. You may feel as though you are shouting into nothing but a high and merciless, unhearing, unfeeling, unthinking wind. You have the Holy Spirit. God does not discount you or your word. God hears you.

    Please go into this with eyes open and only if you are willing to face these very real possibilities. I tell you these things not to scare you, but to encourage and urge you to be strong and know be prepared for what potentially could happen. Be ready to walk away from a loss with your head held up and holding the hand of the Lord, knowing in your heart that you are His.

    For all the world, I wish I had known the potential cost of what I went through before I did it, naively thinking that the Session I dealt with was more concerned with justice and mercy, and that the “peace and purity of the church” was not a just euphemism for “the illusion of peace, peace even when there is no peace.” Pearls before swine — I say that not bitterly, but because that parable aptly describes the experience I ultimately went through. For me, it was not worth it. Though I have long forgiven and moved on with my life, twenty years on the wounds are still deep and painful. I’m grateful for the lessons I have learned from them, the compassion that can only come from wounds like that, but I’d far rather not have to carry them.

    Whatever you decide, God be with you and give you strength. I will pray for you. Don’t let them define for you who you are, or what a win is for you in this situation, or your worth and standing before the Lord. You are loved. You are valuable. Whether you resign or go to trial, you will survive this, put these people behind you, and move on.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Go Jessica, go! This is putrid evil that has been put upon you now for a long, long time by that “church.” And I know that you haven’t yet told publicly all the evil you have experienced in that place. You have been very patient and strong. I do not doubt that these church leaders, elders, pastors, session and presbytery men will try to drag the process along, just hoping you will go away. But what they don’t know is, Jessica isn’t going to just go away! That they are going to have to learn the hard way it appears.

    Liked by 6 people

  7. I’m one who can truly say ‘I know what you are going through’. My journey involves the Presbyterian Church of Australia. My complaint is before their courts at the moment so I cannot give out any information. I have written a book about the background of my complaint, it is called ‘Prised Open’. Please let me know if I can be of assistance to you as the two denominations sound very similar and I have become quite an expert in Presbyterian Polity over the last five years. I will pray for you.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I know rhondajeannie personally and I vouch for her.

      She is a stalwart truth-teller. She exposes and confronts corruption and unethical behaviour when she sees it. And she does this not because she’s a complainer who relishes taking vengeance, but because she’s simply a follower of Christ and loves His church.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. “The Session issued the indictment on my birthday and appointed the attorney/elder who mediated my divorce to prosecute the charges.”

    This might be a wild goose chase and I don’t know if it applies to this situation at all (most lawyers are pretty careful about these things, and I have no reason not to fully expect and hope this one is totally ethical), but it may be worth it to look up the Georgia attorney ethics rules and Georgia law on such things as attorney conflict of interest, confidentiality of statements made in mediation, etc. Just to see what you find out about what your rights might be, if any.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Jessica,

    I am an ordained pastor in the PCA. The congregation I serve is Grace North Atlanta. It’s the most beautiful church community I’ve ever been a part of much less have the privilege of serving as pastor. Grace North Atlanta used to be in PCA – long story you don’t want to hear about. But click on our website if you’d like – and come hang out with us sometime! http://www.gracenorth.org

    If you do move on, I can promise you the people in our church community will embrace you and love on you. Do not hesitate to call me anytime. My mobile is 770-331-1010 and email john@gracenorth.org

    I have to say, I am shaking my head not only at your story but also in disbelief at what a remarkable job you did articulating in your letter one of the most foundational theological commitments in Reformed ecclesiolgy or doctrine of the church. I am wondering if anyone helped you with it – and please know I don’t intend that in a condescending manner even though I know it sounds that way. The reason I am shaking my head in disbelief at YOUR letter is because you are dead right – spot on – you drew upon exactly the right point of emphasis in the PCA Book of Church Order. The preliminary principles to which you refer are rooted in one of the most valuable theological distinctives in the Westminster Confession of Faith, the chapter on Liberty of Conscience, which emphasizes “God alone is Lord of the conscience.”

    I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have found not only elders but pastors in the PCA who did not understand the sigificance of the theological commitments you articulated so well.

    Hang in there – I hope that you will call or email me.

    Your brother in Christ,
    John Hardie

    Liked by 5 people

    1. John Hardie, thank you so much for speaking out publicly and honouring Jessica in the way you did.

      I wish there were more men like you in leadership!

      Any man like you who is in leadership at a church is no doubt extremely busy with all the responsibilities he has to his congregation. But if you ever have time and inclination to dig into the topic of domestic abuse in the evangelical church, and god-honouring responses to that issue, I encourage you to visit A Cry For Justice. That is the blog I co-lead with Ps Jeff Crippen. Find us at cryingoutforjustice.com

      Bless you John, and may the Lord give strength to your arm and your voice!

      Liked by 3 people

  10. Bless you, Jessica. You have so many people here encouraging you and urging you to be strong. I haven’t had nearly your experience, though my husband has had a very similar one. I don’t want to speak for him, but the church had its mind made up, and nothing was ever reconciled–a very long story, as you can imagine. It was awful. Having said that….I don’t know whether to say to toss it all in the trash, don’t look back, and build a new life and church fellowship somewhere else, or stand your ground and meet them straightforwardly on all points. God will open the right path for you at the right time. Watch for it, and then move boldly. Hugs….

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I know that the increasing popularity of complementarianism has created a scenario in which the end-all and be-all of Christianity is marriage, which must be upheld as the ideal for everyone. To suggest it is anything less than perfection is to deny that interpretation of God’s Word. It often results in creating an environment where abuse can exist and thrive, puts the blame on you to stop causing it – “be more submissive” or “don’t do whatever you did that caused him to get angry” – they’re not interested in sending him to get anger management counseling. It is systemic, not isolated. The best thing you can do is to leave behind complementarian teachings and denominations and continue to challenge the teaching that permits abuse.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Jamie Carter, please be aware that anger management classes are not the appropriate treatment for abusers. If you want to know why, go to cryingoutforjustice.com and put ‘anger management’ into the search bar.

      The short explanation is —
      The abuser doesn’t have a problem controlling his anger: he can control his anger when he’s at his workplace, when he’s at church, when he’s with bystanders.

      His problem is not that he can’t control his anger. His problem is in his THINKING and his BELIEFS. The abuser believes he is entitled to mistreat his partner, that he owns her, and he has the right to control her.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for correcting me. I figured that there was bound to be something out there that is better than noulithic / christian counseling – but I couldn’t think of a better suggestion off of the top of my head as I’m not very familiar with resources to help abusers stop being abusive. What would you recommend?

        Like

  12. I love what you’re doing here. You’re clearly strong enough to take things this far, and I applaud you for doing so. I know a lot of folks wouldn’t be able to do this, and that’s completely understandable, but you have the strength and the mind and you’re not shying from a bully. Keep us posted!

    Liked by 3 people

  13. A truly angering and heart-breaking story. Angering in how these elders have failed pastorally on such an epic scale. Heart-breaking in what you endured (and are enduring) from people claiming Christ’s name.

    May God go before you in this and give you justice!

    Liked by 3 people

  14. Jessica-

    Thank you for your post! I am encouraged and find myself especially mulling over your comments regarding conscience. This helps me understand my own situation a little better.

    I am not a person who has experienced abuse, but I have spent the last couple years standing beside a woman who has. As a result, I willingly left my church. I chose not to do as you are (I do admire you so!), partly because this church is an independent Bible church. There is NO recourse whatsoever if you disagree with leadership. There was no point in trying to discuss anything because they simply will not even have a conversation with us. If anyone asks why we left, I simply tell them. I have learned of several others experiencing these things too.

    Someone told me ‘but for the grace of God go I.’ But I say it’s God’s grace that confronted me with these hardships, that brought my friend and I together. My abused friend can say the same. Here’s why. Now I can hear suffering and have some understanding. I have also witnessed first hand how God has set a captive free. My family–husband and three children–are all better off for standing with the oppressed. God has repaid my friend in goodness and mercy for the years of abuse and despicable counsel (from Christians…).

    Jessica, I pray God’s blessing on you as you stand up against what the church is still trying to do to you. We each have to do as He wants. Some stay, like you, and vocalize the injustice. Some, like me, left and talk as need arises. Nonetheless, One Day all will be made known. Until then, the Lord sustains us and comforts us.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Jessica
      I would like to feature your post this week. Could you explain the situation regarding the couple? Does this have something to do with community group? I know that such a question will come up in the comments so I thought I would address it up front if possible.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I don’t understand how a church can allow an abuse situation to sink to such awful depths in the way that they treat the abused. I would love to see their actual “church covenant” since it appears that you simply affirm it and that you don’t sign anything. This is of particular concern for me as we look at joining a PCA church that we’ve attended for a few years. BTW, they have put no pressure on us to join and they have no problems with us serving even though we haven’t joined, it just concerns me.

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      1. I understand, I’ve written quite a bit on it, she made an affirmation to questions that they called their church covenant and I’m curious as to what they asked when she joined. I would think that this would be important to understand for anyone considering making similar verbal affirmations at their church but I can’t find anything on their website that provides detail on the actual questions that she would have affirmed. People need to know the potential ramifications of answering those seemingly innocuous questions. If it’s just a simple profession of faith and an acknowledgement of their doctrine (WCF in the case of PCA) that’s one thing, but I’m guessing that based on their website that there were some strategic questions that they included that may have been red flags that most people might miss.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. These are the five membership vows for joining a PCA church:

        1) Do you acknowledge yourselves to be sinners in the sight of God, justly deserving His displeasure, and without hope save [except] in His sovereign mercy?

        2) Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God, and Savior of sinners, and do you receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation as He is offered in the Gospel?

        3) Do you now resolve and promise, in humble reliance upon the grace of the Holy Spirit, that you will endeavor to live as becomes the followers of Christ?

        4) Do you promise to support the church in its worship and work to the best of your ability?

        5) Do you submit yourselves to the government and discipline of the church, and promise to study its purity and peace?

        I don’t believe there was a signed membership covenant, just a verbal acknowledgement before the congregation.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. May I just gently point out how quite a few commenters on this thread have told Jessica what they think she should do?

    And may I draw those commenters’ attention to the fact that Jessica may have already thought through the options of what she could do? And that she may not need or be seeking advice from any of us?

    I am confident that if Jessica has wanted advice, she has ably sought it from those she thinks can wisely give it to her.

    I know that most if not all of the commenters in this thread have been well-meaning. But it seems to me that some commenters have made the assumption that they know what Jessica should and shouldn’t be doing. And I know that most of those people (if not all of them) are speaking from their own experience and the wisdom they gained from that experience, and they are trying to help Jessica avoid the same pain they went through in their confrontations with Pharisaic churches.

    But let’s be wise and realistic: each survivor of abuse is at liberty to respond to the abuse in the way she or he individually chooses to respond.

    If Jessica chooses to continue appealing to PCA church courts right up to the General Assembly, I honour her for that choice — not because it’s the only “right” choice, but because its HER choice, and I honor her freedom to choose how she wants to respond to what her church is doing to her.

    Some people would not choose to respond to religious abuse the way Jessica is choosing to respond to it. Some would choose to walk away and shake the dust off their feet.. That’s fine. That’s an honourable choice too, But please let’s not take it upon ourselves to tell Jessica that she should shake the dust off her feet now! It’s up to her when and if she chooses to shake the dust off her feet.

    In the name of Christian liberty — and as an advisory caution about generalising our own personal situations onto the situation of a fellow believer — I plea for respect and honour and liberty to be accorded to Jessica Fore, our sister in Christ.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Uh-oh. It looks like the session is using the church version of the medical world’s “garbage pail” diagnosis. Whenever a session wants to prosecute a case, but it doesn’t have any clear infractions of God’s law to go after, they opt for “contempt for the church and its leaders.” This is a catch-all charge that should not withstand any serious scrutiny. The session may be using it like corporations and governments use nonsense lawsuits. The goal is to intimidate the accused, not to seek justice.

    If you have the stomach for it, Jessica, you could continue with the process–provided that you have a qualified defense counsel. You would probably lose at the church level. I don’t know anything about the church’s presbytery, so I can’t comment on your chances for an appeal. However, in the public opinion’s courtroom (to say nothing about God’s!), you have an excellent chance to win.

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  18. Your congregation seems to have forgotten (if ever it knew) that in Calvin’s church in Geneva the single biggest reason people got excommunicated was for the sin of spousal abuse (See “A Life of John Calvin” by Alister McGrath).

    Rev. Ben Daniel, Pastor
    Montclair Presbyterian Church
    Oakland, CA

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    1. Thanks for that info, Benjamin. I shall look up McGrath’s book.

      Did you know that Calvin’s consistory refused to give safe haven to a French noblewoman who was a victim of domestic abuse? It is documented in “The Register of the Company of Pastors in Geneva in the Time of Calvin” (edited and translated by Philip Edgecumbe Huges. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1996, pp 193-198)

      And I reproduced that material (with permission) in appendix 11 of my book “Not Under Bondage: Biblical Divorce for Abuse, Adutlery and Desertion”.

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  19. Jessica, from reading this it seems to me that you have been horribly wronged. Unfortunately, after decades of both service in my churches and incorporate business environments, I’ve found that organized religion churches, while performing many good purposes, tend to be the places with the worst politics and interpersonal dealings. Compared to secular situations, churches seem to occupy a special corner of the Twilight Zone.

    I still attend a Missouri Synod Lutheran church, and I can’t see myself going anywhere else. I just can’t deny the weirdness I’ve witnessed when it comes to conflict management. LCMS churches don’t hold sway over membership to the degree that you describe here. I don’t know many that do. While you may feel a lifelong attachment to your church, I’d say you’d be well-justified to find yourself another denomination to attend.

    Excommunication? Seriously? Over this? At the end of the day, they’re just men. Only God can call someone “out.”

    Like

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