From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[PCUSANEWS] Correction - Disciplinary case filed against 215th

Date Sat, 26 Jun 2004 22:48:30 -0500

Note #8306 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:

Correction - Disciplinary case filed against 215th GA moderator
June 26, 2004

Disciplinary case filed against 215th GA moderator

Andrews faulted for supporting openly gay associate pastor

by Alexa Smith

RICHMOND, June 26 - A disciplinary case has been filed against the Rev. Susan
Andrews, moderator of the 215th General Assembly (2003), by an evangelical
activist who has accused more than 20 other Presbyterians of being unfit for

Virginia lawyer Paul Rolf Jensen gave Andrews a copy of a press release about
his allegations during a break in Saturday's plenary session of the 216th
General Assembly.

 It was Andrews' last day as moderator.

Andrews said Jensen also urged her to resign. She said she doesn't know
whether he meant she should resign as moderator or as pastor of Bradley Hills
Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, MD.

National Capital Presbytery has not yet formally received the case, according
to the Rev. Wilson Gunn, the presbytery's general executive.

In his document, which he distributed to the media Saturday, Jensen accuses
Andrews of willfully and deliberately violating her ordination vows by
participating in the installation of a gay associate pastor at Bradley Hills
and by condoning his service in the church.

The constitution of the Presbyterian Church (USA) prohibits the ordination of
sexually active gays and lesbians.

Andrews has openly affirmed the ministries of gay and lesbian Presbyterians.
She stepped down as a board member of the Covenant Network - an organization
that is working to remove the prohibition from the Book of Order - when she
was elected moderator.

Jensen also alleges that Andrews failed to meet her obligation as moderator
by not upholding a standing rule of the General Assembly that requires a
moderator to "present, strengthen and encourage the church, its people and
its work."

Gunn, the presbytery general executive, said National Capital Presbytery
takes all such allegations seriously. If the presbytery receives the case
from Jensen, he said, "We will put together an investigating committee and it
will proceed to do its work confidentially. It won't be done in the public

Disciplinary cases within the PC(USA) are confidential unless an
investigating committee determines that there is enough evidence to warrant
the filing of formal charges. Even in that case, information is shared
discreetly with sessions and committees on ministry.

The outcome of a case is made public only if the accused is found guilty of
the charges.

Jensen has routinely shared all his accusations with the media.

In this case, he has taken the unusual step of asking National Capital
Presbytery to recuse itself from the case and to defer original jurisdiction
to the Synod of the Mid-Atlantic. He said the members of the presbytery's
Permanent Judicial Commission (PJC) have "some personal knowledge relevant to
the disposition of this matter."

Jensen filed charges earlier against the Rev. Eric Scott Winnette, the
associate pastor of Bradley Hills Presbyterian, but a presbytery
investigating committee dismissed the case and its PJC denied an appeal.

Winnette spoke about his homosexuality during a "speak out" session at an
earlier General Assembly. Jensen filed similar accusations against several
other speakers.

Before releasing a formal statement (See story, "Moderator responds"),
Andrews said in an interview that Jensen made factual errors in his release.
She said she will cooperate fully with any judicial process the presbytery or
synod undertakes.

The Rev. Cliff Kirkpatrick, the Assembly's stated clerk, issued a statement
in which he said that the Book of Order makes clear that the purposes of
church discipline are "restoration and renewal and that such cases are to be
handled with great sensitivity to all parties concerned."  (See story,
"Stated clerk issues statement.")

The Office of the General Assembly (OGA) described the process for
investigating an allegation this way: When a presbytery's stated clerk
receives an accusation, the presbytery names an investigating committee of
three to five members, which interviews the plaintiff and defendant, gathers
evidence and determines whether there is enough evidence to warrant the
filing of formal charges. If the panel decides there is sufficient evidence,
the case moves to trial.

The Rev. Mark Tammen, a spokesperson for the OGA, said there is no precedent
for a presbytery recusal from a disciplinary case.

Efforts to reach Jensen yesterday were unsuccessful.


Today I received from Mr. Paul Rolf Jensen a copy of a press release
indicating that he is filing a disciplinary accusation against me, charging
that my support of the associate pastor who serves with me on the pastoral
staff at Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church amounts to misconduct.

The facts of the case on which Mr. Jensen is basing his accusations are
matters of public record in National Capital Presbytery, where my membership
resides. He has included several factual errors that I am confident will be
found to be false upon further investigation.

I am saddened that Mr. Jensen has felt it necessary to deal at the General
Assembly level with what is really a presbytery issue. I hope and pray that
this will not distract commissioners and advisory delegates from the real
issues and important business before this Assembly.

I will cooperate fully with any judicial process initiated by National
Capital Presbytery because I want to honor our denomination's constitution -
as I promised to do in my ordination vows.

I am deeply grateful to my colleague, the Rev. Scott Winnette, who together
with the session of Bradley Hills Church has served that congregation with
faithfulness and dedication during my year as moderator.


The Stated Clerk of the General Assembly was saddened to learn that Mr. Paul
Rolf Jensen had chosen the occasion of the farewell report to and recognition
by the 216th General Assembly today of the Rev. Susan R. Andrews, Moderator
of the 215th (2003) General Assembly, to issue a press release regarding the
Moderator's participation in the installation and subsequent support of her
associate pastor.

The Book of Order is clear that the purposes of church discipline are
restoration and renewal, and that such cases are to be handled with great
sensitivity to all parties concerned.

The process for handing allegations against ministers is clear in our Rules
of Discipline:

D-10.0102a	An accusation is received by the stated clerk of a presbytery
from a member of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

D-10.0103	Once received by the stated clerk of a presbytery, the clerk
invokes whatever process the presbytery has provided to create an
investigating committee. The stated clerk then forwards the accusation to the
investigating committee.

D-10.0201	The investigating committee is to be made up of three to five
persons (elders and ministers) who will investigate the allegations.

The Association of Stated Clerks has published a judicial process manual that
provides detailed advice and assistance in carrying out this process.

This story and many others may have photos, media, video clips that can be
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