"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Grace Grieving 5: Two lists

     The Executive Board of Elders (EBOE) has a list of the members of our church. It's the list they used to determine who could vote on February 5. We didn't know there was a list. We have never laid eyes on it and do not know anyone else who has, other than the executive elders. 
     We are baffled by the criteria used to create this list. It doesn't follow the rules of  Membership and Dismissal in the bylaws. It eliminates an unknown number of people who, according to the bylaws, qualify as members. (People once accepted into membership who have neither requested to be removed from membership nor been removed after a specific disciplinary process, are still members.)* 
     It is not derived from the current church directory, which lists any members and attenders who want to be included in it without distinguishing between them. 
      According to what seemingly arbitrary criteria were some members included and others excluded? Is it age? Some older members who attend and give regularly were excluded. Is it race? Sam and Ruth Sebabi, point persons for our ministry to The Ugandan Lambs, AIDS orphans in Africa, did not make the cut. If they excluded those they consider their enemies, those who have openly questioned their motives and actions, why were one couple who have been openly critical of the EBOE excluded but not John Anderson and his wife--or us?    
     Shirley Haralson (see last post) was told members can be dismissed for "not attending for a period of time," which is true. But the only ways they can be dismissed are by their requesting it or being taken through church discipline and notified of their dismissal--NOT, as Shirley was told, "be mentioned at a board of Elders meeting" at which elders "vote to remove the name."
     If the EBOE has been dismissing members in this unauthorized way, they have not been notifying members of their changed status. To our knowledge no person thus "dis-membered" ever knew about it until they were denied the right to vote on February 5.

     The other list is the list signed by those, like Shirley, who were told they were not members and were denied the right to vote.  Actually it is just a partial list because it does not include those who, though denied the right to vote, were not told about the list and therefore could not sign it.
    This (second) list disappeared sometime during or following the business meeting on February 5. To date, the EBOE has not released either the number or the names of those people. I imagine if they did anything with those names, they just compared them to their first list and confirmed, "Yup, their names aren't on it." As far as we know, the EBOE has made no attempt to address these people's grievances, nor to give any legitimate members on the list a chance to vote after the fact, nor have they declared the vote invalid because those members were wrongfully excluded. 
     Yet according to Robert's Rules of Orders, because members were kept from voting, the vote was invalid.  
     John Anderson, the church member and attorney who kept the meeting honest by insisting on adherence to the church bylaws and to Robert's Rules of Order, points out, "Robert's Rules governs our meetings in any area not covered by the bylaws.  Section 23 of Roberts Rules covers Points of Order and the effect of not allowing a person who is qualified the right to vote.  At any time this can be brought up but it only affects the outcome if the vote would change the total vote.  However, if the Point of Order is timely made (I made it timely) the entire vote is void.  Therefore, if anyone wants to raise this point, the meeting is a nullity."
     Jerry and I hereby raise this point and call the EBOE's attention to the fact that the entire vote is nullified by the fact that some qualified persons were denied the right to vote.

*Our church bylaws list five reasons a member can be dismissed from membership:
     --Persistent engagement in sinful practices without repentance.
     --Denial of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ either as the Son of God or as personal Savior.
     --Failure to agree with the Statement of Faith as set forth in Article II. [Ironically, this applies to many of the members of the EBOE.]
     --Advocation or propagation of any belief contrary to the Statement of Faith as set forth in Article II or the additional theological positions as set forth in the Article III.
     --Prolonged lack of interest or inexcusable failure to attend the services of this church.

     For each of these five reasons the bylaws allow only three methods by which membership can be revoked: 
     --A Member may withdraw his/her membership by submitting a written request to the Executive Board of Elders. 
     --A member may request a transfer of his/her membership to another church by submitting a written request to the Executive Board of Elders.
     --In a manner consistent with Matthew 18:15-17, Galatians 6:1, and Hebrews 10:24-25, a Member may be dismissed and his/her name removed from the membership roll of this church. The procedure will be consistent with Matthew 18:15-20 and as explained in the Manual of Guidelines and Procedures [hereafter referred to as the "Manual"]." (Note: We could not find anything in the Manual explaining or even referring to dismissing a church member.)

1 comment:

  1. Jessica, You make a good point here, but I wanted to give you the math I worked out. I understand the the vote may have been voided by the premise, but it would have required at least 58 additional voters who voted against the lowest-scoring elder (76%) to bring him below the 66.66% threshold for removal. If you think they denied 58 "No" voters their right, I'd keep contesting it, but if the number is smaller than that, I don't think it's worth contesting due to the fact that the final outcome would not have been impacted. I am guessing you'll probably say that it's really about how the procedure was handled, but I'm just talking about whether or not the group unable to vote would have made enough of a difference to impact the outcome. I actually voted against the SOF, and against several elders, but I wanted to do the math to see if those not allowed (who wanted) to vote had been allowed, would it have made a difference, and I can reasonably conclude that it would not have impacted the outcome, because I think it was less than 20 people, but I could be wrong. God bless.