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Civil or Ecclesiastical court?

 
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Post Civil or Ecclesiastical court? Mat
Lee University and influence of LBGTQ... - I have been reading the Facebook posts regarding this issue, and I have heard of there being some consideration of a action from some of the Lee staff/faculty, or even the university.

Would this be a Civil Court suit, or is it under some kind of "Ecclesiastical Court" within the COG structure?

I'm am not current on COG polity, but there is a history of engaging in both types of courts.

When it comes to Civil Court, the COG has shown no hesitation to take fellow Christians before a judge based on I Corinthians 6:1, especially if property is involved.

Likewise, there is a history of questioning an person's character in the process of legal actions.

Maybe this is just another very public chapter in COG legal history?

Mat

PS I fellowship with an independent pastor who was COG, as was his parents before him. From the court records I have read, the local COG he was pastoring did not like all the Latino/Hispanics (and other races) he was winning and adding to the local church. The white members wanted him out, they got the overseer to force him out, he left without the building but with most of the congregation, and still got sued.
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10/15/21 8:12 am


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Post Action? sadlytrue77
Are you saying that the university is going to go after ministers that have been speaking up about Lee

What for?
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10/15/21 4:49 pm


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Post Sadlytrue77 Mat
Check the first post on the "Letter from Lee University" topic/thread.

Mat
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10/15/21 6:27 pm


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Post sadlytrue77
I still dont know what Lee would be going after anyone for. Lee saying something aint true don't mean it is a lie. They are gonna protect they own selves. I talked to my son cause I dont have facebook. From what he said sounds like alot has been said that Lee dont like but probably not because its a lie. Probably because its true.
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10/15/21 9:21 pm


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Post Inflammatory Words Mat
There were some inflammatory words written, but as far as I can tell, no one has lost their positions, yet, or suffered harm. Reputation is a difficult thing to sue over, if it were easy we pastors could sue some members and leaders over them expressing opinions about our ministry. Especially if it led to us being removed from a local church.

Underlying all of this, at least from my observation, is there is a concern among pastors that Lee is some how going to go down the same road of secularization as many great historic Christian Colleges/Universities have. It is a cultural battle pastors are facing in their churches and they want both the denomination and its institutions to stand behind them.

From the university's view point, there is the issue of academic freedom to explore other view points, even those not in line with the denomination (can you have a discussion on what the COG believes, or is it a "take-it-or-leave it" kind of school?) Likewise, I do think they see the "diverse" student body as a mission field and an opportunity to expand the reach of the ministry.

There are egos involved, perhaps even some positions as well (don't forget about the voting at the assembly). The pastors see themselves not only as the front line warriors on the field, but the primary support of the denomination. Educators see themselves as shaping the next generation of leadership for the denomination and having greater insight how to equip. Both pastors and educators feel they should be heard and their voice valued.

My opinion as an outsider who has a generational relationship with the COG, now that the issue "boiled-over" on social media, its time to let the top leaders handle the conflict. Both pastor and educator alike need to do some personal (and quiet) introspection (after all, only Jesus is the Savior and Head of the Church). Or you can keep at it, see opinions harden on both sides, and end up losing some great leaders and teachers, as well as local churches.

Mat
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10/16/21 7:58 am


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Post sadlytrue77
As long as one of them top leaders is the one that got our school in this mess we would are not going to see any change. they put the new guy there and most of us thought things would change but it dont seem like it.
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10/16/21 1:43 pm


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Post Re: Inflammatory Words MrSippi
Mat wrote:
There were some inflammatory words written, but as far as I can tell, no one has lost their positions, yet, or suffered harm. Reputation is a difficult thing to sue over, if it were easy we pastors could sue some members and leaders over them expressing opinions about our ministry. Especially if it led to us being removed from a local church.

Underlying all of this, at least from my observation, is there is a concern among pastors that Lee is some how going to go down the same road of secularization as many great historic Christian Colleges/Universities have. It is a cultural battle pastors are facing in their churches and they want both the denomination and its institutions to stand behind them.

From the university's view point, there is the issue of academic freedom to explore other view points, even those not in line with the denomination (can you have a discussion on what the COG believes, or is it a "take-it-or-leave it" kind of school?) Likewise, I do think they see the "diverse" student body as a mission field and an opportunity to expand the reach of the ministry.

There are egos involved, perhaps even some positions as well (don't forget about the voting at the assembly). The pastors see themselves not only as the front line warriors on the field, but the primary support of the denomination. Educators see themselves as shaping the next generation of leadership for the denomination and having greater insight how to equip. Both pastors and educators feel they should be heard and their voice valued.

My opinion as an outsider who has a generational relationship with the COG, now that the issue "boiled-over" on social media, its time to let the top leaders handle the conflict. Both pastor and educator alike need to do some personal (and quiet) introspection (after all, only Jesus is the Savior and Head of the Church). Or you can keep at it, see opinions harden on both sides, and end up losing some great leaders and teachers, as well as local churches.

Mat


The boldest statement made on the issue was from Tim Hill. Apparently, the Executive Council is addressing the issue and refused to distribute the aforementioned letter as requested by Mark Walker. Mark Walker chose to unilaterally distribute the letter to "Friends of Lee" anyway. Are you saying that Lee is planning to sue the General Overseer?
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10/16/21 9:14 pm


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Post No Mat
No - I don't know about to whom or how the "letter" was dissimulated, or what, if any position the leadership of the COG had towards it.

The issue of lawsuits over defamatory statements on social media, which may rise to the level of libel of certain staff or faculty at Lee U, was being discussed prior to the release of the "letter" now in question. Any possible suit would be by the individual who felt defamed and the individual who wrote the the statements, and perhaps the those responsible for the platform (in this case those who run the Facebook page). However, bring a lawsuit is much easier than winning a libel verdict.

I'm not sure a COG institution could sue the COG denomination or its leaders, though there is a history of the COG suing individuals in civil court. Now if someone was removed from their employment over all this, maybe wrongful termination could be considered, but even then, it would be upHill.

There is one other Judgement we as Christians should consider, and false statements of either the living or the dead will be on the docket.

Mat
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10/17/21 8:22 am


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Post sadlytrue77
A lawsuit requires soemthing to be false. and on top of that they gotta prove malice or intent to damage. There is no court in the land that would let that suit stand up. And I cannot imagine nobody over at lee wants to talk about this stuff in open court. They would lose the case and have the truth come out all at the same time.
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10/17/21 4:23 pm


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Post Maybe, maybe not .. Mat
sadlytrue77 wrote:
A lawsuit requires something to be false. and on top of that they gotta prove malice or intent to damage. There is no court in the land that would let that suit stand up. And I cannot imagine nobody over at lee wants to talk about this stuff in open court. They would lose the case and have the truth come out all at the same time.


When it comes to people feeling they have been done wrong, turning to the civil courts for redress is more common then not. So maybe, maybe not, depending on if someone feels their "reputation" was damaged and lost of their employment was unjust. Then again, a student at Lee who is part of the LBGTQ... "community" might feel their civil rights were violated by the university and sue. Or, if a disgruntled former employee or student publishes something the denomination/university perceives to be damaging and untrue, they could sue.

Yes, a lawsuit has to go before a judge to see if it has merit, but I'm sure there are lawyers who would gladly take their money to file suit. Again, we can not overlook the long history of court cases and lawsuits in the Pentecostal Movement in general and the Church of God in particular. The looming concern is if all these public back and forth gets the attention of the Civil Rights division of the Justice Department. Right now I think Lee/COG would not fair well with the current administration.

You got to ask yourself a question, what would you do if your church publicly accused you of stealing money and removed you without recourse? Would you apply I Corinthians 6: 1, or would you take them to court (and be tempted to pray for the death of their first born)?

We will see what happens.

Mat
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10/18/21 7:30 am


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Post Re: Maybe, maybe not .. MrSippi
Mat wrote:
sadlytrue77 wrote:
A lawsuit requires something to be false. and on top of that they gotta prove malice or intent to damage. There is no court in the land that would let that suit stand up. And I cannot imagine nobody over at lee wants to talk about this stuff in open court. They would lose the case and have the truth come out all at the same time.


When it comes to people feeling they have been done wrong, turning to the civil courts for redress is more common then not. So maybe, maybe not, depending on if someone feels their "reputation" was damaged and lost of their employment was unjust. Then again, a student at Lee who is part of the LBGTQ... "community" might feel their civil rights were violated by the university and sue. Or, if a disgruntled former employee or student publishes something the denomination/university perceives to be damaging and untrue, they could sue.

Yes, a lawsuit has to go before a judge to see if it has merit, but I'm sure there are lawyers who would gladly take their money to file suit. Again, we can not overlook the long history of court cases and lawsuits in the Pentecostal Movement in general and the Church of God in particular. The looming concern is if all these public back and forth gets the attention of the Civil Rights division of the Justice Department. Right now I think Lee/COG would not fair well with the current administration.

You got to ask yourself a question, what would you do if your church publicly accused you of stealing money and removed you without recourse? Would you apply I Corinthians 6: 1, or would you take them to court (and be tempted to pray for the death of their first born)?

We will see what happens.

Mat


I have closely followed the FB posts and I have not seen one person falsely attacked. Secondly, the pastors whom I have seen addressing this issue have a reputation for having integrity and backbones of steel. There are issues at Lee that everyone knows, but nobody has spoken about. I am very thankful that these men with some spiritual fortitude and a General Overseer with leadership abilities are standing strong for what what is right. I certainly do not see them being intimidated or threatened by someone's lawsuit threats.
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10/18/21 2:10 pm


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Post Re: Maybe, maybe not .. Mat
I'm not questioning the individuals involved, and I do agree the issues should first handled by the leadership. It has been interesting reading as we watch a Christian university struggle with a cultural change in our nation as we witness it in real time on social media. (Its like having a front row seat to history).

My question at the top was if there were a perceived issues with ministers who post on social media regarding Lee, would the redress be in Ecclesiastical Court within the COG structure or would there be grounds for a civil action? I'm not sure the COG still has their judicial structure or if is still in use.

Mat
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10/18/21 4:46 pm


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Post Link
This is a good argument against an independent joining the COG denomination.

I remember reading, probably as a teenager, about the lawsuit with Tomlinson and the COG denomination before his group came to be known as COGOP and thinking of I Corinthians 6 and how shameful it was to take such a matter to secular courts. IMO, it's bad practice. Paul was dealing with individuals, but he said it was better to suffer loss.

IMO, the denomination should give up all claims to church buildings. Has anyone ever tried to push this through at the GA? You'd think it's in most of the preacher's vested interests.

There is no evidence in scripture that the church in Jerusalem or Antioch owned any meeting places of other churches, either.
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10/26/21 8:35 am


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Post I have read ... Mat
Link wrote:
This is a good argument against an independent joining the COG denomination.

I remember reading, probably as a teenager, about the lawsuit with Tomlinson and the COG denomination before his group came to be known as COGOP and thinking of I Corinthians 6 and how shameful it was to take such a matter to secular courts. IMO, it's bad practice. Paul was dealing with individuals, but he said it was better to suffer loss.

IMO, the denomination should give up all claims to church buildings. Has anyone ever tried to push this through at the GA? You'd think it's in most of the preacher's vested interests.

There is no evidence in scripture that the church in Jerusalem or Antioch owned any meeting places of other churches, either.


I have read that early on Tomlinson suggested a settlement where the side that got the building would assume the debt and the other side would walk away from claims on the property. I think the court settled in must this way for the Elders.

The continuing lawsuits in civil court had to first due with funds the Elders felt Tomlinson missed used (and by implication profited from), and secondly the use of the name "The Church of God." Tomlinson was cleared of "profiting" from any church funds (I would argue he was due back pay and used to much of his own money to build "the GREAT Church of God").

The lawsuits regarding the name lasted until 1952, when the courts awarded the name to the elders and forced the "of Prophecy" (for business purposes) on Tomlinson's group. The name "Church of God" can be used by anyone in a religious, none business setting.

I felt Tomlinson should have first of all not given so much of his time and personal money to build the COG, rather he would have been better off building his on ministry. Yes, there came a time when the growth church and its institutions (Evangel, publishing house, orphanages, Bible School, etc) overwhelmed him, and when the income dropped and he was unwilling to let them close. Also, he did not make enough difference between his money and the churches, and his financial record keeping was weak, perhaps because he had too much to do.

Sometimes I feel he would have been better off staying in IN, then wasting his time and calling in the mountains and the south. However, what I really wish is that he had not been constrained by his belief in I Corinthians 6 early on, and got the best and meanest lawyer he could.

A lesson for any minister whose denomination or local church takes action against them. Never think those who oppose you have your best interest at heart.

Mat
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10/27/21 11:52 am


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