May 27, 2003
The Confederation of Reformed Evangelicals
C/o Brett Baker, Moderator
P.O. Box 1158
Woodinville, WA 98072-1158
Our attention was recently brought to the minutes of your 2002 meeting as they appear on your website. In those minutes is a false report from Christ Church, Moscow, concerning their controversy with Christ Presbyterian Church, Salt Lake City, and, the Presbytery of the Dakotas (OPC). There are several misrepresentations, but the most serious is that, “some time after [Mr. Maneri] left, charges were brought against him in the OPC.”
We have attached the text of the correspondence between our churches. As you can see, we have repeatedly told the elders in Moscow that Mr. Maneri was charged individually and before witnesses while a member and an elder. Mr. Maneri had attended worship on the previous Sunday and was leading a meeting of the pulpit committee when he was charged before witnesses. After being charged, but before a trial could commence, Mr. Maneri resigned his office and asked that his name be erased from the rolls of the church. The Book of Church Order he vowed to receive does not allow a resignation to automatically stop a discipline case. We went forward with a trial to protect the church and in hope of restoring our brother.
When Mr. Maneri was publicly circulating advice from Doug Wilson not to appear at his trial, we contacted Mr. Wilson and then his session. Our hope was that their goals would be the same as ours. As you can see in the attached correspondence, our complaints have been met with sophistry and word games that should be an embarrassment for elders of a Church of Christ. Our goals in all of this have been to shepherd the Church of Jesus Christ and to restore a brother whom we love. We have continued to pray for him with tears, even after his excommunication. It is our hope that despite the interference of Mr. Wilson and the Moscow session that he will yet be restored.
We ask that you read the attached correspondence and remember that no one on our session had previously communicated with Mr. Wilson. A friend of Mr. Wilson was accused of grave sin. Mr. Wilson made no attempt to determine the facts of the case from us before advising him not to attend his trial. When we challenged that advice, we were told that we would have to prove that we had risen above the contemporary Reformed norm” before Mr. Wilson would reconsider his advice. We do not accept that our discipline should be presumed defective. It is up to Moscow to demonstrate its illegitimacy before they counsel our members to reject it. We understand that at the time, Moscow had the same provisions against unilateral resignation. How can Doug Jones state in a recent letter to the Moscow church that “in the covenant bond of membership, both sides are obligated to agree to severing membership covenants,” but then portray us as disciplining a “nonmember”?
We have been told that we have no standing to appeal to your court, but we ask that you remove this false report from your website. We send this directly to you, because you are perpetuating a false report. We do not believe we can do anything more to prevent Moscow’s misrepresentations, but we ask that you not join them. We would be happy to detail the other errors, if you would like. Though we have no official standing before you, we do implore you as Christian brothers to deal with the larger situation. We do not believe that you would want us treating your churches as Doug Wilson and the Moscow session have treated us.
Lou LaBriola, Clerk of Session