A couple weeks ago, those who pressed formal charges against Michael Spangler were approached by the committee that was formed in the Presbytery of the Southeast (PSE). They were asked to drop their charges against Spangler, because they had come up with their own charges. They believed their charges to be stronger, and it is apparently better for charges to come from his own presbytery (Yet, since this has been going on for years now, it seems there was plenty of time for action from Spangler’s presbytery). What event led to such strong action from the PSE all of the sudden? Michael Spangler and Shane Anderson had just written and distributed a letter to the congregation of their church, where they disparage their own presbytery. Now that the men in power have been derided, action must be taken. And now it is not good enough that the people who originally cared—about the victims of Genevan Commons, etc., and the actions of these church officers in their denomination—to continue with their charges that were already set in motion. They needed to step down and let the PSE handle it. The first meeting of the trial for these new charges against Spangler was on Friday, December 4th.
Maybe you can imagine how I felt to hear this new development. After the special committee report and the events of the last PSE meeting, it’s a terrible position to have to be in. The same people who clobbered me now want to sweep in and be the heroes. They don’t do this foremost because of how Spangler treated women both inside and outside of their denomination, but after he is disobedient to them, the important people. They pressed three charges. The order of the charges spoke again, showing me the order of what they value. Charge #1 is for “sowing discord in the church by publicly disparaging the governance of the Presbytery that has jurisdiction over both himself and the congregation, which seriously disturbs the peace, purity, and unity of the church…” Disparaging them. This charge was heartily passed at the first meeting.
Charge 2 limits the names of those Spangler publicly reviled to me and Rachel Miller. Valerie Hobbs, one they have targeted relentlessly from the beginning, was erased. Hey, she’s not in the OPC anymore, so what does it matter…What message does this send? Is it ok for Spangler & Co. to revile the number of others who are not in our denomination? I mentioned before how reductive it is to go through this process and see how the charges are parsed anyway, as it is so reductive to our whole experience. And it’s the minimum of what needs to be done. I’ve mentioned how the process itself hurts the very people it is set up to protect. And how this is something that needs more discussion in our churches. “This is where the leadership in the churches should consult the people in the margins, as those who are leading the process can gain perspective to better care for the sheep.”
The process doesn’t address the plot: the infected system that has enabled spiritual abuse.
They can’t address what all the dotted “i’s” and crossed “t’s” in their process symbolize—dehumanized, broken women. Why? Because they don’t see it.
And so this second charge passes, with merely one specification, focused on the language of two words in a whole five part series of reviling articles—“ravenous wolves.” So three years of public, published and preached reviling is reduced to two words. There was an attempt for several amendments by another member of the PSE for additional quotes from Spangler’s writing, and they were all soundly defeated. This is it. Two words.
The third charge was for hating his neighbor, as Spangler preached an entire sermon, as a pulpit supply, on God’s “Perfect Hatred.” It’s deplorable. This charge was thrown out for being too vague. And there goes the sermon as evidence, where Spangler preaches about God’s perfect hatred of feminism, a charge which he has named me as the “first in prominence” as a “general of today’s feminist army” in the OPC in his 5 part series. The message is loud and clear. God hates Aimee Byrd, and the other generals in the “army” named: Rachel Miller and Valerie Hobbs. Poof, thrown out.
Furthermore, since the hate sermon was thrown out of evidence, the motion to forbid him to exercise the functions of his office during the time of the trial was defeated. Keep on preaching your hate sermons, Spangler, like the one titled “A Quarrelsome and Fretful Woman” that you publicly dedicated to Aimee Byrd, Rachel Miller, and Valerie Hobbs. Let’s keep this man preaching for the OPC.
Spangler had an opportunity to speak to the presbytery in terms of his “repentance.” Let’s see what he wished to confess. “I repeated the sin of Job, in that even with a perfect heart in a righteous cause, especially in private conversation I was too zealous to defend myself and my own name, to justify myself rather than God, and to promote my righteousness rather than confess my sinfulness. Related to this, I yielded to self-pity, which is very unbecoming to a man, a Christian, and a minister. When men spoke ill of me I ought to have more often simply said, like David with Shimei, ‘Let him curse, and rested in the Lord alone for vindication.’” What a righteous man with a perfect heart.
I don’t need to repeat myself. I have already written about this, asking who is valued in the OPC? Do I really need to write all the reasons this meeting is another example of missing the plot completely? It’s beneath my dignity. And yet I want to hold them to account. All this time I have continuously been told, “Aimee, trust the process. Let the church courts handle this.” This was public, formal action. The words of Diane Langberg ring loudly in my ears:
“Our responses to the vulnerable expose who we are.”
Who are we, OPC? Who do we care about? Where is Christ in this?