Aimee Byrd

Inside the word. Outside the box.

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?

24 thoughts on “Missing the Plot: An Update on the Presbytery of the Southeast

  1. Suzanne says:

    Reblogged this on The View From the Sidelines and commented:
    An update from Aimee

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  2. Sam Powell says:

    Absolutely despicable, Aimee. There is no fear of God in their eyes.
    I’m so sorry for all who remain in the path of their destructive and hateful words and actions and I pray that the GA will hear it.
    This is the greatest danger in the church today.

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  3. Cynthia W. says:

    He doesn’t hate women who disagree with him: he just knows that God hates them. Good gravy!

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  4. Cal Boroughs says:

    Good grief! This is deplorable.

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  5. fmavolio says:

    I am saddened and disgusted to read this. I have heard “Trust the process,” before. No. Trust the Sovereign One who says, “I will repay.”

    “Be strong and courageous,” Aimee. “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. For the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”

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  6. Donna Westcott says:

    The most basic, fundamental, elementary principle of responsible and effective communication is: stick to one subject at a time.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jeff says:

    Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. It is so sad to see how quickly these posts come about after our presbytery meeting. And in my view twists facts. Those of you who commented, surely it would be good to gather information from both sides before agreeing with this post. For a “long time” I’ve enjoyed Aimee’s time on MoS, I’ve purchased her earlier books (didn’t get a chance to read them, just put them in the stack of books to read), etc. But, every time read something new on this blog dealing with our presbytery, etc., I shake my head in disbelief. I didn’t attend this last presbytery meeting, but I know enough about the events beforehand that what I have read, just the first couple of lines of this post, keep me SHM. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

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    1. Cynthia W. says:

      “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet,” says a post on the internet.

      The “We Cretans are all liars” Paradox, the rhetorical equivalent of dividing by zero.

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      1. Jeff D. says:

        So, my comment is twisted to mean that nothing on the internet is with reading. Okay! Have good.

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      2. Cynthia W. says:

        Mr. D., do you have a point other than, “Believe me and my detail-free remarks instead of Mrs. Byrd’s article, simply on my say-so.”?

        If so, maybe you could offer some detail that would cause a reasonable reader to rate your commentary as more persuasive than hers.

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    2. Okay, Jeff! Correct it. Where’s Aimee wrong? Provide the full details. You can’t come on here complaining that Aimee twisted things without explaining how. Put your cards on the table!

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      1. Jeff D. says:

        I have no interest in “providing full details” of these things online. This place (online) is not where this stuff should be done. I don’t even have the “full details” (whatever that means). I’m not on the committee. I am a member of the presbytery. I was there at the Oct. meeting. I did miss the meeting addressed in the OP. But, I did receive all correspondence from our presbytery that was sent out beforehand. Which, after reading this, left me SMH. I can draw my own conclusions from what I’ve seen so far. What I’ve witnessed at presbytery and what I’ve witnessed in Mrs. Byrd’s recent posts about our presbytery. And my conclusion is, don’t believe everything that you read online. That’s all.

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    3. muzjik says:

      You didn’t attend the meeting but can advise “don’t believe” those who did?

      I hate to have to ask this but….does your knowledge of “events beforehand” come from friendship with any of the men involved?
      What is your opinion of Michael Spangler’s “confession of repentance”?

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      1. Jeff Downs says:

        I am a minister in the same presbytery; that’s where my knowledge of these events come from. Are you saying Aimee attended the meeting?
        If not, then her knowledge is second-hand.
        Of course I’m friends with the men involved, I’m in the same presbytery. Don’t read to much into that last statement.
        I don’t really have an opinion on Michael’s confession at this point, I didn’t even read it until you pointed it out. As I mention in my originally comment, I couldn’t get past the first couple of sentences without SMH.

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      2. muzjik says:

        Jeff – now that Spangler’s confession has been brought to your attention, doesn’t it make you, a minister, shake your head? Perhaps more than Aimee’s first few sentences? A perhaps also grieve a little?

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      3. Jeff D. says:

        muzjik, not sure why this will not let me reply under your last reply, but here is what you said, “Jeff – now that Spangler’s confession has been brought to your attention, doesn’t it make you, a minister, shake your head? Perhaps more than Aimee’s first few sentences? A perhaps also grieve a little?”

        I guess what you don’t realize is that I’ve ALWAYS (as much as I’ve known) shaken my head at how Michael has handled himself in this matter. I believe I have told him so.  I don’t know many men who do approve of how he has handled himself.

        Let me again reiterate something I said above, that blogs, etc. are not the place to handle these matters.  BTW: I’ve said that to Michael as well.  The court of public opinion is not the courts of the church.
        The men of Presbytery have done the right thing.  But most of what you read on this blog is: “bad presbytery”, etc.  That grieves me.  What I perceive as Aimee twisting things grieves me.  The way Michael has handled himself grieves me.  You know what doesn’t grieve me though, the way the committee and our presbytery has handled this matter.

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    4. Cynthia W. says:

      One doesn’t wish to seem to be beating a dead horse, but there still doesn’t seem to be any detailed information from Jeff Downs that would cause a reader to consider Jeff Downs, rather than Amy Byrd, to be an informed and trustworthy source. Having strongly implied that Amy Byrd’s relation is inaccurate – “And in my view twists facts.” – Mr. Downs has created the expectation that he will provide an “untwisted” version.

      Was this version provided?

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      1. Jeff D. says:

        I’m sorry you have an expectation that I’m going to give another version. All I’m saying is, don’t believe everything you read online. There is another side of the story, and that has taken place in the courts of the church, not online. Believe me, I wish I hadn’t said anything in the first place, But, it grieves me to read a bad report about our presbytery, some obviously twisted things, and then see other commenters receiving Aimee’s report as though it is the last word.

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      2. Cynthia W. says:

        I understand the most recent reply to mean that Mr. Jeff Downs is not going to provide any information to back up his accusation of “twisting.” He certainly has a right to make that decision.

        Merry Christmas to all!

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  8. joepote01 says:

    I am proud of you and thankful for your voice, Aimee!

    Praying for you and your family!

    Like

  9. Aimee, I’m thankful for your courage to be light in the darkness! I remember when I thought about attending a Presbyterian church because of the MoS podcast. It seems unsafe, especially if they allow men like those who have come against you to pastor and lead churches. I know there are good ones out there….I still have hope in that, but I cling to Jesus. I’m thankful for you, Diane Langberg, Laura Barringer, and Scot McKnight, Wade Mullen, and the others doing the work of bringing truth to light.

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  10. muzjik says:

    Gosh Aimee. Reading this just hurts my heart.

    4 years on, your article “The Silence of Our Friends” should still feel so fresh or immediate.
    I’m so sorry.

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  11. James Clark says:

    I am a minister in the OPC and member of the Presbytery of the Southeast. I was at this meeting. I can understand Aimee’s frustration, but I believe if she had been present at this meeting the process would have made more sense. Without calling anyone’s intentions into question, I must say that this article does not accurately represent what occurred at this meeting or the sentiments of the PSE.

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