Phil Stogner Responds to Central Georgia

The Rev. Mr. Phil Stogner, Pastor of Park City (UT) Presbyterian Church, responded to Central Georgia Presbytery's questions addressed to him. Central Georgia had sought information regarding why Mr. Stogner reneged on the agreement he had made with the Presbytery to mentor Jason Wallace, who was ordained to plant a church in Provo, Utah.

In his letter, dated August 1998, Mr. Stogner writes:

Dear Sirs:

I did receive your communication of 7/18/98 and followed up by calling your stated clerk regarding the nature and purpose of your inquiry at this time. Mr. David was very kind in sharing that this was a personal resolution coming from the Reverend Roland Barnes but as to the exact purpose behind the resolution he did not know. I respect that as I too find myself at a loss to understanding any reason for pursuing something answered previously by the General Assembly.

I welcome any desire to further communication and indeed felt that Central Georgia was admonished to dialogue in the manner of Matthew 18:15 in their approach of issues and men. As of this date I have not heard a response from Mr. Jason Wallace and welcome an opportunity to answer any questions he may have in regard to my correspondence with him. I have never heard Mr. Wallace state any offense taken with my letter to him. I have heard that he took offense, but have not heard it from him. Why? My understanding of Matthew 18 is that Mr. Wallace and I need to resolve any alleged misunderstandings first. As of this date I am still waiting for Mr. Wallace to come to me the author that I may peacefully resolve any issue he may or may not have had with the letter that you refer to. To go into detail regarding a point by point explanation without Mr. Wallace's presence seems out of accord with Matthew 18 as some of your questions touch on character issues that only Mr. Wallace can properly address. I fear that I could easily misrepresent him.

At issue here is the manner in which we as believers are to resolve conflict. I appreciate your desire to "seek to communicate more clearly", I want this very much myself. If I have offended or sinned against Mr. Wallace then please encourage him to follow Matthew 18 and contact me that I may hear my brother. The missing steps that create a leap to grave misunderstandings are both divisive and disruptive to peace among the brethren. The missing step in our current dialogue is Mr. Wallace confronting me with the contents of the letter.

Finally, if I have offended or sinned against The Reverend Roland Barnes or any member of your Presbytery then please show me my sin that I might confess it and move on as your brother.

Your servant,

Phil [signed]

Toward the close of Central Georgia's October stated meeting, Roland Barnes, as a matter of personal privilege, addressed the court with regard to this matter. He said: "Mr. Stogner has done nothing to offend me personally. It seems to me that he still owes an explanation to Central Georgia Presbytery. I'm not sure we'll ever get it." Mr. Barnes then read a lengthy written response to Mr. Stogner's reply.