Commentary: Evaluating the SJC Officers' Position

As noted in the news story above, there appear to be at least four factual errors in the statement of facts set forth by the SJC officers. Beyond the lack of factual foundation for their position, the SJC officers' ruling is questionable for other reasons as well.
The SJC Manual (12.2) deals with the review of a case by the officers to determine that case's judicial orderliness: "This review shall include: (1) that the case was timely filed as provided in BCO 42-3 and 43-2; (b) in the case of a complaint, that the complaint was first filed with the Court whose act or decision is alleged to be in error (BCO 43-2); (c) that a ground or reason has been specified as required by BCO 42-3 and 43-2; (d) that the parties have complied with the Rules of Discipline of the BCO and this Manual; (e) that the Record of the Case appears to be complete and sufficiently documented."
The only apparent provision by which a case of original jurisdiction could be judicially ruled out of order by the SJC officers, is the one which says that the parties have to have "complied with the Rules of Discipline of the BCO." However, that section could have relevance only if the court of original jurisdiction had not refused to act at the time when the other presbyteries petitioned for the Assembly to assume original jurisdiction (cf. BCO 34-1). Otherwise, it could not be said that those other presbyteries had not "complied" with the BCO. In the present case, Tennessee Valley Presbytery's action came three months after Ascension, Calvary, and Western Carolina had petitioned for original jurisdiction.
Moreover, that action had reference only with regard to the Cedar Springs Session, not with respect to Mr. Wood. Tennessee Valley has taken no action to clear Mr. Wood.
Apart from procedural matters, there are serious questions about the substantive objection raised by the SJC officers. In their ruling, they imply that the fact that the Session has responsibility over the worship of a congregation means that no proceedings can be brought against the pastor of the church. There are apparently at least two flaws in their reasoning.
First, according to people who have helped bring charges against Mr. Wood, he has been charged with regard to his theology, not simply with regard to the occasion. Secondly, the corporate responsibility of a Session cannot shield a pastor from having to assume personal culpability in a matter. To use an extreme example for the sake of illustration, suppose a homosexual filled the pulpit in a PCA church and the pastor was fully aware of, and supportive of, that action. The fact that the Session has responsibility for the conduct of public worship would not protect the minister from himself facing charges in the presbytery.