Home > Testimonials > Unfair Hearing - Letter to Gerson Santos >
Progress of Appeal - Jan. 2014 (3,000)
Appeal for Reinstatement of Membership 
Summary  of  Progress
as of January 2014
   I was baptized into membership of Manhattan Seventh-day Adventist Church on March 6, 1988, and after 25 years of membership I was disfellowshipped on Aug. 3, 2013
  The Church Manual defines a 'due process' and procedures by which discipline is administered by the church and it defines rights of members so that a member can have opportunity to defend themself and a right to appeal for reinstatement if they feel that they were treated unfairly,
  I sent a letter to Gerson Santos, Executive Secretary of Greater New York Conference informing him of my intention to appeal and describing the unfair practices by the church at the business meeting where I was removed from membership.   Reply from Gerson Santos - Aug. 12, 2013
Right of Appeal for Reinstatement 
“While it is the right of the church to administer discipline, this does not set aside the rights of members to seek fairness. If members believe that they have been treated unfairly by the local church, or not had the right to be heard fairly, and the church is unwilling to reconsider the case or if the officers refuse to consider their applications for reinstatement, the former members have a right to appeal in writing to the church for a hearing. The church should not neglect or refuse to grant such hearings. If it does, or if the former members still feel unfairly treated by the church after the appeal, they have the right to a final appeal for a hearing to the executive committee of the conference. If, after a full and impartial hearing, the conference committee is satisfied that an injustice has been inflicted by the church, the committee may recommend reinstatement to membership. But if membership is still refused by the church, then the conference committee may recommend membership in some other church. On the other hand, if it finds good grounds for sustaining the church in refusing to reinstate the former members, it will so record its decision.”
 Church Manual, page 67
I am at the step in the appeal process where I write a written appeal to the church for another hearing. The key question is What will be the charge considered at the new hearing. Normally it is an easy question, however in this case the church board changed the charge without resetting the clock that says the member must be given two weeks notice. This is a question of 'due process' rather than misconduct and needs to be answered before the new hearning.
The first charge was received on July 17th which gives the required two weeks notice, the new charge was mailed on July 30th and received just three days before the Aug. 3rd business meeting where the matter was heard by the congregation.  Click here to see both notices
This brings us to the first interesting aspect of this case.
The Conference President sent a representative to the business meeting, and the church board invited him to chair the portion of the business meeting which heard the disciplinary matter. He made several errors, I believe some errors could have been avoided if he spoke to the accused to understand both sides of the story. But he did not, in fact, the church board or the pastor never spoke to the accused about the first charge or the second charge. So what does it mean for a Conference President to send a representative to a church business meeting? Does it mean the same as if the Conference President was there at the meeting himself?  If violations of the church manual and procedural errors were made by the representative, is it the same as if the Conference President had made these mistakes himself? It was not my desire for the Greater New York Conference leaders to be held accoutable, I just asked the conference to correct the mistakes made by the representative sent to the business meeting by the Conference President, so that the same mistakes would not be made again by the congregation whose judgment was impaired by what the representative did and said. 
However, the conference would not correct any errors or even admit any errors were made, and refused to talk about it further. So I brought just the one key question to the Union Conference level. What is the charge that should be considered at the appeal. See letter to Atlantic Union Conference.
The Union Conference decided to Blacklist me (block my e-mails to anyone working at the Union Conference office) and also to ignore about forty phone calls, so I asked concerned Adventists to contact Don King about this question.  Appeal for help on Sept. 8th - - Appeal for help on Sept. 17.  When the Union Conferene leaders still ignored my phone calls and the efforts from concerned Adventists, I wrote to Dan Jackson, President of the North American Division, asking him the same question. What charge should be considered at the appeal. See letter to Dan Jackson.
Neither Dan Jackson or Alex Bryant responded to this message, so I decided to contact the members of the NAD Executive Committee and ask them to get this matter considered at the Year End Meeting from Oct. 31st through Nov. 5th and I sent this message to 175 members of the Executive Committee.
I received ten replies, but none of them answered the question, What charge should be considered at the appeal?  Here are two of the responses. Reply from member who gave permission to quote him and give his name. Reply from another member who did not give permission to give his name. 
I showed these two responses to Gerson Santos on Nov. 23rd, I explained that my experience with the NAD leaders raised a new question. Concerning "the right to seek fairness" found in the church manual text quoted above; what does it mean? The NAD leaders who did reply, did not acknowledge that this right allowed me to bring my request to the NAD level. However, my letter to Gerson Santos gave him a much easier question to answer. I repeated the question I asked him in August;  What charge should be considered at the appeal? Click here to read the message to Gerson Santos.
This message explained the importance of me getting a leader at the conference like him, or someone at a higher level to clarify what charge should be considered. This would counter the damage done to the members of Manhattan Church who got the impression that the disciplinary hearing was conducted properly from the person representing the conference president.
Gerson Santos has not responded for two weeks, but a new opportunity presented itself. Mark Finley and Ted Wilson will be coming to New York City on Dec. 13th and 14th for a special NY13 event. See details and Ted Wilson will attend Manhattan Church and give the sermon on Dec. 14th. I believe that "the right so seek fairness" allows me to approach him.  I know concerned Adventists who are interested in his response to my request to meet with him briefly, or for him to give me an answer to the question: What charge should be considered at the appeal?
The church manual is very clear on the subject of due process.
Fundamental  Rights  of  the  Members 

Members have a fundamental right to prior notification of the disciplinary meeting and the right to be heard in their own defense, introduce evidence, and produce witnesses. No church should vote to remove a member under circumstances that deprive the member of these rights. Written notice must be given at least two weeks before the meeting and include the reasons for the disciplinary hearing.
        Church Manual, page 64
However, the next interesting aspect of this case is that the Church Manual is not clear on what "the right to seek fairness" actually means. Since this right was added to the church manual at the 59th GC Session in 2010, there should be some church leaders who wanted to understand what it means before they voted for it. I hope that Ted Wilson will see this as a valid question and give me an answer, so far he has not responded.  In January I sent a letter to Executive Secretary of Atlantic Union Conference, with an appeal for fairness. I present arguments that the Church Manual did give me the right to see fairness from him, see the on-line version of my letter to him. 
Anyone who wants to comment, please contact me through this website's Contact Us page 
God Bless



Additional links on this topic: