Rev. Janet Edwards officiated at a lesbian wedding in order to provoke a trial. At the trial she hired busses to bring in supporters, got other famous provokers to come, and sent out invitations.
This week, the Permanent Judicial Commission of Pittsburgh Presbytery ruled that the charges had been filed four days too late, so the case could not be heard.
I don't know who screwed up. Jim Mead, the presbytery executive, laments the mess. He is right that the PJC acted properly, given the case that had been handed to them. And he praises the "hard work and best intentions of the fine people on the Investigative Committee." Without evidence that the investigating committee deliberately sabotaged the case, we ought to assume that it was an honest mistake on their part.
Still, this is not the first time that the church has been cheated of a clear decision on whether its official standards on homosexual practice are real or not. A few years ago there was the notorious case of the gay elder in First Presbyterian Church, Stamford Connecticut. It took so long to reach a decision that the elder's term ran out, and the case was declared moot.
The left and the right of the church are mobilized all the time, and often suspicious of the church's order. The loyalist center, on the other hand, is slow to mobilize and is trusting of the denomination's basic institutions. There is one good way, though, to rouse the ire of the loyalist center: to manipulate the church's rules and procedures in an indecent and disorderly way to sneak in one outcome or another.
Let us hope that the remaining high-profile cases are handled scrupulously.