Legal Proceedings Update
Legal Update 07/31/2012
The Indiana State Supreme court has ruled 3-2 in our favor, saying that their is no express trust between us and the PCUSA. For most churches in Indiana in our situation it is a very favorable ruling. The Indiana Supreme Court did remand our case back to ...the Vanderburgh Court (Judge Carl Heldt) to determine if the fact that our minutes and by-laws pledge to be subject to the Constitution of the PCUSA creates an implied trust in our situation. So there will be another trial (most likely by judge) in the local Vanderburgh Court in the months ahead. In the original trial in the local court the same judge ruled strongly in our favor. Again, we are grateful to God for every blessing and will praise Him no matter what the ultimate decision is. We know that the church is not the building, and only desire to honor Jesus Christ in our hearts our families, our church and our world!
Olivet appealed the Indiana Appellate court decision in February 2011. The Supreme Court justices granted transfer of our court case on Thursday, May 26. This action will begin the process of the Supreme Court issuing a decision for the legal ownership of Olivet’s building and property. This process can take from 6 to 18 months to complete. On September 1st, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguements on this case.
Indiana Appellate Court Decision, December 2010
On Tuesday, December 14, we received word from our lawyer that the Indiana Appellate Court decided against the Vanderburgh Circuit Court’s affirmation that Olivet should be the primary steward of our church property. By a unanimous vote of the congregation on December 23, Olivet decided to appeal the Appellate Court's decision to the Supreme Court of the State of Indiana. The Presbytery of the Ohio Valley has since briefed the court on why they feel the Appellate ruling was correct, and we have rebriefed the court on why we feel it is in error.
Currently we are in a 90-day period of time in which the Supreme Court is reviewing the case and deciding whether or not to take the case. Should they take up the case, all previous rulings will be vacated and we will await their decision. Should they decide not to take up the case, the Appellate ruling will stand.
Please continue to pray for Olivet’s leadership as we seek God’s direction as to our next step. We’re comforted to know that God is in control and that the Church is not a building. We continue to believe with you that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).
Continue to check this page for more information as it becomes available. All press and further inquiries can be directed to Rev. Dave Mills at email@example.com. To financially support Olivet’s legal defense, please contact the church office at 812-477-8863.
Vanderburgh Circuit Court Decision, March 2010
In July of 2006 the congregation of Olivet voted by a 98% margin to request to be dismissed from the Presbyterian Church (USA) to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church over increasing theological and polity concerns within the PC-USA. In December of 2006, the Presbytery of Ohio Valley (POV) refused to hear Olivet's motion for dismissal and instead unilaterally dismissed Olivet and its pastor and claimed ownership of the property. When Olivet refused to sign a lease agreement with the POV, the Presbytery sued.
In the case of the Presbytery of Ohio Valley vs. Olivet EPC, Indiana Judge Carl Heldt of the Vanderburgh Circuit Court rejected PC-USA claims to Olivet's property and ruled in Olivet's favor on every count in March of 2010. Olivet received notice that the POV filed an appeal, and the case moved into the Appellate Courts of the State of Indiana (see above).
Olivet recognizes that there is no provision in scripture for brothers to take one another to a civil court. Having been taken to court, we covet your prayers that we will humbly and honorably represent Jesus Christ, and that God will somehow "work for good" (Rom. 8:28) through this difficult situation.
To read the Indiana Appellate Court’s ruling, click here.
For a summary of the Vanderburgh Circuit Court's judgment, see this article written by Parker T. Williamson of The Layman.
To read the Vanderburgh Circuit Court Judge's ruling in full, click here.