(Seventh in a series.)

It’s been seven weeks since G.R.A.C.E. released their Report documenting the betrayal of the souls of Tenth Presbyterian Church by their pastors and elders. This betrayal is most visible in the G.R.A.C.E. Report, starting with the facts they record concerning Sr. Minister Phil Ryken leading his elders to cover up the homoerotic assaults against young men committed by Tenth’s choir director, Paul Jones.

Ryken and his elders were informed of Jones’s crimes back in 2001.

It’s there in the Report, but it might be best not to read it. The Report is sordid, but the worst sins aren’t sexual. The most sordid parts are the records of the lies Ryken and his elders told to cover up sexual crimes.

G.R.A.C.E. released their Report November 23, 2023, and ten days later Tenth’s troubles intensified with the release of court documents revealing, first, that William (“Liam”) W. Goligher had been cited, pled guilty, and paid fines for engaging in unlawful conduct of an indecent nature in a park in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, just west of Philly. The citation’s file date was July 25, 2014, almost ten years ago.

After Goligher’s own behavior was first made public on November 29, 2023, the Session held a called virtual “meeting” on Friday afternoon, December 1, with Goligher moderating the online discussion. It was during this exchange Senior Minister Goligher adamantly denied  his behavior, but nonetheless abandoned his call.

For a short time Goligher did not know about the two court documents confirming his behavior, or that the identity of his partner would be discovered and released, publicly. For a few days, only his scandalous behavior was spoken of, publicly.

Goligher was therefore absent from his pulpit Sunday morning, December 3, 2023, although the identity of his adulteress had become known much earlier that same morning. The very next day, December 4, the court records of both Goligher and Mrs. Susan Elzey were distributed by email, text, and across the internet.

The above facts are the context for Goligher prevailing upon his elders to read this statement to the Tenth congregation Sunday morning, December 3, 2023:

Dear Ones:

Over the past few days terrible allegations have been raised against me on social media. I reject the interpretation that has been put on the facts. What they have insinuated never happened, though I take full responsibility for the actions that led to the outcome. However, once such accusations are made they develop a life of their own and no one will countenance them being challenged. The actual events leading to these allegations were entirely my fault and I take responsibility for my foolish behavior.

Years ago, I had an encounter with an officer, which ended in a citation for personal conduct. This involved failure to follow his instructions in a timely manner and arguing with him over his construction of events. In retrospect, I deeply regret not contesting the citation. Instead, I followed his advice and opted to pay a fine. By doing this, it was my understanding that I had admitted to the above actions but not to anything else.

I am devastated at the prospect of leaving you in this way. It has been the greatest joy of my life to worship with you and live life with you over these years. I love you desperately and don’t want you to have to endure the burden of these allegations and the interminable questions they will raise. I am totally responsible for the unconscionable foolishness that led us here. Christine and I will forever love you and thank God for you, our church family.

Tragically, speaking through his Session to his congregation, Goligher claims it’s all lies, “allegations” that are “terrible,” a deceptive “interpretation that has been put on the facts,” “allegations,” “accusations,” and lies that liars “have insinuated.” Then Goligher makes as if to show himself magnanimous, and from love for his congregation, to fall on his sword:

I love you desperately and don’t want you to have to endure the burden of these allegations and the interminable questions they will raise.

Lies disrupt and confuse God’s sheep, causing them to wander. Many of Satan’s best lies are told by shepherds.

As I read the statement above Monday, December 4th, it seemed incredible the report of scandal apparently had no affect on Liam. He had the chutzpah to think be could lie and flatter his way out of the mess. He was brazen.

Knowing him personally (since 2014), I sent Liam an email hoping to encourage him to admit his sin and go to God and his congregation in repentance. He did not respond.1

A few days later, links to the public court records of both Senior Minister William (“Liam”) W. Goligher and his paramour were publicized, and those records identified the paramour to be one of Tenth’s deaconesses.

Liam Goligher remains the Senior Minister of Tenth Presbyterian Church and a member of Philadelphia Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America. It matters not whether Goligher or his Session consider him to have resigned as the Senior Minister of Tenth and a member in good standing of Philadelphia Presbytery, this is what he has been and remains.

It doesn’t matter if some committee of Philadelphia Presbytery or the Session of Tenth Presbyterian have been prevailed upon to release Senior Minister William (“Liam”) W. Goligher from his call to Tenth Presbyterian Church. They have no authority to do so. This authority is clearly specified in the Book of Church Order to belong to the congregation and the presbytery, together.

The only possible method for Senior Minister William (“Liam”) W. Goligher to stand down as the Senior Minister of Tenth Presbyterian Church is by formal public vote (note that word “public”) of the congregation of Tenth Presbyterian Church and formal public vote of Philadelphia Presbytery. Presbyterian polity is both clear and rock hard on these stipulations, as I have documented in a prior article here on Warhorn.

Goligher’s termination from his call as Senior Minister of Tenth Presbyterian Church must be formally and publicly acted upon by vote of Tenth Presbyterian Church’s congregation at a meeting called and announced with that purpose, followed by vote of the members and commissioners of Philadelphia Presbytery confirming Tenth’s request of the presbytery that Goligher’s call be terminated.

What’s next?

It depends. Under Presbyterian polity, sessions and presbyteries often are confronted with this sort of standoff in the midst of private or public sin.

Liam himself doesn’t understand Presbyterian polity. This is natural for the former pastor of London’s Duke Street Church, an independent congregation of an “historical Baptist tradition.”

But taking up the call at Tenth required Goligher to transfer into Philadelphia Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America, and thus to submit to the government and discipline of the church. Specifically, Philadelphia Presbytery and the PCA’s Book of Church Order (BCO).

The central question is whether William (“Liam”) W. Goligher, Senior Minister of Tenth Presbyterian Church and member of Philadelphia Presbytery, will submit to the authority of his Session, congregation, and presbytery?

And yet, the prior question is whether the elders and congregation of Tenth Presbyterian Church and the members and commissioners of Philadelphia Presbytery will demand Liam Goligher’s submission?

Over a month after the beginning of Goligher’s notorious public scandal, there are no indications Tenth’s session, congregation, or Philadelphia Presbytery has initiated discipline. That in itself is a terrible blot on the Name of Christ. Instead of disciplinary charges or process, what has been done is that Goligher wrote and got Tenth’s session to read Goligher’s denial of his illegal behavior to their Tenth congregation, aiding and abetting Goligher’s lies against the civil magistrate and God.

Where to next?

William (“Liam”) W. Goligher, Senior Minister of Tenth Presbyterian Church and Teaching Elder of Philadelphia Presbytery, must be wrestled to the mat and made to say “uncle.” Not so much for the good of Goligher, although repentance is always a mercy to each of us who belong to Christ. Not so much for the honor of the civil magistrates whose truthfulness in the matter of Goligher’s citation Goligher has traduced. Not so much for the honor of Philadelphia Presbytery which Goligher is defying. Not even for the honor of the Presbyterian Church in America whose polity and Book of Church Order Goligher thumbs his nose at.

What is at stake is the Name and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

When officers of Christ’s Church become notorious for their sin which has become very public, the officers of Christ’s Church must rebuke them publicly. We have three witnesses confirming the sin: the officer who cited William (“Liam”) W. Goligher, Goligher himself who pled guilty and paid the fine, and the judge who presided over the matter.

Now what is required?

Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning.

I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality. (1Timothy 5:19-21)

“Bias.” “Partiality.”

I take no pleasure in writing these things, but the duties incumbent on Philadelphia Presbytery, Tenth Presbyterian Church’s Session, and Tenth Presbyterian Church’s members are clear and must be stated leaving no one with excuse of ignorance. (Forward this to all the members of Philadelphia Presbytery, the members of the Session of Tenth Presbyterian Church, and each member of Tenth Presbyterian Church’s congregation.)

The scandals committed by Tenth’s Senior Ministers and Session since the year 2001 are shameful. Will the members of Philadelphia Presbytery and the congregation of Tenth Presbyterian Church continue to hide the sins of the Session of Tenth Presbyterian Church and their senior ministers ? Will Philadelphia Presbytery continue to show bias and partiality? Is there no one in the congregation of Tenth Presbyterian Church, no member of the pastoral staff of Tenth Presbyterian Church, no member of Philadelphia Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America who fears God and is determined to defend the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ?

What should be done?

Our next post will delineate the proper process required by the Presbyterian Church in America’s Book of Church Order.

(Seventh in a series.)

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1Weeks later, I tried a second time.

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