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Former Indiana Presbyterian Pastor to be Tried by Denomination’s Highest Court

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The Standing Judicial Commission of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) has agreed to consider the case of Dan Herron, a pastor from Indiana accused of sexually harassing several women.

Herron was pastor of Hope Presbyterian Church in Bloomington, Indiana. According to reporting by The Roys Report, five women sent a letter in 2019 to the Central Indiana Presbytery asking it to investigate sexual harassment allegations against Herron.

In May 2021, the presbytery decided that, based on its investigation, there was a “strong presumption of guilt” and would institute an ecclesiastical trial against Herron.

Herron denies all allegations against him, but he is no longer the pastor of Hope Presbyterian Church.

Within a couple of weeks of the presbytery’s decision to proceed with a church trial of Herron, he filed a defamation lawsuit in civil court against the women claiming their accusations caused him harm.

Because of the admonition in I Corinthians 6 against litigation between Christians before unbelievers (secular courts), the presbytery “ruled Herron contumacious for his refusal to withdraw the civil suit, suspending him from office and the sacraments.” Contumacy means stubborn resistance to obey authority.

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However, after Herron removed some of the evidentiary documents in his civil suit, but not the suit itself, the presbytery withdrew its finding of contumacy.

Due to the withdrawal and the way the Central Indiana Presbytery has handled Herron’s case, three overtures submitted by groups of churches, or presbyteries, in northern California, northern New England, and the Chesapeake region request that the highest court of the PCA take over Herron’s case.

The withdrawal of the penalty against Herron, despite his lack of repentance, has resulted in “public scandal” not only for the accused but for the denomination, the overtures assert.

According to the PCA’s Book of Church Order (BCO), the presbytery may request the case be referred for final disposition to the Standing Judicial Commission of the denomination. In late May, the Central Indiana Presbytery requested such a referral, and it was granted on June 2. 

The Standing Judicial Commission consists of 24 elders, divided into groups of six. The BCO states that “the decision of the Standing Judicial Commission shall be the final decision of the General Assembly.” 

The General Assembly of the PCA represents all the churches of the denomination and is held annually. It is taking place this week, June 21-24, in Birmingham, Alabama.

In accepting the case, the Commission listed a few stipulations: the Central Indiana Presbytery will provide the prosecutor, Herron’s counsel in the civil trial may represent him at the Commission trial, and arrangements for the trial will be reported to the Commission at the earliest possible date.

Herron did not respond to a MinistryWatch request for comment regarding the matter before time of publication.

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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a freelance writer who holds a Juris Doctorate from Baylor University. She has home schooled her three children and is happily married to her husband of 25 years.