Attorney at Law
2620 Fountainview, Suite 106
Houston, Texas 77057
Tel: 713-784-7618 Fax: 713-784-9063
February 12, 2003
To: The concerned members of Heights Presbyterian Church
Re: State of affairs at Heights Presbyterian Church
1) We have made a tremendous amount of progress in regards to putting the church back on track and ridding ourselves of the negative influences that have been tearing the church apart for the last year. I know it is hard to see what is going on because so much of it is now in the civil courts and also in the Presbyterian bureaucracy but know we are moving forward.
2) In regards to our visit to court. We had two motions before the court: 1) to appoint an auditor and 2) to require the session meetings to be held on church property, open, recorded and with a security guard present. The court made a decision that since Presbytery was finally involved, the court would allow them time to do their work.
When the court informed me that she was going to overrule my motions, she also told me that I could take testimony in the event I wanted to appeal her decision. This was the most important reason for the hearing. I wanted to get Joe on the stand and have him answer a few very important questions.
As you all heard, Joe has been signing off on the Independence Heights Project without authority from the session, the Presbytery or the congregation. What was interesting is that Joe readily admitted that he was acting on his own. Unfortunately for Joe, he does not understand that he probably ended his career and has potentially subjected himself to criminal prosecution by the Office of the Inspector General of the United States. Only trustees of the church can sign off on the project even if it was a legitimate deal.
I have prepared letters to the U S Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Office of the Inspector General which is mandated by Congress to investigate H U D fraud and wrong doing. The letter will also implicate, Walter Ellis, James McClain, Tom Lord, Bob Casey, Jr (Lord’s attorney), Diane Feiler McGehee and Diane Springer. All these people have acted on their own authority to perpetuate a fraud on H U D.
3) In addition, I am preparing an official complaint to Presbytery regarding the bad acts of these rogue members of the congregation of Heights Presbyterian Church. I am sure this matter will get immediate attention from the present administrative commission.
4) I am also going to file a motion for contempt to be heard in the 280th court regarding Joe’s violation of the court’s order of December 6, 2002, closing off all discussion regarding the Independence Heights Project.
5) In addition, I will be filing an official complaint with the Synod of the Sun regarding the illegal acts of Presbytery. I have Lynn Johnson on video and Reagan Brown, attorney for Presbytery, deliberately lying to the congregation and the court about the authority of Presbytery to take control of the session. Even when I pointed out the lies of Mr. Brown to the court, he still adhered to his misstatements.
There are two sources of authority regarding Presbytery’s intervention in the affairs of the session.
G-9.0503 (a) The function ordinarily entrusted to an administrative commission are: 4) to visit particular churches, governing bodies, or other organizations of the church reported to be affected with disorder, and to inquire and settle the difficulties therein…
G-11.0103 The presbytery is responsible for the mission and government of the church throughout its geographical district. It therefore has the responsibility and power: (s) to assume original jurisdiction in any case in which it determines that a session cannot exercise its authority. Whenever, after a thorough investigation, and after full opportunity to be heard has been accorded to the session in question, the Presbytery of jurisdiction shall determine that the session of a particular church is unable or unwilling to manage wisely the affairs of the church, the Presbytery may appoint an administrative commission (G.9.0503) with the full powers of a session.
As you can see from the above Rules per the Book of Order, Presbytery does not have the authority to take over the session because it has done no investigation, it has not allowed the session members to speak and it has not considered that the problems with the session are the moderator, Joe Delgatto, who has effectively shut down the church.
In a word, the Presbytery has overstepped its bounds and Lynn Johnson has lied to the congregation about his authority and the authority of the administrative commission.
6) In addition,
G- 9.0502 A commission is empowered to consider and conclude matters referred to it by a governing body. The appointing body shall state specifically the scope of the power given to a commission. A commission shall keep a full record of its proceedings, which shall be submitted to its governing body to be incorporated in its minutes and to be regarded as the actions of the governing body itself.
There has been no mandate from the Presbytery giving the administrative commission any particular authority. Lynn Johnson lied about it to the congregation and Reagan Brown lied about it to the court. There is no mandate from Presbytery defining the scope and duties of the commission. Certainly there is nothing authorizing the administrative commission to take over the session.
7) I have attached a copy of the article from the Houston Chronicle that came out in Tuesday’s paper as well as my response to the article. For those of you who were in court, you know that what was reported is not what actually happened in court.
8) I will be prepared to give you another update after church on Sunday.
Feb. 10, 2003, 11:39PM
Judge denies activist's bid to scuttle church project
A state district judge on Monday denied a local activist's request to force Heights Presbyterian leaders to conduct any future meetings on a senior citizens housing project at the church and not a private home.
Not true. All future meetings regarding the project are still denied per the court's order of December 6, 2002. The session meetings can continue on all other subjects. The session members meet in private homes in order to prevent the majority of the congregation from witnessing their bad acts and deeds. Why else does a session permanently close all meetings of the session on all subjects to the members of the congregation? In addition, one of the members of the congregation has assaulted one of the senior citizens on the session and the last session meetings was held at the home this unemployed member's sister where he lives. The purpose was to intimidate the other senior citizens on the session who were trying to stop the sessions illegal acts with this 300 pound male's presence.
John WorldPeace also asked state District Judge Tony Lindsay to have a certified public accountant do an outside audit of Heights Presbyterian Church during the hearing. The judge denied the request.
After nine months of pleading with Presbytery, the next higher governing body of the church, Presbytery finally acted last Saturday and the court felt that it did not need to intervene at this time because the attorney for Presbytery alleged to the court that the finances and other matters would be looked into.
WorldPeace sued the church on behalf of his mother, a church member,
Wrong. Joyce Wolter is not just a member of the church. She is a member of the session and one of three trustees of the church charged with protecting the church assets. It was in her capacity as trustee that she sued. Last week, official complaints from twenty four members were sent to Presbytery complaining of the bad acts of the minister, Joe Delgatto. This is one fourth of the congregation. Joyce Wolter represents about half of the congregation in this matter. It is not proper to add this many people to the lawsuit as plaintiffs.
to block construction of the proposed housing project.
Wrong again. The preacher under oath testified in court that he did not have the authority or approval of the church session, nor the congregation, nor Presbytery to commit the church to the HUD project. He admitted that all the documents that he had signed over the last twenty-one months were without authority. He admitted that the last document he signed on Janurary 9, 2003, was in violation of the court's order for the discussion of the project to be suspended on December 6, 2002.
He contends Heights Presbyterian minister Joe Delgatto and other church leaders made a secret deal to build 63 apartments without consulting the congregation.
And that he did per his testimony at trial. The Rules of the Presbyterian Church require that the session, the congregation and Presbytery approve the project which they did not.
"I will continue to push (this) through the civil courts system as well as through the bureaucratic process in the Presbyterian Church," said WorldPeace, a former gubernatorial candidate now running for mayor of Houston.
A lawyer for the administrative commission of the Presbytery of New Covenant, a group of clergy and elders who oversee 109 local churches, said it will investigate the allegations.
And this is the reason that the court did not grant WorldPeace's motions. The court wanted to give the administrative commission time to work.
"The administrative commission looks forward to its role in attempting to resolve these disputes and is optimistic that at the conclusion of its work these disputes will be resolved," said Reagan Brown of Fulbright & Jaworski.
In court, Mr. Brown did not respond to the fact that the administrative commission did not have a mandate from Presbytery, and was not authorized to replace the session of Heights Presbyterian Church as it has announced it was doing. WorldPeace will be filing complaints on behalf of the congregation to the Synod of the Sun, the governing body over Presbytery regarding the wrongful acts of the Presbytery of New Covenant in appointing the administrative commission contrary to the Book of Order.
Max Tribble, the lawyer representing Delgatto, called the allegations against his client and the church ridiculous. He said it is an internal church dispute and it is inappropriate to drag it into civil court.
It is as appropriate to drag Delgatto and others into court for stealing as it is to drag pedophile priests into court for molesting children. The Presbyterian Church, USA does not have the authority to put Delgatto in jail. The criminal courts do. The civil courts have authority to award damages to the church for the bad acts of Delgatto and others who have conspired with him.
"They have nothing to back them up," he said of the plaintiff and her lawyer.
Except Delgatto's testimony in court that he had no authority to commit the church to the project on his own signature.
Despite WorldPeace's allegation that the church didn't approve the project, Tribble said the church signed off on it last April.
Tribble lied or the reporter misquoted him. Delgatto's testimony was clear on each of six documents that he had signed regarding the project; that he did not have the authority to obligate the church to the project without the approval of the session, the congregation and the Presbytery.
Further, in court Tribble accused WorldPeace of being against the project because it was to be built in the ghetto. WorldPeace would show anyone who bothers to look at this web page at (http://www.johnworldpeace.com) that there is no one more dedicated to racial equality than WorldPeace. Surely a man who changed his name to WorldPeace fifteen years ago and advocates equal treatment and respect for all nations, religions, races and both genders, is not a racist.
In addition, the session approved a budget in December, that spends more than twice the income of the church and approximately $300,000 of the church's assets are unaccounted for since Delgatto became minister five years ago. That is why an audit was requested.
Lastly, WorldPeace was baptized and has been a member of Heights Presbyterian Church most of his life. Delgatto destroyed the records of WorldPeace's membership after 1972. WorldPeace applied to be reactivated as a member. Delgatto has closed the membership of the church and has refused to allow WorldPeace or his wife or his aunt to again become members of the church. This is in violation of the Rules of the Presbyterian Church which says that to reject for membership anyone who has reaffirmed his faith is a rejection of Christ and a scandal on the gospel. Several members of the Presbytery have supported Delgatto in this wrongful act, in particular, the stated clerk of the Presbytery, Lynn Johnson.
On December 5, 2002, an official complaint was sent to Presbytery regarding Delgatto's refusal to allow WorldPeace to reactivate his membership. To date, Presbytery has refused to act on that complaint. If they do not act before March 5, 2003, the complaint must be transferred to the next higher administrative body, the Synod of the Sun.
To date, the acts of the Presbytery have been to support the illegal acts of Delgatto from rejecting new members to attempting to illegally obligate the church to a $4.7 million project. (The land on which the project is to be built is on the tax rolls at $37,000 but is to be purchased for $220,000. It is undeveloped land which will has no sewer connections.)
How can we manifest peace on earth if we do not include everyone (all races, all nations, all religions, both sexes) in our vision of Peace?
The WorldPeace Sign
To the John WorldPeace Galleries Page
To the WorldPeace Peace Page