By Leslie Scanlon, The Presbyterian Outlook.
A second defamation lawsuit has been filed against the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) A Corporation – the denomination’s corporate entity – stemming from an ethics investigation involving the 1001 New Worshipping Communities program.
Eric Hoey, who has served as the PC(USA)’s director of Evangelism and Church Growth, filed suit in Jefferson Circuit Court in Kentucky on June 16.
Hoey is the second person involved with the investigation to file a defamation suit. Roger Dermody – who was hired in 2010 as the PC(USA)’s deputy executive director for mission, serving directly under Linda Valentine, executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency – filed suit on May 29. Valentine has announced that she is resigning as of July 10, although she says her decision to do so is not related to recent difficulties but to a sense that her call to that job has ended.
The 1001 program is the PC(USA)’s effort to start 1001 new worshipping communities between 2012 and 2022.
In the lawsuit’s complaint, Hoey states that around March 2014, Presbyterian Mission Agency employees involved with the 1001 program created a separate nonprofit corporation in California called the Presbyterian Centers for New Church Innovation, Inc., and transferred a PC(USA) grant to an account for that corporation. No one involved “took, diverted to personal use or in any fashion misused any of the funds transferred from the PC(USA) account” to the corporation’s account, the complaint states, and all of the money was returned.