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Catawba Presbytery

Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church


3055 Baird Road Clover, South Carolina 29710-9595
Phone: 803-631-5899 Email: guysmith@comporium.net

Guy H. Smith
Stated Clerk/Administrator
September 3, 2019

MEETING NOTICE
Tuesday, March 12, 2019
Scots Kirk Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church
Summerville, SC
10:00 A.M.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

REPORT OF THE COMMISSION ON MINISTER & HIS WORK

At the Stated Meeting of Catawba Presbytery of March 10, 2019, at Rowan ARPC
(Lugoff, SC) the following recommendation was made by the Commission on Minister & His
Work to Catawba Presbytery:

“8. That the Moderator appoint a special committee to investigate allegations of plagiarism
directed towards our brother Derek Thomas and to report its findings back to the Commission.

The motion was amended and adopted that the words ‘that the Presbytery “make available the
necessary funds for the Committee to do its work” be added to the original motion. The
Commission to whom the moderator’s special committee was to report back to was the
Commission as it was constituted at that time. That Commission on Minister & His Work met
with the moderator’s special committee on Thursday, August 15, 2019 at First ARP Church
(Rock Hill, SC) to receive and review their report. The conclusion to the special committee’s
report is as follows:

“The Committee has verified that there are instances where the Committee’s accepted
definition of “Plagiarism” would apply to some of the older published sermons delivered by
Derek Thomas. Derek Thomas had acknowledged these instances even prior to the
involvement of this Committee. However, none of the interviews and investigations of this
Committee have revealed any credible evidence that Derek Thomas intentionally engaged in
the practice of plagiarism. Based on our interviews and investigations, we find no logical
motivation on his behalf to do so. We further find nothing contradictory to the overwhelming
support of Derek Thomas’ Christian motives, reputation, integrity and character from the First
Presbyterian Columbia congregation and also from the larger ministerial and academic
communities. We believe that Derek Thomas has taken appropriate steps to diminish the
chances of future occurrences of this type. For all these reasons, we believe that this matter
should be concluded so that Derek Thomas can move forward from this experience.”

The moderator’s special committee had as its working definition for plagiarism the
following from the Erskine College and Seminary Catalog:

Plagiarism is a serious offense that undermines both the witness and integrity of the
Christian community. Plagiarism injures the community and dishonors God by inhibiting the
recognition and cultivation of gifts imparted by the Spirit. When others’ words and/or ideas are
used without credit, their gifts fail to be appropriately recognized. At the same time, this
illegitimate use of others’ work prevents plagiarizers from developing and being recognized for
their own gifts. Plagiarism also injures the community and offends God by undermining unity
(Eph 4:3), violating trust by dishonesty (Ps 34:13; Prov 6:19; Eph 4:25; Col 3:9), appropriating
honor due to others (Exod 20:15; Rom 13:7) and offending against the great commandment of
love for our neighbor (Matt 22:39).

[Adapted from a statement, used by permission, of The Lutheran Theological Seminary


at Philadelphia, which was itself adapted, with permission, from “Princeton University
Rights, Rules and Responsibilities,” 1990 Edition. Princeton University, Princeton, New
Jersey.]

On the basis of the report of the moderator’s special committee and the prior investigation
by the Commission on Minister & His Work (as was constituted at that time), the Commission
believes that the public accusation of plagiarism needs to be addressed by the Presbytery in
light of the special committee’s findings. Recommendation 1 is made to address this matter. It is
made in light of the fact that:

a. Derek Thomas has at every step of this process has been willing to submit himself to the
authority of Catawba Presbytery.

b. He has been open and honest with all parties who have questioned him regarding this
matter.

c. He and First Presbyterian Church have taken steps to prevent this happening in the
future.
d. His testimony as a minister of the gospel is well known and attested to over many years
by those who know him.

e. He is our brother in Christ and a faithful fellow laborer in the gospel of our Lord Jesus
Christ.

Recommendations:

1. That Derek Thomas be admonished in writing by Catawba Presbytery for unintentional


plagiarism. This report is meant to serve that purpose.

2. That the moderator’s special committee be thanked for their labors and dismissed.

For the Commission,

John M. Rogers, Chairman