Anglican Watch

More fun and games as Tenth Pres runs rogue and ignores PCA polity

Liam Goligher, liar and adulterer

Following the abrupt resignation of Liam Goligher after his past indiscretions with a married parishioner in a Lancaster park came to light, many hoped that, together with the results of the GRACE investigation and report, meaningful change would come to Tenth Presbyterian in Philadelphia, a well-known PCA church. But well-placed sources tell Anglican Watch that the church and its corrupt session continue to poke a finger in the eye of the local presbytery while ignoring Presbyterian polity.

In other words, Tenth has gone rogue.

To be clear, we are not fans of the complementarianism of the denomination. Nor are we keen on the PCA’s refusal to condemn Christian Nationalism and political violence.

But to be fair, the denomination, at least on paper, tries to run a tight ship. This seemingly rigorous approach to governance is reflected in the Book of Church Order (BCO), which provides a framework for everything to be done “decently, and in order.”

But the reality at Tenth is the polar opposite of the laudable goals of the BCO.

Indeed, our understanding is that Goligher tendered his resignation to the session, versus the two stakeholders under the BCO, which are the congregation and the presbytery.

That begs the question: Why has the presbytery not insisted on fulfilling its role under the BCO and PCA polity?

There seem to be several answers to that question.

One answer is the majesty of the sanctuary and its historical significance. Designed by the architect who designed City Hall, the building is a glorious masterpiece of historic church architecture.

Another issue is Tenth comprises a large percentage of PCA members in the Philadelphia region. Thus, its commanding presence and financial leverage, combined with a spineless presbytery, render Tenth immune from meaningful oversight.

Additionally, many of the other PCA churches in the presbytery operate on comparatively limited budgets. Thus, Tenth has become the tail that wags the dog.

This lack of oversight is made worse by the various conflicts of interest within the church. For example, George McFarland interacts with a stated clerk who is a colleague at his professional job. That, combined with McFarland’s questionable veracity and excessive tenure, have created a bubble of entitlement at the heart of church governance.

Speaking of questionable veracity, session purportedly got a slap on the wrist some time ago for lying to church members. But it’s unfortunate that the presbytery didn’t do what needed to happen, which was to remove session and clean house.

Where are things today?

The biggest indicators of where things are today at Tenth Pres are the church’s budget shortfall and its plummeting attendance. Right now, insiders tell us there’s a $900k deficit, although we’ve heard speculation that the number actually is higher.

Meanwhile, it’s indisputable that the place is emptying out. Once packed pews now are alarmingly bare as church members increasingly realize the church has become anything but Christ-like. And what is sad is that McFarland and the other ringleaders don’t realize that church members aren’t stupid; the church can hire GRACE or otherwise put all kinds of lipstick on this pig, but it’s still lipstick and it’s still a pig.

Speaking of fun, games, and taking parishioners for fools, canceling today’s congregational meeting, ostensibly due to the weather, was disingenuous. It’s also proof positive that the church lacks the integrity to deal effectively with abuse.

As things stand, we are confident that McFarland and the other apparatchiks are discussing a separation package for Goligher.

But paying Goligher severance is a foolish move on the church’s part.


  • Session previously declined to implement that most rudimentary of safeguards, background checks for employees and volunteers. Given the issues with Elzey and Goligher, we suspect we know why the church failed so miserably on this issue.
  • Neither Elzey nor Goligher had the integrity or the love for the church that would have resulted in them admitting to their misconduct.
  • Goligher, McFarland, and Elzey all have issues with the Ninth Commandment and their fabrications about Phil Snyder. Nor is McFarland’s previous apology for his lies consistent with true repentance. 
  • Goligher has so little respect for the church he’s still telling folks his encounter with Elzey was a picnic. Spare us. We don’t believe that and we don’t know anyone who does. As for the bit about being framed and consoling each other in the back seat of Elzey’s SUV, why would those two buttheads drive to Lancaster for their little consolation session? And why would they plead guilty? Or be in the back seat? If you fall for that one, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. Not only that, but Elzey’s role as Goligher’s attack dog against Snyder is inconsistent with her claim to be at arm’s length to Goligher. Not to mention pleading guilty to a crime she didn’t commit would be a lie, and thus would itself be ethically problematic. And because it takes two to tango, pleading guilty would mean she bore false witness against Goligher and vice versa.
  • We have repeatedly heard Goligher described as a narcissist and sociopath. While we have no way of knowing if these claims are accurate, we’ve heard enough to believe they are accurate. And there is no reason to subsidize either set of behaviors.
  • We remain deeply dissatisfied with the presbytery and its glacial pace when it comes to addressing allegations of abuse. Nor do we see any signs of meaningful change within Tenth or the presbytery. Thus, we are left wondering why Goligher (or anyone else) would think he deserves any severance, particularly when Tenth still has not repented of its sin towards Phil Snyder and other abuse victims. Real leaders put their own needs behind those of the people they serve, and Tenth has a lot of work to do before it is in a position to pay a severance to an alleged adulterer.
  • The fact Tenth tried to avoid releasing the GRACE report tells us it has learned nothing about integrity, disclosure, and accountability. As Christians, we are called to bring light to the darkness. But Tenth Pres prefers to do business in the dark, and that tells us all we need to know.
  • If Tenth pays a severance, it will fall into the same ugly pit as the Episcopal Church, which took great care of adulterous bishop Whayne Hougland, even as it ignored the needs of the people in the pews. Clergy are there to serve, not act as entitled little mini-monarchs. And this little stunt caused incredible damage to the trust that members have in the church.

Of course, those who urge that denominational courts adjudicate issues at Tenth overlook the fact that the church already is running rogue, with scant attention to Presbyterian polity. Thus, any church court is going to have difficulty parsing issues before it, as Tenth is, in many ways, Presbyterian in name only.

How will it end?

From here, Tenth increasingly reminds us of an addict who has to hit rock bottom before they come clean. Folks like McFarland, Elzey, and their minions are too entrenched for meaningful change to happen. And McFarland appears to know that if Goligher goes down, his sorry backside is toast, so the two of them appear to be working hard to slime over these issues.

God and Mammon, anyone?

Thus, we predict the church will continue to shed members until it teeters on the brink of collapse. When that happens, there will be no choice–either it changes, or Tenth dies.

Will the church choose life? We think it will.

But the wages of sin are death, and this is a church rife with lies, abuse, cover-up, and perjury against Phil Snyder. As long as McFarland, session, and the current elders remain in place, nothing will get better in this den of vipers.

Until the church repents, makes reparation, and amends its ways, Tenth is heading toward destruction.

In the meantime, Anglican Watch urges all persons who believe that integrity matters avoid Tenth Presbyterian.

As for members, we urge you not to throw good money after bad by paying any severance or separation to Goligher. He is a disgraceful, disgusting slimeball, and it would be best for all involved if he left and had no further contact with the church.

One comment

  1. “Tenth increasingly reminds us of an addict who has to hit rock bottom before they come clean.”

    I didn’t realize I would resonate with such a sentiment untiI I read it and TBH if feels true.

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