Thursday, October 13, 2005

First Report from the PSW Annual Meeting in Bakersfield (CA) Plus Comment




ABCPSW Annual Meeting



Dr. Dale Salico – Executive Minister, ABCPSW
“God’s Call to Change Our Worlds for Christ”
Rms 12:2; 2 Cor 3:18; 1 Jn 3:2

* For many people, life is a disappointment
· Some people are disappointed with God
· Young Americans are disappointed with the Church
· The problem is not that they were expecting too much
· The problem is that they expected too little


* God’s goal is not only our Salvation for the next world, but our Transformation in this one

* Metamorphosis is God’s portrait in nature for Spiritual transformation

* The problem: Your spiritual DNA has become disabled by sin

* We convince ourselves that this world is all there is and that it is good enough
* Satan blinds individuals
* Satan blinds churches

* Unlike caterpillars, we are responsible before God and before each other for how we conform to the world.

* Through Christ our spiritual nature can be energized by God’s Spirit

Gene Appel – lead pastor, Willowcreek Church –
“How to Change Your Church Without Killing It”

Why Change?
Why we have changed . . .
We were dying
We weren’t reaching many lost people
We weren’t communicating the gospel in an understandable language
We were producing too many church go-ers and not enough fully devoted followers of Christ
To whom much is given, much is required
The Gospel is about change

Why are we so resistant to change?
We glamorize the past
Fear of the unknown
Unsure of the skills needed to lead through change
We’ve heard too many “crash and burn” stories

How do we change?
1. Prepare the soil –
a. the need for raising urgency
b. form your “dream team” – need the right people on the bus
c. develop and cast a compelling vision
i. what is your target?
ii. what are your unique strengths that you bring to the task?
iii. is our vision simple enough to be understood?
d. gain some credibility
e. communicate, communicate, and communicate (otherwise people will connect the dots in the most pathological way of possible)


2. Plant the seed –
a. affirm whatever is affirmable from the church’s past
b. magic words: “trial basis”

3. Cultivate/Fertilize -

4. Harvest –

Annual Business Meeting
Brian Scrivens, President of the Region

Main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing
The main thing for PSW is our new vision

Dale Salico – ABCUSA Relationships

For 20 years the issue of homosexuality has divided the ABCUSA
Homosexuals in society have advocated for change in society’s perception of their orientation and behavior
AWAB has advocated for moral acceptability of monogamous homosexual relationships
The legal and moral edge of the debate is now same-sex marriage
Two groups in the church
Conservatives – God blesses monogamous heterosexual marriages
Revisionists – calling for openness to legitimacy of same sex intimacy and relationships

The issue before the ABCUSA
1992 Resolution – “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching”
Should “out of the closet” homosexuals be permitted in leadership positions and on boards and commissions of the ABCUSA?

What should be the standing of revisionists that advocate for legitimacy of homosexuality for roles of leadership and teaching in ABCUSA events?

November 2004 – 3rd consultant in 12 years recommends against church planting campaign due to deep divisions in the ABC resulting in the deep division over homosexuality.

Consultant urges EM to take painful action or see the ABCUSA continue to bleed assets

Several regions reported churches, associations, or even the entire Region upset by inability of ABCUSA to implement Resolution on Homosexuality.

REMC wrote a pastoral letter with voluntary actions for restraint, promising recommendations to GB by June 2005

April 2005 – San Antonio

REMC and GEC fail to agree on any steps to implement the Resolution on Homosexuality

GEC recommended the education of American Baptists regarding denominational structure and the “unique unenforceables” of ABCUSA life

ABCUSA – Separate corporation for International Ministries, Separate corporation for National Ministries, Separate corporations for regions, Separate corporation for MMBB, Separate corporations for 5,700 churches

Affirmed the right and responsibility of every Agency, Region, and Board to exercise its best wisdom and judgment in determining the most faithful way to honor the resolutions in their contexts.

ABCPSW Response

Deep dismay over San Antonio

If no action by Biennial

Remain a full covenanting partner, but reduce participation in ABCUSA meetings

Establish parallel relationships with other bodies to help us advance our vision and mission priorities

Withdraw from the ABCUSA Budget Covenant, but continue as a Covenanting Partner in the ABCUSA [Dr. Medley said the Covenant is a seamless whole; to withdraw from one is to withdraw from all]

Biennial Meeting, Denver, June 2005-10-13

GB received IN/KY report

No action until Nov 2005

GB called for unity while rejecting enforcement of Resolution in the name of soul liberty

Speakers and a Statement of Concern blamed conservatives

Regional Listening Conferences

14 conferences with over 300 persons

Overwhelming support for board’s position (95% expressed support)

Sept 7 – President Peggy Johnson and Dr. Roy Medley met with pastors and church leaders of ABCPSW (250+ present)

Because of respect for local church autonomy and soul liberty the ABCUSA does not implement policies related to Biblical, theological or moral issues

ABCUSA DOES implement policies related to finance and the Budget Covenant
Differences in Core Values revealed in meeting of Board and Dr. Medley/President Johnson

ABCUSA – local church autonomy and soul liberty
ABCPSW – biblical authority and local church integrity

Board passed resolution the next day

Irreconcilable differences

Will initiate process to withdraw from the Covenant of Relationships (39 partners to covenant may withdraw at any time)

Executive Committee to study the implications and report to Board on Dec 8, 2005

Upon approval, Board will call for special regional meeting in 2006 to vote on the resolution.

Our board has the authority to withdraw but felt that the churches should be entrusted with this decision on their own. (soonest this could happen is March of 2006, 90 day notice)

Churches must remain members of both the ABCPSW and ABCUSA to be able to vote on this issue.

The board also said that we continue to recognize our brothers and sisters in Christ in the ABCUSA as beloved friends and co-workers in the body of Christ. Because of our long history and many common concerns in gospel ministry, we will have opportunities for continued fellowship and partnership

What’s the issue?
Homosexuality is the issue above the water line (tip of the iceberg)
Below the water line: biblical authority and accountability

Three mental models
Denominational split
– anger, accusation, hostility.
Corporate spin-off – creating distance and distinct identities with the possibility of future mutually beneficial relationship
Networking – forming and developing mutually beneficial partnerships to advance a cause embraced by all partners

For the record
I have advocated for a balanced biblical policy regarding human sexuality and unity in the ABCUSA for over two decades

NM Grow by Caring Task force and writer

ABCUSA Commission on Denominational Unity

Common Ground Conference Leader

Many calls to pastors to urge them to stay in the ABCUSA

On GB and International Ministries Board

Called to PSW to cast vision, uphold theological convictions, and maintain unity with the ABCUSA

On writing committee for the new ABCUSA Budget Covenant

Advocated for implementation of Resolution on Homosexuality while maintaining unity.

Written letters, position papers regarding this issue + hours of phone calls

Parchment Valley Agreement member

11 ABC EMs

Covenant to work together

Three hour meeting with Dr. Medley on Sept 27; one hour meeting with Charles Jones same day

ABCUSA’s Response

Expressed sorrow over the decision by PSW

ABCPSW members of GB EC asked to leave meeting when PSW situation was discussed

ABCPSW delegates asked not to attend November meetings of the GB

National Ministries immediately canceled the contract with PSW for cooperation in ministry with Native American Churches without notifying PSW EM

National Ministries told Native American pastors they will lose their salary support if they remain with ABCPSW

NM and OGS have organized meetings in the region without notifying EM

MMBB will continue in partnership with the ABCPSW
Augie Bau invited to share MMBB’s commitment
Core benefits will remain the same
Non contractual benefits may be jeopardized (Center for Ministry subsidies, emergency fund, thank you check)
Benefits for retirees do not change regardless of the actions by PSW

International Ministries' partnership PSW churches will still be able to have their members appointed as missionaries in the future

PSW Board Action 10-13-05

Call for prayer and fasting for God’s guidance for ABC relationship on last Friday of every month until decision is made

Accepted into its record a statement by the Black Caucus calling attention to the historical relationship of ABCUSA and African American and other minority persons

ABCPSW will remain in the Budget Covenant until the churches vote the region out of the Covenant of Relationships (otherwise VF will interpret the end of the year as the end of our ABC relationship which the Board does not want to appropriate for itself)

With all the needs and issues we face in our nation and world today, why has the issue of homosexuality so important today?

To answer the question, Dr. Salico's responds with the quotation often attributed to Magisterial Reformer Martin Luther:

“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the Devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battle front besides, is merely flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.”

An additional hardball tactic surfaced during the Question and Answer time. One man stood to report that the Native American churches have not only been threatened with a loss of salary support, but also with enforcement of reversionary clauses. With emotion choking his voice, this pastor explained how vulnerable the Native Americans feel as they are being pressured not to affiliate with PSW on pain of loss of all financial support and their church properties! His report included a prospective timeline that may take effect as soon as the end of the year. Since the PSW board has elected to submit the matter of withdrawal to the congregations of the PSW, the earliest time the vote could take place (as mandated by the By Laws) would be March of 2006.

Interestingly, Dr. Medley insisted in writing to the PSW churches that no matter what PSW does, local congregations are still affiliated with ABCUSA UNLESS they take individual congregational votes to withdraw. Do different rules apply if you are a poor Native American congregation? IFF this report is true (and we heard the same story from multiple sources in our Arizona Native American community), isn't it fascinating that the upholders of justice for all minorities are willing to bully and threaten the least and the last among us in order to strike back at PSW?

Additionally, we were asked by Brian Scrivens, a layman who serves as PSW President, to pray for communications between the region and Valley Forge. He indicated from the platform that his letters to Valley Forge have not been responded to, nor have the letters, e-mails, and telephone calls from Dr. Salico to Valley Forge.

About the only bright spot in all of this relates to the reactions by MMBB and BIM. MMBB assures Salico that PSW pastors will continue to receive their contractual benefits and that they are still considering what to do about the non-contractual benefits. Charles Jones, interim ED of BIM, also indicated his desire to continue in mission partnership with PSW. Of course, readers should know that PSW leads the denomination in money sent to BIM. Salico, somewhat puckishly, informed the assembly yesterday that with regard to our givnig to BIM, "We're number one!"

Dennis E. McFadden

[This report is offered for the information of the readers of His Barking Dog and not to be confused with an official report of the proceedings. I claim no official authorization or permission to offer my opinions and observations which do not represent any official or entity within the PSW]

2 comments:

Someone there said...

You are good!

JONESY said...

Dennis: this "hardball tactic" by ABCUSA with the Native American Churches could well be made to turn around and bite them in the posterior. Think about it: while the "white churches" may well be able to pull away from ABCUSA with little to no consequences, the ABCUSA is threatening to use MINORITY CHURCHES as leverage against PSW! "Maybe if we threaten the Indians, Salico et al will back off!" So really here's ABCUSA, using Native Americans as hostages to attempt to manipulate PSW! Doesn't this objectify, demean and discriminate against minorities? Since they have had funding from NM, they can hold them prisoner--they have them where they want them! How patriarchal! Whatever happened to the vaunted diversity of ABCUSA? Perhaps we see the true colors showing forth!