Sunday, November 06, 2005

Fund Raising Letter from Dr. Medley Posted on Web; Received with Mixed Reactions

October 28, 2005

Dear ____________:

Grace, mercy and peace through out Lord Jesus Christ. I want to take this opportunity to extend a very special invitation to play a very significant role in renewing and revitalizing the ministries of the Office of the General Secretary (OGS) of the American Baptist Churches USA.

This ministry stands at the center of all we do. What the hub is to the wheel, what the heart is to the body, what the sun is to the solar system, the Office of the General Secretary is to American Baptist ministry and mission. I’d like you to prayerfully consider standing with me as we move into some of the most exciting times in the history of American Baptist ministry.

To speak about the ministry of the Office of the General Secretary is a misnomer because it is a people ministry, not management of machinery. It is about equipping, empowering and encouraging pastors, local congregations, and regional and national staff to be more effective and efficient in their ministry for Jesus Christ.

You are rightly focused on the ministry of your church-the fundamental unit of mission. However, often unnoticed are the coordinating, envisioning, caring and general ministries at work. When people pause in wondrous admiration at an exquisite orchid garden, they rarely spend time admiring the complex sprinkler system that helps make it all possible!

Listed below are examples of the people ministry of OGS:
• Cutting-edge ministry strategies taught by Dr. C. Jeff Woods, Associate General Secretary for Regional Ministries and a recognized authority in ministry trends.
• Sound financial counsel for church treasurers offered by Rev. Cheryl H. Wade, Associate General Secretary and Treasurer.
• Basic stewardship and tithing teaching and resources for local churches by the World Mission Support staff who help us challenge the dominant consumer culture in which we minister.
• Newly designed, user friendly Web site and first class journalistic news reporting from the staff in our Office of Communication.
• Care for our employees through our Human Resource staff and good stewardship of the ABC Mission Center in Valley Forge by our Building Maintenance personnel.

As your General Secretary, I feel called to add to the list:
• I have rejoiced and been blessed in many prayer gatherings across the denomination.
• I am thrilled that our General Board adopted our new mission statement. With all my heart, soul and strength, I pledge to carry out the vision that we may be Centered in Christ- A People of Prayer, Purpose and Passion.
• I am excited about the Wait on the Lord conference for ministers in January 2006.
• I eagerly anticipate the appointment of an Associate General Secretary to lead the Office of Mission Resource Development, which will combine the ministries of World Mission Support with the Office of Communication
• I am honored and humbled that the General Secretary’s Prayernet has been wonderfully received by American Baptists. Nearly 6,000 people have joined! What a mighty source of power for Christ and the Kingdom!
• I am delighted that my Pastor to Pastor, Heart to Heart newsletter has been positively received by our pastors. The response has been so overwhelming that plans are developing for two more web-based newsletters entitled Leader to Leader and Disciple to Disciple.

This is an incredibly exciting moment in the ministry of the Office of the General Secretary.
Because this ministry can’t be done alone, I am writing to invite you to become a Charter Member of one of the “Circles” that will play a vital role in our expanding ministries to the church. The enclosed brochure shares some of the benefits you’ll receive as a Charter Member.

To keep you abreast of all that your membership means to our ministry together, you’ll receive your choice of any or all of the three communications I’ve mentioned: Pastor to Pastor, Leader to Leader, and Disciple to Disciple. Although many who join these Circles are not pastors, they welcome the opportunity to see how their partnership is blessing American Baptist pastors from coast-to coast with this newsletter.

What’s more, because Leader to Leader isn’t just for those with formal positions of leadership. But for those seeking to influence others for Christ and be positive agents of change, many members of these Circles will opt for this complimentary subscription as well.

To be a blessing to you daily, you’ll also receive a complimentary subscription to the Secret Place, an acclaimed devotional used by thousands of American Baptists to enrich their walk with the Lord.

Also to remind you of the ministry your membership will make possible week-in and week-out, you’ll receive a beautiful Centered in Christ, United in Mission… and Growing poster, a stunning image of Christ composed of hundreds of faces of American Baptists.

Enclosed are a special reply care and return envelope. To accept your Charter Membership invitation, simply check the appropriate box on the Member Enrollment Form, and return it at your earliest convenience in the enclosed envelope.

Please accept my heartfelt thanks for your friendship, and for all that your support will mean to so many as we move forward with prayer, purpose and passion.

Centered in Christ,

A. Roy Medley

There are five circles/levels of giving:
Adoniram Judson Circle: $10,000+ annually
Albert Paul Brinson Circle: $5,000-$9,999 annually
Leonard Ballesteros Circle: $1,000-$4,999 annually
Jitsuo Morikawa Circle: $100-$999 annually
Helen Barrett Montgomery Circle: $25-$99 annually

Membership in the GSC entitles you to: your choice of newsletters ("Pastor-to-Pastor; Leader-to-Leader and/or "Disciple-to-Disciple); a complimentary subscription to "The Secret Place" devotional guide; your very own copy of the "Centered in Christ" poster with "a stunning image of Christ;" AND "the satisfaction of knowing that you are advancing the mission of Christ through ABC/USA."

The professional quality of the letter and the accompanying inserts strongly suggests a professional capital campaign counsel or at least a corporate communications advisor. The use of letterhead for the campaign ("General Secretary's Circles), well designed brochure, and the tell-tale signs of a coordinated and sustained campaign are unmistakable.

This blogger predicted almost two years ago that the "real" purpose of the Seek It! process was to set up the conditions for a capital campaign. Repeated feasibility studies over the past dozen years had revealed an inhospitable environment for a denomination-wide capital campaign, in large part due to the level of internal conflict and to a lack of a unifying mission/vision/values component to ABC life.

That such a professional appeal would follow on the heels of Seek It! either represents an innocent coincidence or evidence of a well-crafted plan. Readers can decide for themselves whether the Seek It! outcomes provide evidence of sufficient unity to justify a campaign. The recent actions within the Pacific Southwest and certain other regions belies the notion that the completion of the Seek It! process brought unity of purpose and vision to the denomination.

Durable Data Blogger, Dr. Glenn Layne (, commented that the fundraising appeal "has been widely received with derision and even a bit of gallows humor." He opines that "in the midst of the PSW crisis and on the verge of denominational meltdown, the Office of the General Secretary thought this was a dandy time to raise money to patch the hole in the Titanic."

It will be interesting to see whether Roy and his OGS colleagues can build a persuasive case for a campaign designated for on-going expenses. Certainly, they would not have embarked upon this course without considerable feedback from fundraising counsel. Nevertheless, raising money for the OGS at a time when it is at the center of divisive controversy within the ABCUSA will make the effort more difficult than it needs to be.

Dennis E. McFadden

[Blogging only my own opinions and not to be confused with any official positions, persons, or entities within the PSW]

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