Monday, November 28, 2005

A Left-handed Report on the ABCUSA General Board Meeting

It is not often that one has the opportunity to look at an event through the eyes of those who see it in a radically different way from oneself. Today a General Board report came to me from one of our east coast GB representatives who also happens to be a clergyperson. Listen to his view and compare it to the blog of Dr. Salico's remarks from "His Barking Dog," Monday, November 21, 2005. I have drawn attention to the remarks regarding the ABCPSW.

My report from the November 2005 General Board Meeting

First let me apologize for two inaccuracies in my preboard report. One is that the Pacific Southwest Region has not pulled out of the ABCUSA yet. Its board has recommended it, but they will not meet to vote on it until sometime this spring.

The other inaccuracy was that the Ind-Ky resolution had been changed to contain only one proposal and that was to amend a descriptive document titled “We Are American Baptists” by adding to the document a phrase reading “who submit to the teaching of Scripture that God’s design for sexual intimacy places it within the context of marriage between one man and one woman, and acknowledge that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Biblical teaching.”

A simple majority could pass it. The vote for it was 59 – 45, with five abstentions.

The other resolution presented by the Mid-American region was defeated, 66 – 30.

Will this be enough to keep the Pacific Southwest from breaking with the ABCUSA? I do not know. It appears that they want much more than this but it might be enough of a morsel to tease them to reconsider. I must admit that I had the feeling while listening to their executive minister speak that I was back in my childhood and someone was telling me that if I didn’t agree to play by their rules that they were going to take their ball and go home.

Even with all of the above happening, I felt that it was a good meeting. In reflecting on my feelings, I believe they came about because of listening to all the good things that American Baptists are doing. American Baptist gave over 5 million dollars to the tsunami and hurricane Katrina relief efforts. That is a staggering amount. To see how these funds were distributed also gives one the feeling that we are being good stewards of the money donated.

One of my assignments being on the General Board is to be on the International Ministries Board and hear the stories from and concerning our missionaries is awesome. We now have 21 Missionary Partnership Teams operating. That is amazing considering that we just started this program two years ago and the concept is being refined as it is being developed. We have a total of 116 missionaries operating in 27 countries. We also have 47 partner conventions with missionary personnel. A not so good piece of news is that our World Mission Offering giving is behind last years effort. This is where a major part of the support for our international missions program comes from. I encourage all of you to add to what you have already given and encourage the people of your church to do the same . . .

American Baptist to wonderful things around the world with this [OGHS] offering. You will be hearing more as I settle in to what the committee is doing.

Our general secretary Roy Medley was not at the meetings because of a problem with kidney stones. Pray that this problem gets taken care of. Roy was reelected to another term by a 76-33 vote. Our vice president was also absent because of a bad case of the flu. Peg Johnson did a remarkable job of keeping us on track even without the presence of the above two.

What will be the future of our denomination? You ask. I don’t know the answer but I trust that God will continue to lead us through the rough times to greater victories ahead. I have a sense of hope as I consider who the people are that will be listening for God’s direction and leading us forward. They need our prayers and they welcome them.

With all of the celebrating our great work in missions, one should note that 116 missionaries representing 1.4 million members works out to almost one missionary for every 12,000 American Baptists. When one considers other missions' organizations with thousands of missionaries in the field and those denominations smaller than our own with hundreds of missionaries, it causes one to stop and think.

[His Barking Dog does not speak in an official capacity for any entity within the PSW]

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