Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Medley Mission to PSW to Proclaim Vision and Show Churches How to Remain ABC - Dubbed "Fiddling While Rome Burns" by Dissidents

News Analysis and Commentary (REVISED WED PM)
By Dennis E. McFadden

Comments by pastors and pastoral staff members who attended the meetings with Dr. A. Roy Medley and his VF team were telling. “All in all, the meeting at Redlands turned no heads, changed no minds and impressed no one except those who are Valley Forge loyalists,” wrote blogger, Dr. Glenn Layne.

“Is this the best we have? Are these four guys the best the ABC has for leaders? My question may ring hollow because I am not much of a leader myself, but these men were as inspiring as mud. You may love the guys, but if these are the leaders of our denomination, where is the fire? I have been more inspired by watching godless communists jump on tanks in the face of hostile fire,” said a PSW pastor of a significant mission giving church.

A pastoral staff member from the San Gabriel Valley called the appearance “pathetic,” saying that the comments by Dr. Aidsand Wright-Riggins III were “positively offensive and insulting.” The same pastor characterized the entire meeting quite negatively. “The Q and A was a real mish mash with the mishing and mashing done by the gang of five . . . When [someone] said ‘I don’t understand our polity,’ Roy said (and I quote): ‘Welcome aboard!’ He hemmed and hawed some more about how Baptist beliefs are very complex, not settled. Pretty much all else he said was incomprehensible.”

One senior pastor who had brought several of his staff pastors with him expressed bitter disappointment at the entire meeting. He reportedly apologized to his staffers sincerely and profusely for "wasting" their time by requesting their attendance.

At the Pasadena meeting, a pastor with deep AWAB credentials lauded Roy's "masterful" reversals of accusations hurled at him in the guise of "questions," turning them around and refusing to allow "dichotomies to stand." Yet, even this pastoral leader said: "Roy didn't seem so much 'whipped' to me as he seemed sad. Ace was asked about native American ministries and seemed a bit testy. Charles Jones and [Sumner] Grant didn't really say much. The question time was essentially a waste of time."

In the Redlands session, even the words of Rev. Charles Jones, Interim Executive Director of the Board of International Ministries, failed to excite confidence. Placing Jones in this context as a “me too” to the direction of Dr. Medley will likely work to further erode support for BIM among evangelical Baptists who have been the strongest supporters of this aspect of ABC work.

Quoting again from a pastor present at one of the meetings: "The question was asked, ‘If our church should choose to withdraw from ABCUSA, could we choose to support some of the ministries of the ABCUSA?’ YESSSSSS! MY Precioussssss. . . . . Yeah, the Missions guy ran up and wholeheartedly encouraged support for missions.”

This type of cynical reaction to Jones may presage additional diminution of the strength of BIM. His Barking Dog has learned that John Sundquist, former Executive Director of BIM, has been scheduling meetings with pastors of the "Top 100" mission giving churches that are in areas currently experiencing conflict with the ABCUSA. A couple of pastors in PSW have already met with him.

Sundquist reportedly volunteered for the special assignment because he was concerned that the VF mishandling of the crisis might have a significant negative impact upon mission support. Although Dr. Medley was reportedly reluctant to allow him to do this work, he ultimately gave his "blessing" to the Sundquist inspired mission.

Clearly Sundquist recognizes the potential catastrophic loss of mission support if VF does not adjust its strategy vis a vis PSW and other regions that have similar concerns regarding the human sexuality issue. He reportedly speaks with alarm at the numbers of churches dropping support for ABC missions because of the controversy.

No one ever accused John Sundquist of being stupid. Indeed, his political savvy has served him well in a welter of denominational assignments. In this instance, his instincts for survival seem more keenly honed than the rest of the VF management team.

The depth of the challenge facing Dr. Medley should not be underestimated. As one pastoral staff member in a PSW church summed it up, VF did little to accomplish its agenda with the meetings other than to demonstrate caring by coming to the region. As a pastor told me, evidently speaking forth the feeling of many conservatives toward the meetings: "It was another case of Nero fiddling while Rome burned."

[These comments belong to the blogger alone and do not represent the opinions or positions of the PSW or any entity within it]

1 comment:

roy said...

my read of the meetings was not that they were taking place to garner support for ABC. If that were the intent, it seems that a very different tactic would have been more effective. I think they were intended as information sessions aimed at the churches that want to stay in ABC, giving them information, first that it is possible and second giving some direction for what the next steps may be.
Obviously there was some sharing of the party line but I never understood these meetings to be intended to change churches' minds regarding their next steps.