Thursday, December 15, 2005

PSW Separation Vote Slated for April 29, 2006

The Pacific Southwest board has set the date for the advisory vote on separation from the ABCUSA. It will be held at the First Baptist Church of Pomona on Saturday, April 29, 2006.

December 14, 2005

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Greetings in the strong name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

On December 8, 2005, the Board of Directors of the American Baptist Churches of the Pacific Southwest unanimously approved the following resolution:

The American Baptist Churches of the Pacific Southwest Board of Directors recommends that the Region withdraw from the Covenant of Relationships of the American Baptist Churches USA.

Therefore, the Board of Directors calls for a Special Meeting of delegates from the churches. (Specific date to be confirmed the week of December 12, 2005) The purpose of this meeting of delegates from the American Baptist Churches of the Pacific Southwest churches is for the Board to receive an expression of the will of the delegates to provide the Board with the guidance and input it needs to make a responsible and informed decision on withdrawing from the Covenant of Relationships of the American Baptist Churches USA.

The Meeting of Delegates from the Churches of the Region has been set for April 29, 2006 at First Baptist Church, Pomona. Registration will begin at 9:30 AM. In addition to a main site, we will offer satellite sites, connected by telephone to enable those in the most distant parts of the Region to participate in this important meeting.

For the past three months the Region’s Executive Committee has studied the implications and ramifications of withdrawal from the Covenant of Agreements. Study included:
· Attempts to reach a resolution with the ABCUSA;
· Negotiation regarding future cooperation with ABC Covenant Partners if the region withdrew from the Covenant of Relationships;
· Obstacles that could hinder us in pursuing the Vision of the Region;
· Strategies to overcome those obstacles;
· The future of the Region as an autonomous mission agency.

On December 7 the Executive Committee met with a delegation from the ABC General Executive Council (GEC) in a final attempt to avoid withdrawal. While the Executive Ministers in the delegation communicated a strong desire for the Region to remain in Covenant, they had been given no substantive proposals for resolution by the GEC or the Office of the General Secretary. The ABCPSW Executive Committee therefore reported to the Region Board of Directors, “Nothing we have heard or discovered leads us to change direction or stop the process of withdrawal from the Covenant of Relationships.”

Delegates from every cooperating church in the ABCPSW will be entitled to vote at this important meeting. The number of delegates to which a church is entitled is based on its membership and mission giving, as determined by a formula in the Region Bylaws. The minimum number of delegates for a congregation is five (5). After the first of the year we will write to each church indicating the number of delegates to which it is entitled.

Deep differences of theological convictions and values between the American Baptist Churches of the Pacific Southwest and the American Baptist Churches in the USA have brought increasing strain on the relationship of the churches of the Region and the ABCUSA for many years. The Board of Directors is grieved that these differences have not been resolved.

The decision to recommend withdrawal from the Covenant of Relationships was made without animosity or malice. We continue to affirm that American Baptists are our brothers and sisters in Christ whom we love and respect. The withdrawal of the ABCPSW from the Covenant of Relationships will place some distance between the Region and the ABCUSA that will clarify the distinctiveness of these ministries, enabling both to carry out their respective missions.

We continue to ask the churches of the ABCPSW to observe the last Friday of every month as a time for prayer and fasting until the decision is finalized. Specifically, pray that the Lord will guide congregations and protect their unity as they discuss the issues before us and decide how their delegates will vote. Seek the Lord’s guidance for the future of the ABCPSW including our mission and our relationships with other parts of the body of Christ. If we are to honor Christ we need His Spirit to humble, cleanse, and empower us to recognize and accomplish His will in these challenging days. Pray that the Lord will use us to change our worlds for Christ!

May God bless you as you serve the King of Kings,


Dr. Dale V. Salico
Executive Minister

Brian Scrivens

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