Wednesday, February 15, 2006

L.A. Executive Minister Agrees to Do Heavy Lifting for General Secretary Medley

Dr. Samuel S. Chetti, Executive Minister of the ABCLA, announced his intention to provide administrative oversight to non-withdrawing ABCPSW congregations in response to a direct request by ABC General Secretary Roy Medley. In a letter, dated February 7, 2006, Chetti informed his congregations of a decision by the regional board in January to offer support in the event that ABCPSW withdraws from the Covenant of Relationships.

In a letter addressed to colleagues “in ministry,” Chetti explained:

Since churches are connected to ABC-USA through a regional body, Rev. Medley requested that LABCMS provide administrative connection. On January 14, 2006, our Board of Directors met in response to Rev. Medley’s invitation to consider options of assistance. It is our desire to help our American Baptist brothers and sisters during this time of transition. Enclosed you will find the decision of the Board of Directors of Los Angeles Baptist City Mission Society to the General Secretary’s request that we provide assistance of administrative connection to the newly formed association of American Baptists in the Pacific Southwest area.

While Chetti allowed that the action by his board came in response to a direct appeal by the ABC General Secretary, he clarified that “this administrative connection does not mean we accept the new churches into our convention. They exist as an autonomous ecclesial body, self-sufficient unto themselves. Where there is ministry advice and oversight by LABCMS staff, our expenses will be reimbursed by the new organization. This relationship will cease once the new association becomes a regional body.”

Clearly, several important points surface in Chetti’s communication:

1. Despite reports that he did not want to provide oversight responsibilities for the non-withdrawing PSW congregations, Chetti was willing to respond to the personal request by Dr. A. Roy Medley.

2. Any expenses incurred by the administrative relationship will be reimbursed by the new organization.

3. No one anticipates the arrangement becoming permanent. Indeed, the letter from Chetti specifically indicates that the oversight will cease “once the new association becomes a regional body.” On this last point, Dr. Jeff Woods had already broached the possibility of a new regional body to replace the PSW during the recent round of informational meetings held in San Diego, Redlands, Pasadena, and Los Angeles. In the Redlands meeting, Woods addressed the issue of churches becoming an informal association prior to solidifying as a formal region in covenant with the ABCUSA. If memory serves me, he spoke in terms of the process taking a couple of years.

General Secretary Medley’s response to the possible PSW withdrawal shows prudential concern for caring for members of the ABC family who might be disenfranchised by a PSW vote to separate from the national body. However, readers should remember that Dr. Dale Salico repeatedly proposed accommodations that would have allowed PSW to continue relating to the ABCUSA. The precipitator for the breach was not personal animus, stubbornness on the part of Salico, or impossibly high thresholds for continued participation. Dr. Medley informed the region that none of the proposed accommodating measures were acceptable and that the issue was a “take it or leave it” one.

In the final analysis, American Baptists are asked to accept rejection of biblical authority, endorsement of (or passive acquiescence to) violations of biblical morality, and theological latitudinarianism masquerading as “radical discipleship.” Representatives of the left parade antinomian notions of “soul liberty” as if Scripture and more than two thousand years of church teaching should be simply swept aside in favor of the social and theological fads de jour.

[His Barking Dog has never been asked to exercise administrative responsibility over any group of ABC churches, withdrawing congregations, or entities within the PSW. This dog barks solo]

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