Monday, February 06, 2006

New Association Forms Within PSW to Carry the "Loyal American Baptist" Label

The Association of American Baptists in the Pacific Southwest is up and running. Interested readers of His Barking Dog can find information and promotional material at So far only four churches have signed on as charter members of the association. They include University Avenue Baptist Church in San Diego, the First Baptist Church of Redlands, Living Hope Baptist Church in Bakersfield, and One in Christ Church in National City. I can envision at least a hadful of additional congregations joining the effort, including a couple of fairly significant churches. Their initial web site explanation includes the following:

The Association of American Baptists in the Pacific Southwest
Looking to the Future

We give thanks for the almost one hundred years of exciting mission service of the American Baptist Churches, USA. As we look to the future, we believe that diverse body of disciples known as American Baptists will continue to be faithful in mission and ministry, blessing the lives of millions around the world to the glory of God. We therefore are forming a new association of American Baptists in the Pacific Southwest to serve with and support our American Baptist partners across the globe. This association will enable churches in the American Baptist Churches of the Pacific Southwest to remain in mission with the larger American Baptist family when ABCPSW withdraws from the Covenant of Relationships with ABCUSA.

Four basic convictions guide the formation of this new association.

1. The mission to which God is calling American Baptists is greater than the differences between us

2. Baptists are at their best when they work together where there is agreement and ask God’s blessings upon one another when they disagree

3. The only way to insure full participation in American Baptist ministries is through the Covenant of Relationships with the American Baptist Churches, USA

4. Full covenant partnership in the American Baptist family not only offers exciting avenues for ministry, but also offers a continuing and real challenge to stretch and grow as responsible stewards of a global mission

We believe that people ought to follow their conscience in matters of faith and practice as they allow the Holy Spirit to form their hearts and minds through discipleship to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Our intent is to create the avenue by which those who desire to remain in full covenant with the larger American Baptist family may do so with confidence and conviction.

How will this happen? If and when PSW withdraws from the Covenant of Relationships, churches in the region will be notified that until they vote to withdraw as individual congregations, they are still part of ABCUSA and have the opportunity to join the new association which will relate administratively to the Los Angeles Baptist City Society (American Baptist Churches of Los Angeles). The City Society is one of the strongest full-service regions in the ABC and is a willing partner in this endeavor.

Check back to this website in the weeks ahead for more details as they become available. We welcome your questions and concerns so we can best serve you during this time of change, innovation, and renewal. Feel free to contact any of us about your interest in this endeavor. Inquiries will be kept confidential.

The fear implicit in the final sentence sounds strangely discordant. Dissenting congregations, particularly those named in the roster of charter members, have hardly been subjected to punitive measures or heavy-handed coercion. Indeed, it might be argued that PSW has consistently treated dissenting voices with greater respect and fairness than some Valley Forge national entities and a number of executive ministers have shown to pastors and congregations voicing disagreement with the latitudinarian party line. Indeed, based upon reports in various message boards, the purge of evangelicals has begun in several regions while these four PSW pastors continue to enjoy respect and, to be crude, their jobs, salaries, and benefit packages.


roy said...

Hey Dennis,
I was not part of the writing of the document so I can't speak with any authority but my guess is that the offer of anonymity isn't because of fear of reprisal by PSW. Rather it allows folk to inquire without anyone else making judgements about where they stand on any issues.

Dennis E. McFadden said...


"The offer of anonymity . . . allows folk to inquire without anyone else making judgments"???Sortof like companies that pledge to deliver their wares in plain brown wrapped packages?

My point was that it is more than a little ironic that the cloak of anonymity would be offered as a "product advantage" in an environment where several public "reprisals" have been made from those on the left toward evangelical voices. Obviously fear of "anyone else making judgments" runs both ways as you well know. Count my observation as "rueful wry observations for rhetorical purposes" rather than an attempt to fairly evaluate the fear level on either side.

Thanks, again, for keeping me honest.