Sunday, June 25, 2006

General Board Sends Message to PSW Baptists

I have always thought that the ABNS had a unique gift for understatement. Notice how the June 25 press release, "AMERICAN BAPTISTS RESPOND TO REGION’S WITHDRAWAL," perfects that tendency by leaving some of the important points unsaid.

ABCUSA General Secretary A. Roy Medley told General Board members that discussions with the region’s leaders as recently as two weeks ago have been conducted “in a spirit of not wanting to do each other any harm, in seeking to bless one another even in separation.” National and regional officers are engaged in working out details of the separation, including such matters as disposition of property and status of pastors, he said.

Dr. Medley wants to work out an amicable separation without rancor or ugliness. Praise God! What a spirit of generosity. At least this will not be a repeat of the tragic anger and recriminations of the GARB and CBA splits in the 30's and 40's respectively. I have been saying for years that we should "bless one another, even in separation." But, wait, better check the rest of the press release.

Set the 2009 Biennial convention for June 25-29, 2009, in Pasadena, Calif.

Pasadena? Isn't that located in the heart of the former Pacific Southwest? Won't that be interpreted as an "in your face" slap from the denomination? Isn't Pasadena First Baptist one of the handful of congregations voting to remain with the ABCUSA? Maybe this was "in the works" for years. Who knows if Dr. Salico was consulted. Perhaps he signed off on this as a gesture of cordiality? But, whether he did or not, the reality of the event will be a direct assault on the new Transformation Ministries.

In view of the changing situation vis a vis PSW, would it not have been a better idea to reward the stalwart loyalty of Dr. Chetti and move the biennial to L.A.? Having attended the 100th Gala of his region, I can testify that it was the MOST IMPRESSIVE denominational event I had ever attended (albeit a bit long). With Sam handling the local arrangements, you could almost guarantee a FANTASTIC program with (or without) Valley Forge assistance. And, with nearly 1,000 people in attendance at the gala, that would speak well of a built in constituency for the biennial. Imagine having a thousand locals to bolster your numbers! [Editorial note: a knowlegeable source tells me that Sam pushed pretty hard for the Biennial in L.A. and that the event will be hosted by ABCLA).

As it stands, announcing Pasadena as the venue is a little bit like insisting on holding a family reunion at the home of the daughter-in-law who just divorced your son because that was the plan developed at the reunion last year when they were still married. Now, the biennial becomes an "in your face" to Transformation Ministries and stands to be a very low attendance event due to lack of local support and promotion. Sheesh! Only a group like ours would be able to send two wrong messages in a single act.

Very, very, interesting. So much for blessing one another, even in separation.

[His Barking Dog has never had an unuttered thought in his life. So don't expect me to mimic the sublety of the American Baptist News Service OR to pretend to speak for any organization or authority anywhere. My rants are strictly personal and unrelated to any official position or office.]


Bills Blog said...

I guess that they have to come to the West sometime. Do you think that anyone in the west cares? I would be curious of the average age of the persons who voted to leave the ABC at Pomona. I had heard that one church couldn't get anyone to go to Pomona because the average person in there church is around 35 years old and no one cared. postdenominationalism.

Dennis E. McFadden said...

The audience was heavy with pastors (of all ages) and boards of ABC congregations. So, by definition, it was a bit older than an average congregational demographic since it included mainly the church leadership. However, there seemed to be a good number of people in their 20s and 30s.

Dennis E. McFadden said...

A friend of mine with insider connections just sent me this update.

If I understand the ABCUSA Biennial 2009 dynamics correctly, Sam has suggested, encouraged, pushed for the event to be out here. I believe that Pam Davis was the one who did the searching for a site. Long Beach Convention Center was unavailable, even that far out, so she/they looked elsewhere and ended up at Pasadena.

But, if my understanding is correct, it is actually ABCLA who will officially be the host region for the event.

Like you, I find the timing interesting and the choice of venue (ie within PSW rather than within ABCLA) a bit of a surprise.

roy said...

I don't know the timing of these plans... it had been my impression that they began working on biennials at least 4 years in advance...
One other perspective: Perhaps this is not so much a slap in the face of the PSW but a gesture of support to those congregations that are choosing to stay in ABCUSA?
And finally, it looks as if the churches that remain in ABCUSA will be related at least in some way to the LA region so the biennial will be taking place within that new configuration of the region.