Sunday, July 30, 2006

AWAB's Rev. Pennings Offers Response to Dr. Medley's "Call" to American Baptists: Predicts "Extreme Moral Outrage" by AWAB Members

In a message addressed to the "Members of the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists," Rev. Ken Pennings, Executive Director of the association responded to Dr. Medley's July 17, 2006, "A Call for American Baptists to Live Lives of High Moral and Ethical Responsibility" posted at

He speaks of his pain, the "same pain" he experienced when a pastor who found out that Rev. Pennings was gay asked him not to come back to the church "ever" again. He predicts unanimous "extreme moral outrage" by all 65 AWAB congregations at Roy's letter.

Rev. Pennings raises several good questions, prompted by the letter. "What are those of us in the ABC who are so deeply hurt by your letter to make of it? Is your letter an invitation for us to leave the ABC? Or we reading something into it we shouldn't?" Characterizing the letter as a "call" not to ministry, but to "acts of exclusion," he reacts against the "exclusionism, elitism, and judgmentalism" he finds filling the missive.

In response, Rev. Pennings issues a "call" of his own:
"I urge Roy and all American Baptists to repent of this kind of exclusion of God's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Allied people, and 1) to welcome the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists as an official exhibitor at the 2007 ABCUSA Biennial; 2) to endorse qualified LGBT-Allied chaplains; and 3) to joyfully hire qualified LGBT-Allied people on his immediate staff. Also, I urge Roy to retract his letter and to confess his lapse in judgment in posting it."

[His Barking Dog lives in his own cyber doghouse and when barking does not wear the tags of any official persons or organizations]


Amill-Presup said...

I just read the pastoral epistles again and Pennings should be pleased to hear that I've now hired ALL "qualified" lesbian, gay, and bi-sexual ministers at my church! My church isn't even all that big, but I had room on my staff for all zero of them, seeing as how a practicing homosexual is immediately disqualified from holding office as an overseer, elder, or deacon by the simple fact that HE OR SHE IS A PRACTICING HOMOSEXUAL.

Dennis, when you talk about all your dear friends on the left that you don't want an all-out war Ken Pennings one of them?

Dennis E. McFadden said...

Amill-presup -

When I hear the giddiness in your voice . . . oh, er, wait, that was another person's comment to me. Never mind.

Actually, I have never met Rev. Pennings and have no problem going to battle with him. My "dear friends" on the left include an openly gay minister who just got married and used to run the Ministerial Leadership Commission of the ABC, the current ED of the Ministers Council, a ranking Roger Williams Fellowship executive committee member and former President of the national Ministers Council, and a former AWAB pastor ministering in California. My affection for them is boundless; my disagreements with them are profound. I simply do not see much of a chance of reclaiming the ABC from them.

Amill-Presup said...

I hope you can see the difference between hating the errors that are dragging the ABC down and being excited to watch the process of the thing being dragged down and ripped apart (or at least appearing to).

All of my giddiness is reserved for the day AWAB disbands for lack of interest. For now, what you hear is sarcasm and immovable commitment to reclaiming the once and future great denomination that traces itself back to Providence. Granted, there's not a ton I can do, since my connections to the ABC don't go beyond the region level, but I can not fold, and that's something.

Dennis E. McFadden said...


Whoa! No problem. I'm just returning the sarcasm. Of course there is a difference between the two (although I still won't cop to being "happy" at the disolution). Your comments are always welcome and appreciated. Keep them up.

And, as to "not folding," you know what Kenny Rogers used to sing: "You've got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, and know when to run." After serving in a lifetime of committees in my region and at the national level, right now I'm admittedly in between a stroll and a sprint. But, God bless you for sticking with the ABC. My fondest hopes are with you even though my managerial instincts are decidedly more pessemistic.

DrK said...

Responding to The General Secretary’s July 17 Statement

What was our General Secretary thinking when at the ’05 Denver Biennial he gave the speech that might be the death blow to our denomination. Probably, he was thinking the conservatives would go along to get along once more, and step out of the way as ABCUSA made its headlong run into progressive liberal extremism.

That didn’t happen. PSW did what many other ABC people are thinking about. They voted their official withdrawal from a denomination which had turned the meaning of the Bible on its head.

Now the General Secretary has restated his opinion with the recently released statement of July 17, 2006. In it he expresses his personal belief in traditional morality, and his responsibility as General Secretary to implement the policies of the General Board. I am glad to hear him make such statements, however, they do not stand alone. There is a wide and serious context in which his words must be interpreted.

As a Christian brother I love Roy in the Lord. I am grateful for the many good things his ministry has accomplished over the years in ABC. I worked well with Roy when he was the Executive Minister of New Jersey, and gave him a supportive review when questioned by an evangelical brother in another Region prior to his becoming General Secretary. I want to keep my personal friendship with him in good standing, but realistically I can’t view this statement as anything more than a last ditch attempt to keep the denomination from coming apart.

In November PSW will be gone. At least, 81 individual churches have left the denomination since Denver. Regions and churches around the country are reevaluating and, some reconsidering, their connections to ABC. Who knows how many more are likely to say adios.

Into this milieu comes the July 17th statement. My take is that it is too little, too late.

TOO LITTLE: There is nothing in the statement that indicates the General Secretary will make any effort to implement the General Board’s policy in a way that would call the Welcoming & Affirming churches to repentance regarding their antibiblical endorsement of homosexual behavior, or invite them to relocate if they will not repent. The statement appears to be a sop to conservatives whose departure en masse would break the back of the denomination. It’s an attempt to staunch the bleeding. Roy, does not promise to use the bully pulpit of the OGS to promote a return of ABCUSA to traditional Bible believing faith. He does not promise to support associations or regions who feel compelled to discipline churches violating the teaching of scripture. He has not promised to advocate implementation of the 1992 Policy by National Ministries. Recent job descriptions mailed out by National Ministries (7/06) do not even list a biblical worlview as a requirement for consideration. He has not promised to attempt to steer clear of promotion of unbiblical theology and practice by speakers at Biennials and other national meetings, nor has he promised to give equal time to conservative theological biblical speakers.

I can only assume that while he will continue to implement the policy as he describes in the statement, that across the denominational landscape we will simply see more of the same kind of things we’ve witnessed over the last decade.

TOO LATE: I believed when Roy came to the OGS he could have turned our denomination around (the Executive Secretary of my Region still thinks he can). A letter like the July 17th statement with some specific promises, and projected implementations spelled out could have stopped the split. But back then such a statement was not forthcoming. It appears to me he proceeded then on the usual ABC experience that the conservatives would turn the other cheek “AGAIN,” as they had done so often in the past. But this controversy over the meaning of scripture appears to have been the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back.

Some think it’s about time.

It’s now or never. Turn ABCUSA back to the teaching of scripture as authoritative for faith and practice, and the expected standard for all member churches, or wish Bible believers well as they go in a new direction leaving Valley Forge and their memories behind.

Bills Blog said...

Its never. Its over. Give it up. The ABCUSA .... the fat lady is singing.

Italian-Swamp-Yankee said...


I have exactly the same sentiments:
· Warm feelings for Roy.
· Blasé feelings to the letter's influence.
· Pensive feelings toward ABC future.

I do have a bit more hope than HK--not sure the pleasantly plump lady with Viking horns is ready to sing. Then again, I always see the glass half-full; I still believe in Christmas miracles.

Amill-Presup said...

> Happy Kine said...
> Its never. Its over. Give it up.
> The ABCUSA .... the fat lady is
> singing.

Yeah, and the SBC will never be taken back from the liberals either. Never. It's over.

Dennis E. McFadden said...

Amill-presup -

THE difference is as follows:

1. SBC polity allowed for (some have even said encouraged) dramatic political action from individuals and schemers. Plus, Patterson and Pressler proved themselves to be absolutely singleminded in their devotion to the cause. They were willing to engage in a real war with overwhelming force and real casulties in order to effect a takeover. To them the casulties were either acceptable losses or merely "collateral" damage, insignificant in terms of what was to be won.

2. American Baptist polity, particularly after the '92 resolution to avoid a national referendum has been tweaked to prevent just this kind of action. The denomination wanted to make sure that you could NOT do a referendum or pull off a Patterson/Pressler move. In fact, the standing rules have made modified to make a political "takeover" not only unlikely but virtually impossible from a logistics standpoint. Last summer, some on the left were accusing me of being on an alternative ballot to "take over" the denomination. I laughed, not only at the ludicrous suggestion that I would be willing to serve in a national role and (more politically) at how insane it would be to attempt to mount a change by this means.

Second, I know of NO conservatives willing to engage in all out war over the leadership of the denomination. The most likely candidates, the folks in the PSW, voted to withdraw come Novemeber.

3. By way of analogy: Patterson and Pressler were like George Patton who was willing to sustain tens of thousands of losses among his own troops in order to win. The conservatives in the ABC act like UN peacekeepers, a handful of deaths = a human rights catastrophe.

Yes, IFF we had SBC polity and IFF we had people who thought like Patterson and Pressler, you might see a change in leadership. However, no one to my knowledge (me included!) has the stomach for such divisive carnage. Hence,my line remains: You've got to "know when to hold 'em; know when to fold 'em; know when to walk away; know when to run.

Amill-presup, fight the good fight. But, have you noticed all those PSW folks clearing the first 440 mark in under a minute?

Bills Blog said...

amil-whatever. That kind of thinking is exactly why the ABC has dwindled down to a virtual after thought.

Amill-Presup said...

> They were willing to engage in a
> real war with overwhelming force
> and real casulties in order to
> effect a takeover. To them the
> casulties were either acceptable
> losses or merely "collateral"
> damage, insignificant in terms
> of what was to be won.
What a perfect description of what we need. The leadership in my region is FULL of these people, unwilling to back down and unwilling to pull out. Parchment Valley was also an encouragement.

Happy kine:
> amil-whatever
Um... Eloquently put.

Dennis E. McFadden said...


Wow! What region are you in?

Italian-Swamp-Yankee said...

Dennis Doggy-dogg,

Why is it virtually impossible for ABC to create some inclusionary/exclusionary lines?

You have graciously taken great pain to explain it, but I don't understand why it can't happen. What hoops would a group have to go through to get a "vote" of some sort to whatever powers-that-be?
Hypothetically, a dozen Regional Execs get sick of hearing pouting and threats from grass-roots level, traditional churches--how do they bring this issue the floor (and what floor is that)?

I have a strong feeling there are few pastors who understand this process; forget the laity's understandings. God bless your struggling with me so I can understand this.
PS: I think you and Rev. Presup(position?) are nearing a clinical breakthrough. You two have no idea you're on the verge of a hug. Good banter—I enjoy it.

Amill-Presup said...

I'm pretty sure you're trying to be clever, but yes, it does stand for presupposition (or rather, presuppositional).

As in amillennial eschatology and presuppositional apologetics. We could use a little Kuyperian shot in the arm in my opinion.

Dennis, I'm in Michigan.

Dennis E. McFadden said...
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Dennis E. McFadden said...


I prefer classical apologetics but have great respect for presuppositional apologetics (and for the stoutly orthodox reformed people who typically practice it).

Michigan? Wow, I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy. In all of the ABC, you folks are the ONLY ones who have actually grasped THE solution and been bold enough to propose it. Your 19 to 1 board vote last year (to dismantle OGS, GB, etc.) was a stroke of genius. And, had it been taken more serously by the GB (instead of that deceptive ABNS reduction to miscellaneous "structural changes"), PSW would not have withdrawn and we would have a fair chance of keeping the "family" together while we work on the long term problems. IN/KY's "patience" as they wait for their proposal to wind its way through the maze may be lauded, but it will prove a cul de sac. You folks actually had the solution.

Wow! Michigan. I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy. Oh, yeah, I said that already. :)

Dennis E. McFadden said...
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Dennis E. McFadden said...

"Why is it virtually impossible for ABC to create some inclusionary/exclusionary lines?"

Yes, a group of disgruntled (or simply scared) EMs COULD vote to put some teeth in the policy. They have the votes to win in the GEC IFF they were to "get together." However, institutional inertia, fear for their own positions, pressures from the OGS, and the significant number of "progressives" in their ranks militate against any truly happy solution for evangelicals.

On the national level, Standing Rules make it VERY difficult for ANYthing to come from the grassroots, except through the GB. At this point, that is an even more difficult group to work with than the REMC.

Currently, a group of EMs, including some centrists (e.g., Sam Chetti) are trying to lobby for support for the "national table," "common table," "Lancaster Proposal" idea. Passing this is probably more "do-able" than the Michigan plan. In a sense, Lancaster might be dubbed: "Michigan lite."

Frankly, while I laud the motives of the EMs who are valiantly trying to save the ABC, the voices raised against even this modest incremental plan make it anything but certain to pass.

Next month the GEC will meet with their organizational consultant AGAIN to examine structural changes to the ABC. With mission receipts falling like a stone, "something" will be done. Just what that something is remains to be seen.

Italian-Swamp-Yankee said...

I finally got something right. Like BD, I respect your candor. Seriously, I do appreciate your conversations with BD--despite the sassiness.
Keep the faith,
Thanx BD. I need a day to pick apart and understand your reply. I think I'm beginning to get this ABC, political quagmire.


Dennis E. McFadden said...


Wasn't trying to be dense. Let me know where you would appreciate greater clarity. I don't usually write in coherent sentences in my commments. Let me know what isn't clear and I will try to unpack it a bit.

Thanks to each of you for reading and interacting.

Italian-Swamp-Yankee said...

NO. You are actually one of the few lucid abc'ers who can come close to explaining why change does NOT take place.

I'm fascinated to why there are so many theo-traditional churches, yet progressives dominate conversations. Old PSW (TM) is also such an interesting dynamic too. It's like the only kid, one of the most respected kids in the alcoholic family, having the guts to admit Dad has an alcohol problem (dad is VF dysfunction). When one of the kids takes a stand it either emboldens the functional ones to also say something or everyone runs for cover because the wrath of dad and dealing with battered, hyper-affirming mom struggling to keep what’s left of her family together. She denies a problem and convinces the kids, “Everything is ok”.
It's not ok. God will be holding those with the most influence accountable. I am encouraged there are EM's chatting. It's a start.

Anyway BD, when I said I would digest your response I meant I'm starting to know why it's hard to create change but still don't know what would have to happen to make change happen--a decision. Even if it is a 1 in a 1,000,000 chance, Festivus miracles do happen. I truly think dysfunctional, liberal theology is being exposed for what it is. Think of it: in our lifetime we witnessed communistic countries fall after the Berlin wall crumbled –who’da thunk it! As mentioned, I believe TM's stand will embolden like-minded regions to take there own stand--maybe not pull out, but at least together stand up to the school bully. I better shut up before more metaphors pop out.

NO. Thanks for the simple clarity--it helps.

Dennis E. McFadden said...

I plan to blog on Dr. Stinnett's remarkable and transparent lucidity in his current blog. You can feel the ache in his soul for the churches leaving his region, yet sense his desire to find a middle ground. Unfortunately, his middle ground allows for homosexual ordination AND opposition to it all under a slightly circumscribed medium sized tent. Once "we" excise (or they do the honorable thing and leave) the lunatic left and lunatic right, "we" can get back to being American Baptists. Interesting idea.

But, knocking a few nuts off both sides of a walnut tree won't make it any less of a walnut tree. If his plan intends to build on the Lancaster proposal, it will eliminate more than a few of the left-leaning nuts. Let's see how that tree trimming proposal gets through the left-leaning GEC!

Bills Blog said...

Wow after reading all of the banter I am exhausted. I still say that no matter what the wrangling we still have a denomination that has two religions (quoting the last tirade of ABE article) two Gods, two different Bibles. All of the structural changes will mean nothing. We are talking theology here. Ever since 1907 when we decided that we couldn't have a confessional statement we have been doomed. Go back and read J. Greshen Machens stuff it is so parallel to what is going on here its scary. He had no hope unless it was a repentful, clear conviction God given, driven change in the heart of his denominatnion back then.

Bills Blog said...

One more thing. I sure would like to see that brilliant brain power that you display put to work on offering tools and advice to pastors on how they can become more effective in ministry.

How long is this catharsis going to take?

Dennis E. McFadden said...


You are TOO funny! Tomorrow is my 53rd birthday, 51 of those in the ABC. The catharsis will probably take just a bit longer. Sorry. Besides, what do I know about pastoring these days? Other than a couple of preaching interim stints (Pasadena and Granada Hills), it has been 9 years since my name was "pastor." I do post occasional pieces about resources on the Beaconchurches site (e.g., yesterday I mentioned Dever's "Nine Marks of a Healthy Church" for only $7.95 put up last month on the Doxa Digital Press site. It comes in Cross compatible eBook download that requires WORDsearch 7 or Bible Explorer 3. But, good news, you can download Bible Explorer 4 for FREE using their hyperlink. Doxa offers a number of doctinally substantial books--including Berhof, Kuyper, Boice, Piper, Horton, Boettner, AND a Baptist Theological Collection--for very nice prices."). But, beyond that, hey, what do I know? I just run a retirement home!

Bill Nicoson said...
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Italian-Swamp-Yankee said...

We are a passionate non-creedal people. We have no statement of faith.
No statement of faith is interpreted as no moral, absolute standards.
No moral standards cause less mature Christians/congregations to dismiss our sacred Scripture as sacred suggestions. This causes devotion to its Christ minimized to a live-and-let-die religion saying, "Believe in whatever you want; never confront anyone to what they believe, at any expense".
Baptists' struggled against Rome and England's State Church creating us a non-article-of-faith people. No matter what ABC does, I will follow the Bible where Paul says, "Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers" (1 Tim. 4:16)—“live, and help others live, at any expense”.

Beyond the Rome/Church of England tensions, what’s the genesis of our inherited cliché to being a “non-creedal people”? HK alluded to a 1907 decision. I’m interested in that.
Did non-creedalism evolve or was that an intentional, corporate decision?
Also, what is the harm or danger of having a biblical, statement of faith (Roy just made his faith/position known), and what are the dangers for a hypothetical ABC biblically based denomination having such a created statement?

Still believing in holiday miracles,