Thursday, August 24, 2006

What About the Board of International Ministries in the ABC?

Someone recently asked me to comment on the short-term prospects for International Ministries in the ABC in light of declining dollars and the departure of the Pacific Southwest Baptists. The issue is complex, to be sure. However, PART of the problem relates to the continued uncertainty due to Rev. Jones' extended interim status. The aftermath of Hector's departure left some angry people on the left. Accusations of racism were rife. The IM search committee took a very long time before even beginning their search process to let things "cool off." This took its toll on forward momentum and single-minded pursuit of the goal. Now they are evidently prepared to put forth a name (although some have suggested political pressure to delay any naming of a replacement until early next year).

Of the four persons reportedly in the final consideration, all of them are capable and faithful leaders, several with IM experience. However, this represents a signal opportunity for Dr. Medley to make one more try at keeping the remaining conservative regions in the fold. And, on that score, none of the names (IMHO) promise a skill set up to the task. While their experience (regional EM, IM insiders, charismatic missionary) all reflect a partial package, NONE of them has the complete bag of tricks necessary for this crucial time in ABC history.

And, more importantly, I cannot imagine ANY of them being able to reassure conservatives thinking of bolting. At best, it may delay a wider schism. However, this would miss Dr. Medley's possibly LAST chance to put his right foot forward and to select an outspoken conservative to provide some semblance of "balance" to the very unbalanced tilt of very good (but predominately left leaning) folks at the top of ABC leadership.

For those of us in Transformational Ministries (aka APCPSW), it will probably not matter. Judging by my time with Dr. Salico last weekend in Hawaii, there will be no turning back for the southwest. Regardless of how many congregations Valley Forge can coax into remaining with them (and some of the political machinations by national folks have been enough to make an old fashioned Taminy Hall pol blush), Salico is set to move forward with a positive agenda for Gospel ministry in a new century.

Frankly (editor's note: this is my way of saying to readers that this is MY opinion and analysis unencumbered by ANYone official or authorized to speak in TM, Southern CA, or anywhere where the Bible is read and believed), selecting from the names surfacing so far will likely complete the move of TM away from ABC. Salico had negotiated a "partnership" agreement with IM to continue funding IM missionaries after the Nov 1 final date for withdrawal. However, IM will not be the only avenue of international partnership for TM. If BIM selects someone who represents "same old same old" in ABC politics (i.e., pretty much anyone on the list I heard), it may merely facilitate a quicker redirection of TM dollars to other mission endeavors.

So, bottom line: even though I no longer have a dog in this fight, with more than a half century in the ABC, I plead with Dr. Medley to make a savvy choice for the long term good of the denomination, even if it means asking the search committee to dig a little deeper in their bag of candidates.


[DISCLAIMER: my ONLY area of influence relates to the fact that I chair the mission board of my congregation which has been a "top 50" missions giving congregation. If the search committee proposes and Roy OKs a "same old business" style leader, my personal vote would be in the direction of examining our missions commitments more closely. However, this is just ONE person and ONE opinion in a very large denomination, not to be confused with any Dr. So-and-So of importance or entity in the southwest.]

No comments: