Thursday, November 23, 2006
I'm off Friday to the second of three wedding receptions for my daughter who recently wed in Illinois. That, several preaching and teaching assignments, and an unusually heavy load at work have kept me from blogging much.
I have noticed, however, that my "urge to purge" has diminished considerably since the separation from the ABCUSA on November 1. Unlike some of the SBC ex-pats who still devote more internet time to blogging about their former denomination than they do discussing the ABC (and even after some of them have logged more than a decade and a number of high level elective and appointive positions in the ABC!), my current energy for engagement has dropped to a pretty low level. Hey, my last blog even contained a compliment for Dr. Medley!
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Hamblin, who will begin in his new responsibilities Jan. 1, 2007, will relinquish his position as budget review officer. He will assume the financial leadership responsibilities currently held by the Rev. Dr. Cheryl H. Wade, who will be resigning Dec. 31 as treasurer and associate general secretary to become director of philanthropy for the Kendal Corporation. http://www.wfn.org/2006/11/msg00178.html
When Cheryl Wade announced her resignation, I suggested that this was a signal opportunity for Dr. Medley to appoint a solid conservative to the post. Lloyd Hamblin, one time Executive Minister in West Virginia, certainly fits that descriptor. Lloyd is known for his integrity, financial acumen, and outspoken evangelicalism. A few more selections like this one and Medley may have a chance to keep the other conservative regions in the fold after the departure of Transformation Ministries (aka ABCPSW).
This was an EXCELLENT choice, Dr. Medley. "Ya done good."
Monday, November 13, 2006
From the glorious wedding service (full of worship, praise songs, hymns, touching sentiment, and even a pony drawn cart transporting my grandsons and the grandchildren of the groom's father and mother down the aisle of the church as flower girl, ring bearer, and pony escorts) to the wondrous reception at the Jacob Henry Mansion Grand Victorian Ballroom, it was a wedding to remember.
My heart nearly broke as my son-in-law said to my daughter in the vows: "You were my first kiss and you will be my last." She responded by saying: "I have protected my purity and saved myself for you as my gift of love to you." My sermon was a full length exposition of Isaiah 43:1-4 (no surprise) with applications to the marriage relationship as a reflection of God's covenant love for us. The parents and mentors of the bride and groom were asked to come forward and pray for the couple during the ceremony. Many tears were shed then too.
The only really original piece in the ceremony (besides the pony during the procession - hey the groom's family are all horse people) happened at the end. After pronouncing them, I took the Bible that I had preached from, and told my daughter something like this . . .
Holding up the Bible in my hand, I reminded my daughter and son-in-law that "this book is a love letter from God to us. It records his love for us and his desire to redeem us for himself, entering into a covenant of relationship with us for eternity. In the Old Testament he calls us by his covenant "married name" Yahweh. In the New Testament he rescues us for himself and gives us a new name. Sarah when you committed your life to the Lord many years ago, he gave you a new name as a mark of your covenant of relationship. One day the book of Revelation tells us God will whisper your new name to you in glory. Now, today, Sarah, you are receiving a new name again because of your covenant with this good and Godly man, Cory. On behalf of your mother and me, I want to present to you this Bible from which I preached your wedding sermon imprinted with your new name, 'Sarah Hooley.'" Both the bride and groom wept. By the way, so did I.
One of the 275 guests was a non-Christian uncle of the groom. He wept throughout the ceremony and told the father of the groom that he had never been to a wedding like this. He said it felt as if God were present.
He was. Soli Deo Gloria! God bless you Mr. and Mrs. Cory Hooley.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
We, the Overseer Board of New Life Church, have concluded our deliberations concerning the moral failings of Pastor Ted Haggard. Our investigation and Pastor Haggard’s public statements have proven without a doubt that he has committed sexually immoral conduct.
The language of our church bylaws state that as Overseers we must decide in cases where the Senior Pastor has “demonstrated immoral conduct” whether we must “remove the pastor from his position or to discipline him in any way they deem necessary.”
In consultation with leading evangelicals and experts familiar with the type of behavior Pastor Haggard has demonstrated, we have decided that the most positive and productive direction for our church is his dismissal and removal. In addition, the Overseers will continue to explore the depth of Pastor Haggard’s offense so that a plan of healing and restoration can begin.
Pastor Haggard and his wife have been informed of this decision. They have agreed as well that he should be dismissed and that a new pastor for New Life Church should be selected according to the rules of replacement in the bylaws.
That process will begin immediately in hopes that a new pastor can be confirmed by the end of the year 2006. In the interim, Ross Parsley will function as the leader of the church with full support of the Overseers.
A letter of explanation and apology by Pastor Haggard as well as a word of encouragement from Gayle Haggard will be read in the 9:00 and 11:00 service of New Life Church.
Those of us in the evangelical wing of the church can only mourn this latest revelation of misconduct. Not only must we all recognize our own proneness to even the grossest sin, but we must redouble our efforts to protect ourselves through vigilant availing ourselves of the manifold means of grace our loving Lord has given us for resisting sin. Rev. Haggard, his wife and children, the New Life congregation and his accuser all stand in the need of prayer . . . as do we all!
Thursday, November 02, 2006
By Rocky Mountain News November 2, 2006
COLORADO SPRINGS — The Rev. Ted Haggard stepped aside as senior pastor of the 14,000-member New Life Church and resigned today as president of the National Association of Evangelicals amid allegations by a former gay male escort that the two had a three-year sexual relationship.
The church issued a statement saying Haggard "could not continue to minister under the cloud created by the accusations made on Denver talk radio this morning." Haggard has said that the escort is lying.
The statement said he placed himself on administrative leave pending investigation, spiritual counsel, and a decision by the church’s board of overseers, which consists of four senior pastors of other congregations.
"I am voluntarily stepping aside from leadership so that the overseer process can be allowed to proceed with integrity," Haggard said in a statement.
The former escort made the allegations in a radio talk show. The accuser claimed that he was paid money by Haggard, who he says made nearly monthly trips to Denver for sexual liaisons, that he has recorded voicemails and a letter from Haggard, and that he had also witnessed Haggard use methamphetamine.
Haggard denied ever engaging in a gay relationship in his life. "I’ve never had a gay relationship with anybody, and I’m steady with my wife. I’m faithful to my wife."
Christianity Today cited Dr. James Dobson as among those outraged at the reporting of what he sees as a baseless rumor. "It is unconscionable that the legitimate news media would report a rumor like this based on nothing but one man’s accusation," said James Dobson of Focus on the Family, headquartered in Colorado Springs. "Ted Haggard is a friend of mine and it appears someone is trying to damage his reputation as a way of influencing the outcome of Tuesday’s election—especially the vote on Colorado’s marriage-protection amendment—which Ted strongly supports."
Evangelicals are sadly not immune to sin, even gross sin. But acts of hypocrisy strike at the core of public confidence. We can only pray that the accusations against Rev. Haggard prove untrue. And, Rev. Haggard, his wife, and five children all stand in need of all of our prayers in these painful days of testing.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Today, November 1, was the deadline given by the PSW regional board for a full, formal, and final separation from the ABCUSA. The aftershocks of the departure by the large and predominately traditional region will continue to reverberate for years to come.
But, losses on the right were not the only changes happening in the ABC today. Progressive leaders Margaret Cowden and Cheryl Wade announced their intentions to leave the employment of Valley Forge.
Dr. Margaret Ann Cowden, leaves after close to 30 years of ministry with American Baptist Churches USA, including National Ministries’ treasurer and chief financial officer. She plans to retire July 2007. Cowden completed programs at Columbia University’s Institute for Not-for-Profit Management in New York City and Harvard University’s Program for Management Development at its Graduate School of Business in Cambridge, Mass. Along with a Ph.D. in psychological studies from Temple University, Philadelphia, Pa., Cowden earned a master of divinity degree from American Baptist Seminary of the West, Covina, Calif., and a bachelor of arts degree from Linfield College, McMinnville, Ore.
Cowden, a strong voice for progressive causes, feminist advocacy, and justice issues, was a classmate of Dr. Aidsand Wright-Riggins, III, at ABSW when it had a Covina campus. “I do not know of a more committed, competent, and compassionate servant of Jesus Christ and this denomination than Dr. Cowden,” says Wright-Riggins about his colleague and former classmate.
In addition to her work in a variety of roles in MMBB, as president of the American Baptist Extension Corporation and at National Ministries, Cowden serves the denomination as a member of the General Executive Council, the Treasurer’s Council, the American Baptist Computer Center board of managers, and the board of the American Baptist Foundation. She also serves as a trustee of the Colgate Rochester Crozier Divinity School.
The second announcement of a departure from the left comes from the Office of the General Secretary. The Rev. Dr. Cheryl H. Wade, associate general secretary and treasurer of American Baptist Churches USA since January 1993, will resign those positions as of December 31, 2006, to become director of philanthropy for the Kendal Corporation and executive director of Kendal Charitable Funds.
Wade not only staffs the General Board Executive Committee and the Budget Review Committee, she serves on General Executive Council (the denomination's chief staff council) and its Executive Committee. She has also been noted for her singular efforts to help refocus the denomination's decision making process to "include significant time for 'Worshipful Work' and the pursuit of common ground and consensus."
As treasurer, Wade functions as chief financial officer for denomination, responsible for the collection, distribution and accounting for denomination-wide giving, is responsible for the operation of the American Baptist Churches USA Mission Center in Valley Forge, Pa., and chairs both the Building Management Council for that property and the Treasurers' Council at the national offices.
I have worked alongside Drs. Cowden and Wade in many denominational settings and have respected and been friendly with both of them. They are exceedingly intelligent, committed, sincere, and powerful persons. Both know how to be tough and tender; one would not want to stand up to either of them ill prepared or meet either of them in an alley unarmed.
Because of the key roles played by Margaret and Cheryl over several decades, they have had a greater opportunity to help shape the corporate culture of ABC and promote a specific agenda than all but a few other leaders. Whether you approve or disapprove of "Valley Forge," many of your opinions will depend upon what you think of the progressive agenda of Drs. Wade and Cowden.
Regular readers of His Barking Dog will remember the General Executive Council (aka GEC) as the power center at the heart of many of the debates in the ABC over the past several years. Contentious arguments over homosexuality, denominational structure, the new Budget Covenant, and more were all discussed, argued over, and processed in the GEC. And, Dr. Wade's signature quest of "consensus" often explained the outcomes of GEC meetings.
Their departures will leave gaping holes in the machine. Both Roy and Aidsand will have signal opportunities to further the alienation that resulted in the loss of the southwest or appoint evangelicals able to help reassure traditionalists in the constituency.
November 1, 2006 brings with it one loss on the right and two on the left. What Roy and Ace do next will help determine how many more losses and how many more Novembers remain.
[His Barking Dog was home working on a sermon for his daughter's wedding next week when news came about Drs. Cowden and Wade. Today's barking emerges from my own doghouse alone and is unrelated to the rest of the kennel in the southwest.]
(http://www.episcopalchurch.org/3577_79154_ENG_HTM.htm). While this would in itself represent a signal newsworthy event, some of her beliefs, as reported in an AP interview today (http://www.cbn.com/CBNnews/49727.aspx) raise eyebrows and remind readers of His Barking Dog why the mainline has become the sideline and is well on the path of becoming a flatline.
Evidently Bishop Katharine Jeferts-Schori said to the interviewer, "If we insist that we know the one way to God, we've put God in a very small box." The Bible declares that "in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form." But Jefferts-Schori says she doesn't believe that "one person can have the fullness of truth in him or herself."Instead, she says, "Truth is, like God, more than any one person can encompass."
I guess this is the reason why a full eight Episcopal dioceses have asked Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who heads the world Anglican Communion, to put them under a leader other than Bishop Jefferts-Schori.