Thursday, May 24, 2007

Medley Moves to Restructure Ecumenical Office

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 05/23/07) -- General Secretary, A. Roy Medley, announced today a future restructuring of the ecumenical office of the denomination. The restructuring will draw more upon the Committee on Christian Unity of the denomination and other leaders in fulfilling ABCUSA’s ongoing commitment to dialogue and cooperation with other Christian communions and organizations.

As a result of the restructuring, the Rev. Rothang Chhangte will leave her position on September 4, 2007. She will continue to represent American Baptists on the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches. Rev. Medley said, “This is a critical position to which Rothang was elected last year. As American Baptists it gives us an opportunity to continue to shape the future of this ecumenical organization, especially as it seeks to each out to evangelicals and Pentecostals. Rothang has distinguished herself by her contributions to the WCC Decade to Overcome Violence, and her work in interfaith relations.”

During her tenure Rothang has been instrumental in:

The formation of the WCC US Young Adult Task force
Service on the Interim Steering Committee of Christian Churches Together that brought together Mainline Protestants, Evangelicals, Pentecostals, historic African-American churches and the Roman Catholic Church
Renewing and building closer ties with Church of the Brethren
Giving leadership to the formulation of ABC Policy Statement on Interreligious Prejudice

Speaking of her service, Rothang said, "I am grateful for the opportunity to have served as your American Baptist representative at ecumenical gatherings and meetings. I thank God for the opportunity to work towards building reconciliation and healing in God's oikumene, household. It has been a spiritually enriching journey for me. The prayer of Jesus in John 17 that "all may be one so that the world might know and believe," has become an ever more urgent calling in my life. I look to forward to discovering new ways of living this prayer in my life."

The Rev. Jerrod Hugenot, chair of the General Board Committee on Christian Unity, has said of Rothang, "Deep ecumenical relationships are formed by grace and openness. Rev. Chhangte models these values well in her faith and ministry. We are grateful for her work representing and articulating the American Baptist voice within ecumenical, intra-Baptist, and interfaith councils, forums, and other gatherings which promote religion as a source of hope and common good rather than exclusion and schism."

In the restructuring, Ms. Iris Cobb will provide administrative assistance to Dr. Medley and the Committee on Christian Unity. Iris has extensive experience in this role from her previous work with the Rev. Dr. Cheryl Wade, who served on ABCUSA’s team of Ecumenical Officers.

ABCUSA’s ecumenical relations include the Baptist World Alliance, the National Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, the National Association of Evangelicals, and most recently, Christian Churches Together.

Having served on committees with Rothang over the years, I know her as a diligent and pleasant person. During her tenure as the chief ecumenical officer for the ABC she won plaudits from the left for her advocacy of causes dear to the more ecumenical wing of the denomination and criticism from some conservatives. A few traditionalists have suggested that they were dissatisfied with answers she gave to their questioning of her remarks quoted in an IRD publication regarding evangelicals and the issue of salvation through Christ alone. My guess is that as in the case of many Valley Forge staff reductions, money has been a major factor.

Blessings on your new endeavors, Rothang!

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