Monday, September 19, 2005
THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK: PSW CHURCHES WILL HAVE TO ACT INDIVUDUALLY TO EXIT ABC/USA
In an effort to slow and blunt the actions taken by PSW, this was released today. Absurdities are bolded.
American Baptist News Service (9/19/2005)
—The American Baptist Churches USA General Board Executive Committee, meeting September 16-17, 2005 in Atlanta, issued the following statement:
We grieve and are profoundly saddened by the decision of the Board of Directors of the American Baptist Churches of the Pacific Southwest (PSW) "to initiate the process to withdraw from the Covenant of Relationships." This decision will separate the region from the American Baptist family and our mission if the region completes its action.
Although much of our attention is focused on responding to the greatest natural disaster in U.S. history, Hurricane Katrina, by mobilizing work teams, transporting relief supplies, and engaging in triage relocation efforts, we are concerned by the serious implications of the PSW Board's action.
Contrary to published reports, ABCUSA does have policy statements and resolutions related to homosexuality. Our Family Life Policy Statement (1984) states, "We affirm that God intends marriage to be a monogamous, life-long, one flesh union of a woman and a man....We affirm God's blessing and active presence in marriage relationships..." In 1992 the General Board adopted this statement: "We affirm that the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching."
In 1993 the General Board called for continuing dialogue on issues of human sexuality. In June 1998, the General Board reaffirmed the prior actions and rewrote the "We are American Baptists" statement to more strongly affirm the importance of Biblical authority. All of these policy statements and resolutions remain in effect.
The General Board, however, does not set policy for local congregations on theological or other issues. We are not hierarchical or episcopal because we are a denominational family related by a series of voluntary covenantal relationships among autonomous congregations to partner together in mission.
Nothing in our structure allows us to dictate theological interpretations. That authority rests solely with local congregations and individual American Baptists. We are not and do not seek to be a legislative body since we respect the autonomy and primacy of the local church.
[The most intolerant people I've known are New Agers and Unitarians. Particularity of beliefs cannot be tolerated. You make the application.]
The General Board Executive Committee is taking the following actions on this issue:
- Working with the Office of the General Secretary (OGS) to send a letter to PSW churches explaining that their congregational affiliation with ABCUSA will remain in effect despite the separation of the PSW region from the Covenant of Relationships. Individual churches in PSW can disaffiliate with ABCUSA only through a separate congregational vote.
[Comment: Valley Forge to PSW churches: "We own you. You just don't know it."]
- Working with the OGS to set up meetings in the Pacific Southwest to inform congregations about how they may continue to partner with the mission and ministry of American Baptist Churches USA as full member congregations while also informing them of the implications of leaving the American Baptist family.
- Working with congregations to determine future American Baptist regional affiliations.
- Working with OGS, Program Boards, MMBB, and other American Baptist organizations to explore the full ramifications and consequences of the PSW Board's decision to withdraw.
We pray for God's guidance and unity within the family for our congregations, regions, and national boards. We reaffirm the strong leadership of General Secretary Roy Medley, President Peggy Johnson, Vice President Arlee Griffin, and our national staff. We also pledge to remain focused on implementing the exciting vision that God has given American Baptist Churches as reflected in the Mission Statement recently adopted by the General Board:
"American Baptists are a Christ-centered, biblically grounded, ethnically diverse people called to radical personal discipleship in Christ Jesus. Our commitment to Jesus propels us to nurture authentic relationships with one another, build healthy churches, transform our communities, our nation, and our world, engage every member in hands-on ministry, and speak the prophetic word in love....
Our vision for mission energizes a multitude of servant ministries of evangelism, discipleship, leadership, new church development, social justice, healing, peacemaking, economic development, and education. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we work together in mutual trust, humility, love, and giving that the gospel might be preached and lived in all the world."
We strongly believe that now is the time for unity and mission.