Tears literally welled up in my eyes as I read how National Ministries is using Native American churches in Arizona as pawns in the impasse with the Pacific Southwest Churches. Our church has a long association with one of these churches, and I know how difficult that ministry is. Read and weep with me, these reports from the message board of www.abeonline.org:
Actually, another hardball tactic I find equally disturbing but unposted in my account yesterday, was a comment made by one of the pastors working with Native Americans (which I have been unable to verify independently). During the Q&A, he added that National Ministries has also threatened to enforce reversionary clauses on the Native American congregations, taking their property away!!! With obvious emotion in his voice he spoke of the threats to cut off salary support as soon as the end of the year (even though PSW congregations will not even vote on withdrawal until March of 2006 at the earliest due to ByLaws requirements) and kick them out of their churches!!!
Interestingly, Dr. Medley insists that no matter what PSW does, local congregations are still affiliated with ABCUSA UNLESS they take individual congregational votes. However, if you are a poor Native American congregation, I guess (???) different rules apply. IFF this report is true (and we heard the same story from multiple sources in our Arizona Native American community), isn't it fascinating that the upholders of justice for all minorities are willing to bully and threaten the least and the last among us in order to strike back at PSW?
Additionally, we were asked by Brian Scrivens, a layman who serves as our regional President, to pray for communications between the region and Valley Forge. He indicated from the platform that his letters to Valley Forge have not been responded to, nor have the letters, e-mails, and telephone calls from Dr. Salico to Valley Forge.
About the only bright spot in all of this relates to the reactions by MMBB and BIM. MMBB assures Salico that PSW pastors will continue to receive their contractual benefits and that they are still considering what to do about the non-contractual benefits. Charles Jones, interim ED of BIM, also indicated his desire to continue in mission partnership with PSW. Of course, readers should know that PSW leads the denomination in money sent to BIM. Salico, somewhat puckishly, informed the assembly yesterday that with regard to our givnig to BIM, "We're number one!"
Dennis E. McFadden
Dennis: this "hardball tactic" by ABCUSA with the Native American Churches could well be made to turn around and bite them in the posterior. Think about it: while the "white churches" may well be able to pull away from ABCUSA with little to no consequences, the ABCUSA is threatening to use MINORITY CHURCHES as leverage against PSW! "Maybe if we threaten the Indians, Salico et al will back off!" So really here's ABCUSA, using Native Americans as hostages to attempt to manipulate PSW! Doesn't this objectify, demean and discriminate against minorities? Since they have had funding from NM, they can hold them prisoner--they have them where they want them! How patriarchal! Whatever happened to the vaunted diversity of ABCUSA? Perhaps we see the true colors showing forth!
Pastor Scott A. Jones
FBC, Webster City, IA
In light of the hardball tactics being directed against Native Americans by VF, Dr. Salico challenged us to increase our giving to make up the support being threatened by VF. His suggestion was met with thunderous applause.
Question for all of you on the fence: what does this tell you about (a) the character of the people involved, especially at the highest levels of National Ministries and (b) the genuine commitment to the ministry of Christ in Pacific Southwest Churches?