Late Monday evening, the following email was sent to the PSW constituency, obviusly timed to coincide with the Valley Forge executves "hat in hand" tour of the region, as the hope to deflate the steamroller solidarity of the PSW region regarding separation from ABC-USA.
Questions & Answers About ABCPSW and ABCUSA, #5
Dale V. Salico
1. Am I to understand that the ABCUSA is accepting homosexuality and allowing homosexuals into leadership both in individual churches, as well as regional and national roles?
The answer is that the ABCUSA places a high value on the autonomy (self-governing) of the local church and soul liberty (which they define as the right of every individual to interpret the Scriptures under the guidance of the Holy Spirit as they believe correct). Therefore, while the majority of American Baptists believe homosexual relationships are sinful, according to Scripture, the ABCUSA upholds the right of the minority to disagree and still fully participate in the life and leadership of the denomination. That is why there are some individuals who are open about their homosexual practice while serving as pastors in American Baptist churches. Some of these individuals serve in leadership roles in Regions and on boards, committees and commissions of the ABCUSA.
The ABCUSA Resolution on Homosexuality states, “The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” For twenty years, many American Baptists leaders, including myself, have called for implementation of the resolution in order to prohibit persons involved in or condoning sexual behavior identified in the Bible as sinful from serving in positions of national leadership, such as the Ministers Council Senate, the General Board, national committees and commissions, and platform leadership at ABCUSA events. The ABCUSA, however, has rejected such restrictions, viewing them as denials of local church autonomy and soul liberty.
Without meaningful implementation, the ABCUSA Resolution on Homosexuality appears to be nothing more than words on a piece of paper. We believe that while churches should be autonomous there must be accountability for a commitment to Biblical authority and practice if we are to work together in mission.
The ABCPSW has a thorough policy on human sexuality that has been implemented. To read this policy on our website, go to: http://www.webmedleysb.com/media/media-76548.doc.
2) "Why is the leadership of ABCUSA not required to listen to, and respond in a positive manner toward the issues that over half of the churches consider critical?"
When I was on the Commission on Denominational Unity during the 90's we conducted a study showing that well over 50% of the churches agreed with the ABCUSA Resolution on Homosexuality. However, agreeing with a statement and agreeing on how to implement policy in the denomination are two different issues. What some would view as appropriate implementation, others view as "too much," and still others see as "too little!"
Furthermore, there are well known leaders, such as Dr. Medley, who strongly and eloquently contend that any implementation of the Resolution on Homosexuality is "unbaptistic," because it would limit the autonomy of the local church or "soul liberty."
A third factor is that many, who agree intellectually with the policy statement on homosexuality, live by the credo, "Don't rock the boat!" They are adverse to doing anything that upsets or angers others. Therefore, they remain quiet about their convictions.
The ABCPSW Board of Directors had the courage to "rock the boat" over the inconsistency between denominational words and deeds regarding homosexuality. The great majority of the churches in our Region are standing with the Board. Because of our united voice, we are being heard. We do not yet know for certain what the future will be, but we know the future will be different because we are standing together.
3) Why are the Executive Directors of International Ministries, National Ministries and MMBB, along with the ABCUSA General Secretary, Dr. Roy Medley, holding meetings in the ABCPSW with pastors and church leaders November 7-8?
Dr. Medley states that these meetings are for churches that want to remain in the ABCUSA even if the ABCPSW withdraws from the Covenant of Relationships. He has also indicated that this may be done either by a church withdrawing from the ABCUSA and joining another Region, OR by a church being dually aligned with the ABCUSA and the ABCPSW. In the meeting, Dr. Medley will share more about this. The Executive Directors of the Program Boards will discuss how their mission agencies will relate to churches.
Dr. Medley has made it clear that the purpose of these meetings is neither to debate the merits of the actions of the ABCPSW Board of Directors nor to debate the issue of homosexuality.
4) Has Dr. Salico tried to work within ABCUSA to bring about change?
The issue of homosexuality has been the subject of sharp debate in the ABC for about 20 years. Long before he came to the ABCPSW, he was working to strengthen commitment to Biblical Authority in the ABC and maintain denominational unity through...
· National Ministries Grow By Caring Task force member and writer.
· ABCUSA Commission on Denominational Unity.
· Common Ground Conference Leader.
· Many calls to pastors urging them to stay in the ABC.
· ABCUSA General Board & and Board of International Ministries.
· Called to PSW as Executive Minister to cast vision, uphold Biblical convictions and maintain unity with the ABCUSA.
· Writing committee for new ABCUSA Budget Covenant
· Consistently advocated for implementation of Resolution on Homosexuality while maintaining unity.
· Written letters and position papers regarding these issues.
Questions & Answers About ABCPSW and ABCUSA, #6
Dale V. Salico
Our Church will likely withdraw from the ABCUSA if the ABCPSW withdraws from the Covenant of Relationships. What are the possible legal implications of leaving the ABCUSA?
Churches should review the documents that may define their relationship with the ABCUSA and/or the ABCPSW. These include:
Articles of Incorporation.
Church Bylaws or Constitutions.
Other documents that deal with the operation and governance of the church.
There are numerous situations in which a church’s relationship with the ABCUSA and/or the ABCPSW is pivotal to a property or financial transaction. Often legal documents state that a loan or actual ownership of a property is conditioned on the church continuing in affiliation with the ABCUSA. For this reason, we recommend that churches review documents for reference to the ABCUSA including:
a) Loan Agreements and Promissory notes, including loans from ABCPSW, the ABCUSA, another ABC congregation or the American Baptist Extension Corporation.
b) Trust Deeds
c) Deeds and related title documents
d) Property Trust Agreements
f) Property use agreements
g) Church or pastor support agreements
h) Employment agreements
i) Property purchase agreements or option to purchase agreements
j) Personal property trust agreements (for example, gifts of cash or property in a special fund or trust for the support of a church program)
In addition, churches may have entered into gift annuities, charitable remainder or charitable lead trusts, or similar arrangements with church members providing for payments. These should be reviewed to ascertain whether there are terms or conditions requiring affiliation with the ABCUSA.
This is not an exhaustive list, but one intended to encourage you to review potentially important documents before taking actions. All documents that refer to the relationship between a church and the ABCUSA and/or the ABCPSW should be reviewed for their effect on both parties, and to determine steps that should be taken to avoid problems.
If your review brings to light a situation that may be impacted by your church’s decision, we urge you to consult with legal counsel for guidance on steps you should take to resolve the situation.
In addition to a church’s own records and archives, copies or originals of many church legal documents are on file at the ABCPSW Church Resource Center.