Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Would Like Like Whine With That?

Here's how the AWAB website reported on the recent Mid-American churches conference. Notice how painful it is when commoners rise up like Baptists to express themselves. Doesn't the underclass know its place? Particularly whiney sections are bolded.

Difficult and Painful Experience at Mid-American Baptist Churches Regional Meeting

Reported by Doug Donley, Pastor – University Baptist Church (AWAB), Minneapolis, MN

The Annual Gathering of the Mid-American Baptist Churches in Harlan, Iowa was a difficult and painful experience. The events of the weekend did not live up to the title of the program "Building up the Body of Christ". There were fine workshops led by our own Don Dresser on the situation in Nicaragua. I attended a workshop on the concerted efforts we do on behalf of those displaced and traumatized by Hurricane Katrina. But by far, the focal point was the votes on who would lead our region in the future and how we would deal with gay men and lesbians in our midst (bisexual and transgender folk aren't even on the radar screen).

The Board of Region Ministries proposed a resolution to continue dialogue on issues of human sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular. Included in this resolution was a recommendation to not recognize the ordinations of openly gay and lesbian people at this time. At most Regional meetings there are maybe 100 voting delegates. This time, there were over 200, most of whom had never attended any regional function. The resolution was amended to add the sentence, "We affirm the 1992 American Baptist Resolution which states, "The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching." They also amended the resolution to take out the words "at this time" regarding the denial of recognition of gay and lesbian pastors. This amendment was passed by a vote of 151-51-2. Another amendment was offered to recognize Lynn Welton’s and Ross Aalgaard’s ordinations, since they had followed all of the rules in place at the time. This amendment was defeated 37-159-7. The final resolution was passed by a vote of 143-53-2 (the text is reprinted below).

Jean Lubke, Jim Moravek, Don Dresser and others made articulate, impassioned pleas. Jean Lubke's powerful statement equating gay and lesbian folk to previous discrimination against African Americans and women was shouted down repeatedly before the President of the Region intervened. The exclusionist group also presented their own slate of officers who were easily voted into office, above those selected by the Nominating Committee who worked heard to get a balance of gender, experience, location, clergy/lay, rural/urban, even theological perspective. The urban folk were voted out in favor of rural folk. All of the women were voted out of office except one, including Nadean Bishop. The moderates to progressives were voted out in favor of largely white male pastors. It was a sad day. As I left the church, one person said to me, "Shame on you for bringing this in to my church."

It felt abusive. I feel angry, sad, frustrated and ashamed of the ways my sisters and brothers acted on Saturday. I felt shunned and I felt that our church's ministry was marginalized in the minds of many. I had the opportunity to speak with one of the pastors who led the rally against the GLBT community after the vote. I told him that he now has a responsibility to set the tone as one of inclusion and respect going forward. I told him the ball is in his court to make this organization truly Christian and just. More than one of us wondered what would happen if we got this many delegates to address issues of poverty. We now need to decide what we will do in the aftermath of these decisions. We need to never forsake our GLBT sisters and brothers. We need to always look to Jesus for inspiration for our ministry. We need to continue the long-term hard work of reconciliation. We need to make sure that all of this does not become our only focus. There is so much ministry to do. Please pray for our region and for all of those bruised and bleeding as a result of the actions by the majority of the delegates at the meeting in Harlan.

Here's the text of the amended resolution passed by the Region in Harlan, Iowa, on October 22:

Whereas the 1992 resolution on homosexuality is held in tension with the 1993 American Baptist Resolution Calling for Dialogue on Human Sexuality.

Whereas we as Mid-American Baptist Church's recognize that we are not of one mind in matters pertaining to human sexuality.

Whereas there is a wide spectrum of Biblical and theological views represented within our region and within our churches.

Whereas many churches may want the opportunity to continue to dialogue as called for in the 1993 American Baptist Resolution calling for Dialogue on Human Sexuality.Therefore we as Mid-American Baptist Churches affirm the 1992 Resolution on homosexuality, "Homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching" call upon individuals and churches to stay open to dialogue and to continue to implement the 1993 American Baptist Resolution Calling for Dialogue on Human Sexuality. Therefore we will not recognize the ordinations of openly gay and lesbian persons.

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