Sunday, January 01, 2006
An Open Letter to Baptist Christians in America
My dear brothers and sisters:
As 2006 dawns, it is clear that this will be a year bringing massive changes to the existing American Baptist Churches USA. In late April, the ABC of the Pacific Southwest will almost certainly vote to sever ties from the ABCUSA. At the same time, the renewal group American Baptist Evangelicals is in the process of reformulating itself into an viable umbrella organization for American Baptists who are dissaffected by conviction from the Valley Forge leadership--or, to say it more pointedly, from the lack of Biblically grounded leadership from Valley Forge.
The American Baptist Churches, USA, as a organization is in slow collaspe. They do not recognize it. They believe that they can muddle on without major reformation. That is an illusion.
Regions are becoming more independant of and less subservient to the national organization. The ABC of Michigan, very much a centralist region (in terms of theological temper) actually proposed that the Office of the General Secretary be abolished, which would basically put the ABC back into the organizational shape it had over 100 years ago. This proposal has been rebuffed. In terms of organization, the Valley Forge establishment is very, very conservative.
The ABC of the West is so dissaffected from ABCUSA that as of today it is known by the parachurch-sounding name Growing Healthy Churches. Other signs of distance and regional assertion can be seen across the country.
We are on the edge. Looking back, we see a denomination in slow free-fall. But looking ahead we see a new opportunity.
This year, as the PSW departs the ABC, other regions may well be emboldened to act. Messages I have receieved from all across the nation bear witness that several other regions may well follow PSWs lead.
In other areas, in regions who walk in loyalty to Valley Forge, there are many churches who will no longer be able to remain apart of the region or of ABCUSA with a good conscience. They are leaving now, not with unfurled flags, but in sorrow and with a detemination to continue on in mission.
A new movement is being formed. It will be stoutly evangelical. It will be Christ-centered, not denomination-centered. It will be missional, not a bureaucratic.
2006 is your year. Join us mission, in faith, in fellowship and in making a new day. Join us in reaching millions of lost Americans who need to hear the good news of Jesus. Join us in reaching millions more across the globe. Join us in a clear conscious, the end of compromise, the end of having to apologize for the shameful equivocations that are the common parlance of Valley Forge.
Be much in prayer. A new day dawns. Be done with the night.
This is the day which the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
I speak in no official capacity; I speak for no one except myself.