Friday, February 10, 2006
One PSW Church: Keeping the Flock Informed
The following is the text of an insert in the Worship Folder for the First Baptist Church of Temple City, February 12, 2006:
What you need to know about developments among American Baptists
Last year, our region, the American Baptist Churches of the Pacific Southwest, began a process of separation from the national body, the American Baptist Church, USA. This was the result of increasing gap in values and theology between our region and the national body. The presenting issue was the acceptability of homosexuality as a valid Christian way of life, but the deeper issue is the authority of Scripture, even in areas of which clash with modern ideas, lifestyles and preferences.
This has been a painful process. Our region and our church have had a long and generally positive relationship with the American Baptist family. We do not take these matters lightly. We also are aware that there have been some positive developments in the ABC/USA. It seemed to many of us that the period in the late 1980s through the mid-1990s was the beginning of a denomination-wide renewal. That was a short-lived hope.
Today’s leadership of the ABC/USA has turned hostile toward dissenting voices. At the 2005 Biennial Meeting in Denver, speaker after speaker attacked and ridiculed the evangelical majority of the ABC family. Those working for Biblical renewal were attacked by name by some speakers.
Sensing the increasing tensions between our Region and the national body, our Executive Minister, Dr. Dale Salico began seeking an accommodation with the national body only to be told again and again that no middle ground was available—that PSW could either be in the covenant of relations with ABCUSA, or could leave. Later, it became clear that a middle ground was available, such as that enjoyed by the District of Columbia Baptist Convention. ABCUSA made no effort to accommodate the concerns of PSW churches.
This was very clear at a meeting held in September in Covina. Dr. Roy Medley, General Secretary of ABCUSA came to an open meeting of pastors and church leaders. That meeting offered no accommodation. Instead, Dr. Medley communicated that if some American Baptists wanted to have a “welcoming and affirming” stance toward active unrepentant homosexuals, there was nothing he or anyone else could do about it.
Our church and our region have no hostilities toward homosexual persons. However, we are bound by the clear teaching of God’s word that homosexual behavior is self-destructive behavior and that those so afflicted can be made free by the power of Christ’s redeeming love (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
On April 29, delegates from churches across the Region will gather at First Baptist of Pomona and several other locations (in Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii). The purpose is to receive the counsel of the churches in the form of a vote. Our church has been allotted 12 delegates. Then, upon receiving that vote, the Board of the Region alone has legal authority to take final action. If the vote is in favoring of the Board recommendation, the Region will withdraw from the covenant with ABCUSA. Then each individual church in the PSW Region must take their own vote on remaining part of ABCUSA or withdrawing.
We will continue to keep you informed. Pastor Glenn’s blog, http://www.durabledata.blogspot.com/ is a helpful source of information. So is the region’s website, http://www.abcpsw.com/. We will keep you informed.
On behalf of the Pastoral Staff, Pastor Glenn