Yes, I know--one more on the Code of Ethics. This email from Dale Salico to Roy Donkin was passed on to me by Ross Chenot (ABPSW Church Resource Minister) with Dale Salico's permission. As usual, Dale says it better than just about anyone.
I strongly disagree with your interpretation of the application of the code of ethics to the issues before the PSW. First, as I said in the FAQ, the operative document is the Covenant of Relationships, which envisioned the possibility of covenanting partners leaving the covenant, and which set a low level of corporate action required for such action (simple majority of the Board at any regular Board meeting). Nothing in the Covenant of Relationships remotely hints that should a Region take such action, every church should be stripped of its pastoral leadership.
Secondly, if I were to concede that the code of ethics applied to our situation (which I do not), I would be forced to conclude that the Code of Ethics established an almost diabolically dysfunctional denomination. Your interpretation would mean that any time a church decided to withdraw, it should lose its pastoral leadership. The denomination would be saying in effect, "We'll keep you loyal by stripping your leadership away if you choose to exercise your prerogative to leave." If this is the denomination's method of holding churches within it, it is guaranteed dysfunctionality.
Thirdly, you miss the point that the pressure for this action is coming from the congregations, and it is not because pastors have convinced the congregations that such action is needed. Many congregations have been pressuring pastors and the Region in this direction for far longer than I have been in the PSW. This is what the decline in missions giving (particularly UM) has been all about. The refusal of Valley Forge to listen to the meaning of declining UM has been due to deep corporate denial.
Fourth, what does "advocate for leaving the denomination" mean? Presenting the unvarnished facts to church leadership and entering a time of spiritual discernment that is going on across an entire Region is not to be equated with the "Lone Ranger" behavior envisioned in the Code of Ethics. If it were, the Code of Ethics would be outlawing the exercise of spiritual discernment unless it could be guaranteed in advance that the Holy Spirit will only guide in favor of the ABC. Is the Holy Spirit an American Baptist?
What is happening in the PSW is something far broader and deeper than anything envisioned by the Code of Ethics. I do not know what the final result will be of this time of discernment. But I am trusting the sovereignty of God, and I intend to remain on the post to which the Lord called me until the Lord makes it clear He is calling me elsewhere.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts on this. I have appreciated and continue to appreciate your spirit.