Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Still Answering the Same Questions

A letter from a couple who moved away a number of years ago including the question--just what is this Transformation Ministries? Is FBC Temple City still an American Baptist Church? This was my email answer:

Dear (Mr.) and (Mrs):

K. A., our office manager, shared your letter with me. Thank you for your donation. We are delighted to send you The Tower [our newsletter]. If you wish, The Tower can now be sent to you via email.

Regarding Transformation Ministries, TransMin is the continuation of the Southern California Baptist Convention and the American Baptist Churches of thePacific Southwest. In April, 2006, delegates at a specially called meeting of ABCPSW voted by a 4 to 1 margin to disaffiliate from American Baptist Churches USA. Our church supported that decision (by a 6 to 1 margin), so as of Nov. 1, 2006, we were no longer affiliatedwith the ABCUSA.

This decision was not made lightly. Valley Forge for years has pursued a policy of compromise with the world in matters of moral values, all done in the name of "soul liberty." We along with the region came to the conclusion that that constituted an inversion of values, and that Biblical authority must hold a higher place in our values than soul liberty.

We are free to more boldly proclaim Christ--and Christ alone, not a denomiantion! We remain a cooperative church--now, through TransMin, and through the National Association of Evangelicals. May God bless you,

Dr. Glenn Layne
Senior Pastor
First Baptist Church of Temple City

PS: Seeing the monstrosity of meeting with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in DC in June, I am more than ever convinced this was the right move.


Dennis E. McFadden said...

Monstrosity? Reading all of the hagiographic reports over on BaptistLife.Com, I thought the meeting between the CBF and ABC was like unto the Second Coming.

hawkeyemonk said...

It was like most Biennial meetings: worship interuptus, followed by political correctness, all being carefully read from a script.

It was so wonderful to learn that the reason these baptists got to work together was not beause of a revelation from God about the importance for Christians to work together to expand the Kingdom of God, but because Pastors needed insurance and retirement benefits.

Sorry, my sarcasm escaped before I could stop it....

BLM said...

Hi Glenn,

I'm wondering a bit about the flow of information to your congregants leading up to the 6 to 1 vote. Did you find that most of your members were well-read in the history of the whole process on their own, or did you find yourself having to be the broker of all the goings-on?

In my conversations with Dennis, I've come away with the strong feeling that the big issues were what many viewed as a perpetual breach of trust by VF when it came to the praxis of the denomination's statements on homosexuality, namely that VF continued to hire openly gay persons to national positions. Curious if that was the tipping point in your eyes as well.

Also, I'm curious as to what makes you sure that the meeting with the CBF was a monstrosity? And Dennis, I know you're being facetious, but do you think the positive coverage of the event was exaggeration? Of course, that's not to say that all the positive coverage was tantamount to false witness, but isn't it possible that it actually was a wonderful and holy experience.

regards to you both,


Dennis E. McFadden said...


No offense taken. You are one of the most gracious and fair bloggers around the Net.

Leading up to the vote in Pomona (and a number of satellite gatherings) included something like ten Q&A sessions in various parts of the region. The one I attended was exceedingly well attended (400+???), including LOTS of lay leaders and only a few clergy.

Dale Salico, an incrementalist if there ever was one, made a full presentation of what had led to the recommendation by the board to call for withdrawal. It was obvious that he was there to promote the recommendation by the board; however, he went through a slavishly long amount of citing the words of Dr. Medley and others. Dale was not only fair, he was charitable. In some cases where I had first hand information of what principals had said, Dale soft soaped anything that cast VF in a negative light. In other words, his sense of fair play seemed to compel him to bend over backwards in deference to more progressive voices in the ABC.

Following his presentation was a very long (in my opinion anyhow) time of Q&A. Again, it allowed for questions, statements, and (in a couple of cases) mini-speeches. Lay people were fully participating in this process. Indeed, some of the more prominent clergy said nothing.

This process was repeated about ten times throughout the region.

Later on, churches sent delegates to the voting in Pomona (and in the satellite locations) based on formulas dealing with size, giving, etc. We had something like 1,800 delegates, most of them lay persons.

Frankly, on both sides, the gatekeepers were the ministers. I know of congregations of 5,000 people where the pastor hardly mentioned the issue at all. One of the strongest proponents of withdrawal (worship attendance of 2,500) did not even bother to send a single delegate to vote lest it "distract his congregation from their mission with secondary issues." Although the pro ABC side came out in force, not wanting to be railroaded out of the denomination, the final tally was around 84% (if memory serves me) with several of the larger congregations in favor of withdrawal not present or voting at all.

BLM, it was a weird time to be a Baptist. One of our larger congregations (worship attendance between 2,500-3,000) held a congregational meeting and it resulted in a 100% withdrawal vote. I am part of a congregation (approx. 350 attendance) with 45% Asians, 35% Hispanics, LOTS of retired ABC missionaries and ministers. Our vote was 99% in favor of withdrawal (I remember it as a secret ballot). Durable Data's congregation went 85% in favor of withdrawal.

A couple of quibbles:

1. I have known closeted gay persons to work for VF, but never an openly gay one. My comments were about national offices, GB positions, pro-gay leadership in sponsored things, etc., NOT paid staff.

2. I winced when my friend, Glenn, used the word "monstrosity" for an event that neither of us attended. Having only read the hagiographic reports on a primarily progressive/moderate forum, it seemed like an incredible jump from that to Glenn's "monstrosity." Frankly, I just thought it was funny to hear such OPPOSITE evaluations of the same event, hence my tongue in cheek reference. Honestly, BLM, I meant nothing more than that.

BLM said...

Hi Dennis,

Hi Dennis,

thanks, as always, for the detailed, candid and helpful rundown! And also for your gracious words.

Thanks also for clearing up some of what I was murky on. And no worries, I knew you didn't mean anything snarky (still love that word!) by your tongue in cheek reference =)

Dennis E. McFadden said...


BTW, one of my favorite American Baptists worked at the head of an important area in VF for six years before coming out of the closet and returning to the pastorate. He resigned from the VF gig as part of his coming out. He has been a very good friend to me. He even invited me to his wedding to his life partner last year.