Thursday, October 06, 2005

American Baptist Exodus

It saddens me to share this information, but in order for me to ask you to pray you need to know a bit of our struggle. Our denomination (The American Baptist Churches, USA) is finally starting to splinter and collapse. I didn't want to see it happen, but I must stand with Biblical Authority and side with the Pacific Southwest Region, which is pulling away from the ABC.

Here's a bit of the press release at (see link below):
The Pacific Southwest region of the American Baptist Churches USA (ABCUSA) has begun defecting in the largest church exodus from any denomination over the presenting issue of homosexuality. Underlying issues, according to leaders, include the authority of Scripture and church discipline....

The ABCUSA officially states that "the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching." However, gay-affirming congregations remain affiliated with the denomination. When conservative regions have disfellowshiped such congregations, those congregations have simply affiliated with a more liberal ABCUSA region.
Why this is a sad time for me is that I helped form a renewal movement in the ABC 13 years ago. We've met, we've implored, we've tried to implement change. But we've not fulfilled our mission. We suspected that one day we would see the demise of our denomination. And now, that day is upon us.

Continue to pray for the many, many evangelical churches in the ABC that remain faithful to the Gospel but are confused about the underlying issues. Some denominational leaders paint this as an issue of power and divisiveness, wheras it truly is a matter of scriptural authority. Will we remain faithful to the whole counsel of God or not?


Anonymous said...

A mutual friend of yours and mine went through the same kind of split - leaving the Episcopal Church of America for the AMIA. God will bless those who stand obedient to His Word!

Anonymous said...

It is sad; I feel the same tensions. It seems the 2 factions cannot peacefully coexist. One side cries out for biblical authority and church integrity; the other grips church autonomy and soul liberty alongside with understandings of biblical errancy. If they stay together, neither wins as neither give to the associational cause. I feel bad for folks in the middle with whom none of these issues are on their radar. On 4-29-06 PSW churches (S.CA; NV; AZ; HI; UT) voice withdrawal or not from the ABC. It seems there are 3 options for the churches:
1) Stay w/the ABC and form a new association.
2) Be dually aligned w/ the ABC and PSW (or new PSW denominationalish entity)
3) If and when the PSW breaks from the ABC, break w/it.

I always thought 2 denominations would be more effective than one (both a liberal and conservative one--"religion a la carte"). My hope is none of the above. Maybe God's Holy Spirit will move the General Board members to bring true peace and leadership to the 2 factions. At this point their leadership styles seem only fuel for the fire.
Until then, I pray.