Fall 2013 meeting to be held in conjunction with National Assn of Evangelicals mtg

The NAE is meeting in Indianapolis, Oct 17th. In an effort to expand the potential list of people who might participate in the ACR meeting and in an effort to expose ourselves to what others of like mind are doing, the leadership team of ACR has determined to hold the fall meeting of ACR on Friday, October 18 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the same location as the NAE meeting. If you would like to attend the NAE meeting as an observer, send a personal email requesting such to Roy Taylor at rtaylor@pcanet.org.

Specific information about meeting location and hotel accommodations will be forthcoming. This post is designed to allow sufficient time to adjust calendars and make travel plans.

(FYI: The Ecumenical Leadership Summit steering committee will also meet that week, prior to the NAE meeting. Their meeting is for the steering committee only and is not a large, open meeting.)

ACR meeting March 11-12 2013

The next ACR meeting will begin at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, March 11 and conclude by noon on March 12. The Holiday Inn Rosslyn is not available those days so the meeting will be at:

Comfort Inn Pentagon City

2480 South Glebe Road

Arlington VA 22206

703-682-5500

Notes from the Spring 2012 meeting

From: Mark Chavez

Alex McFarland spoke to the ACR about religious liberty and related issues.

Bob Thompson stepped down as board chair after several years of creative and energetic leadership. The ACR is deeply indebted to Bob for leading the association during a time of great upheaval in the historic mainline denominations.

The ACR adopted a new constituency policy that reflects the current state of renewal movements in the mainline denominations and the new denominations that are being formed:

  • The Association for Church Renewal is a network of Christian leaders whose ministry context is the mainline or former mainline denominations in North America and whose theological convictions are described as evangelical, conservative, orthodox or traditional.
  • Any individual working to achieve the revitalization of a historic mainline denomination and/or foster the planting, growth and vitality of a denomination that is a Biblically orthodox off-shoot of such, is welcome to participate in ACR.
  • Board members will be elected from among those individuals who adhere to the historic Christian faith and desire to further the mission of ACR as a leadership network that meets twice a year for fellowship, mutual encouragement and equipping through programs that are relevant to ACR members.

The following were elected to three-year terms to serve on the Board: Frank Lockhart, Carmen Fowler LaBerge, David Stanley, and Dick Mathisen.

The following were elected as officers:

  • Board Chair – Mark Chavez
  • Vice Chair – David Stanley
  • Secretary – Dick Mathisen
  • Treasurer – Neena Tysinger

The fall meeting will be October 15-16, 2012 in Rosslyn, VA.

Notes from the Association’s Fall 2011 Meeting

From Bob Thompson

The next ACR meeting will be March 12-13, 2012 at the Holiday Inn Rosslyn Key Bridge in Arlington.

o We had excellent presentations from John Bradosky of the newly formed North American Lutheran Church (attached) and Phil Ashey of the American Anglican Council.  Phil did not use a transcript but said the essence of his comments can be found in two articles – Article 1Article 2.

o We regretfully accepted the resignation of David Runnion-Bareford as our President.  David’s shift to a new pastoral calling has made ongoing participation with ACR very challenging to him.  He sent words of encouragement and appreciation to the ACR, and in turn the ACR expressed its deep gratitude to David for his leadership, creativity, insight, and humor across a generation of involvement in renewal.

o We also spent meaningful times together in worship and prayer, including prayer for the current strategic situations shared by our Presbyterian and Lutheran friends.  We have a renewed sense that we are, indeed, at a pivotal moment in the history of the North American church.  We want to discern what God is doing and be led by the Spirit as we seek to maintain a loving witness to truth.

o The ACR will continue to retool its identity and mission as a place for those with past or present mainline ties to connect, encourage, support, and inform one another.  More on that in subsequent messages.

If you’d like to stay informed… please be sure to join our Facebook Group!

Biblical Witness Fellowship: Notes From The UCC Synod

From Biblical Witness Fellowship:

The theme of this Synod, “SAND”, seemed especially appropriate as the UCC continues to sink slowly. We could only be mindful of the words of our Lord Jesus, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who builds his house on the sand. The rain came down and the streams rose and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:26,27

BWF issued a press release at the outset of Synod that seemed especially prescient:

UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST SYNOD MEETS “ON SINKING SAND”

The liberal UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST, the leader among protestant denominations in membership loss, is meeting at Synod 28 this weekend in Tampa, Florida using the theme of “SAND.”  According to the Synod Handbook (page 8-9)http://www.ucc.org/synod/pdfs/general_synod_28_handbook.pdfdescribing the event’s worship focus, “sand remains a powerful image of an unimaginable quantity. It also reflects the rich imagery of desert, of journey, of shifting sands.” It goes on to say, “At the Twenty-eighth General Synod in 2011, the United Church of Christ finds itself in oasis and desert. Blessed with diversity of thought, vibrant life, and shifting sands, we journey through challenging times seeking possibility, engaged in thoughtful and difficult conversations.” Jesus used this image powerfully when he contrasted the wise man who built on the rock with the foolish, saying, “everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.” (Matthew 7:26)

Renewal leader David Runnion-Bareford said, “This is indeed a powerful confession by the Synod of the UCC that, having rebelled against the word of God, is on sinking sand – with our members, churches, historic witness, and identity in Christ washing away before our eyes.”

  • Perhaps the most striking action of Synod was to eliminate the acknowledgment of God as heavenly Father from the Constitution. Again the BWF press release just before Synod was clear about the relevance of this action. Unfortunately the Synod did not listen to our counsel and went ahead with this misguided action.
  • UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST SET TO REJECT GOD THE FATHER
  • Meeting at General Synod 28 in Tampa, Florida this weekend, the historic United Church of Christ will vote on an amendment to eliminate God the Father from Article 5, lines 9-10 of its constitution.http://www.ucc.org/synod/pdfs/proposedconstitution.pdfThe Constitution of the denomination has remained unchanged in its theological core since the United Church of Christ’s founding in 1957, and remains the covenant connection with the basic truths of Christianity that keeps many churches affiliated who are otherwise alienated by the denominations very liberal agenda.
  • According to renewal leader David Runnion-Bareford, “Rejecting God as Father in an age of fatherlessness is unthinkable. God acted toward us in amazing grace when He offered to be our Father through the sacrifice of his Son, Jesus Christ who offers us life in his name. This is not something we as humans made up in some other time. Rejecting our Father is act of arrogant rebellion in the name of cultural conformity that only further alienates members, churches, but more importantly God himself. We call the delegates to reject the change for God’s sake.”

We think that the analysis of this action in USA Today’s Faith and Reason was interesting:

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/Religion/post/2011/07/god-father-ucc-obama-religion/1

Particularly as it links to our press releases:http://www.reformationucc.org/2011/07/01/united-church-christ-synod-meets-sinking-sand/

In that article the author quotes UCC spokesperson Barbara Powell defending the change in language,

“It could be Father or Mother or Creator God. Our language reflects the God of all.” We believe that captures the essence of the idolatry. God has revealed the wonder of his willingness to be our Father. How magnificent. When we describe God in images to please ourselves or our culture we are doing nothing more than creating an imaginary friend.

  • Acknowledging a continuing decline in basic support to its general budget, United Church of Christ delegates this morning approved a national allocation of $7.1 million for 2012 and $6.8 million for 2013. This is less than ½ the basic OCWM support just a decade ago. Sinking Sand.
  • Synod passed a resolution titled:  “Supporting International Human Rights Related to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” seeking to promote the LGBT agenda in foreign cultures where such behavior is “legally, politically, socially, or even religiously” condemned. This resolution will further jeopardize Christian witness particularly in Africa and Asia where Islamics use information as propaganda to compromise and persecute Christians on the grounds that they are advocates for sexual perversion. This resolution was submitted by the “Wider Church Ministries” of the UCC.
  • Synod passed a resolution titled: To Counter Actions of Hostility Against Islam and the Muslim Community.” Committee 12 member Paul Adkins quoted theologian Hans Kung, who said, “There will never be peace among the nations of the world until there is peace among the religions of the world” as he introduced this resolution. The conflict between Kung’s syncretism and the reality that “at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow” is obvious. This resolution does not specifically say that Christianity is one way among many but it offers that impression and could be interpreted that way.
  • The Synod passed a resolution titled: “The Right of LGBT Persons to Adopt and Raise Children.” The point of this one is obvious.
  • The Synod tabled a resolution titled: “In support of  Effective and Constructive Peacemaking between Palestinians and Israelis” that would have resurrected many of the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel proposals that were put to rest in previous Synods.
  • The Synod passed a resolution:  “In Support of the Release of Puerto Rican Political Prisoners.”. It was the fifth time the UCC Synod has passed a resolution calling for the release of Puerto Rican terrorists who perpetrated a reign of violent terror across the U.S. in the 1970’s and 1980’s including more than one hundred bombings and armed robberies. It was the first such resolution since 1991. In 1999, Bill Clinton offered amnesty to 12 of these terrorists one of whom, Oscar Lopez-Rivera refused because the amnesty involved an admission of guilt. This UCC resolution calls specifically for the unconditional release of Oscar Lopez-Rivera as well as Gonzalez Claudio. Claudio was apprehended in 2008 after 25 years on the lam and convicted of robbing an armored truck of $7 million in 1983, the largest heist of its kind in the history of the U.S. up to that time . Lopez-Rivera a primary leader of the FALN is widely held to be responsible for many bombings including the Fraunces Tavern Bombing in 1975 which killed four and injured over 60. He was caught in possession of 100 sticks of dynamite at his arrest. After the “12” were incarcerated the bombings and other violence related to Puerto Rican Independence stopped.

On the Lighter Side:

  • the Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, UCC general minister and president, “Encouraged and Enlightened the delegates to General Synod 28 delegates and visitors at the GMP/Collegium of Officers presentation in the plenary hall of the Tampa Convention Center.

Referring to the popular business acronym for “Big Hairy Audacious Goals (B-HAGs),” Black said, “You know how we are at the United Church of Christ – we got a hold of that, and said, ‘Well, that isn’t quite right for us. Let’s make it Big HolyAudacious Goals.’ “

“These B-HAGs are only a part of what the church’s organization or vision should include,” said Black. “I like to remind myself that we tend to do that which we intend to do.”

And then . . ..

The resolution, submitted by the Southern California Nevada Conference, evaluates ways in which our dietary choices can have profound implications on the environment, as well as on human well-being and animal welfare. Encouraging Christians to explore and discuss how food choices can accord Christian values and beliefs.

Really?? Seriously?

TO READ MORE: http://www.ucc.org/synod/news.html

Former UCC President Called to Repentance, Healing

The confessing movement in the United Church of Christ today called former President Rev. John Thomas to public repentance of his moral failure in order to allow the church to heal. In August, Biblical Witness Fellowship revealed that Rev. Thomas had been having an adulterous affair for an unspecified number of years during his presidency with a woman who was his subordinate and frequent travelling partner on church business. This resulted in his public announcement that he was divorcing his wife to live in a “committed relationship” with his lover. Friday, the UCC, Western Reserve Association’s Church and Ministry Committee after a lengthy review, suspended Rev. Thomas ministerial standing pending completion of a “program of growth.” Thomas responded with an angry statement virulently condemning the action of the church. http://www.wfn.org/2011/01/msg00086.html

In response, Biblical Witness Fellowship Executive Director David Runnion-Bareford has issued a statement saying:  “This is a time for sorrow and not anger. Even as we hold John in our prayer, now is the time for an authentic repentance and clean confession from a broken and contrite heart. He has deeply hurt the church and healing will not begin without resolution. We are encouraged by the integrity and sensitivity of the church and ministry committee who, serving as volunteers, have engaged this difficult situation with courage.”

ACR Implements Leadership Training Process

LEADERSHIP:  CO-WORKERS WITH GOD

“For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.”

–I Corinthians 3:9

To be co-workers with God—to be God’s field—God’s building—is serious stuff.  Being given this assignment by God’s Word brings out our sense of inadequacy. How can we possibly be worthy or prepared for such a task?

By discerning from God’s Word how to be that person.

There are many folks who just “have at it.”  They hear the call to be a co-worker with God and take off to do the best they can.  Others pursue a lengthy Christian education which they assume with prepare them for whatever tasks come their way—only to find their training inadequate in many areas.

Some co-workers with God develop or find leadership training resources that aid them in strengthening their leadership skills—in plowing their personal fields of gifts and graces—in allowing God to build them up in preparation for service.  While many such leadership programs are excellent, few are comprehensive.

The Association for Church Renewal has entered into partnership with EQUIP (www.iequip.org): a national/international leadership training ministry that partners with hundreds of ministries, to train over three million leaders in 148 countries.

The ACR/EQUIP curriculum is Biblically-based, promoting Christ-like, servant-leadership.  The resources are flexible and adaptable to the needs of partner organizations.

The ACR/EQUIP leadership material is comprehensive, shaping God’s co-workers through spiritual formation, plowing the field of skill formation, and finishing off the building with strategic formation.

What do these stages of formation encompass?

  1. Spiritual Formation: Integrity; Ethics; Humility; Motives: Core Values
  2. Skill Formation: Developing People; Communicating; Team Building; Problem Solving
  3. Strategic Formation: Effective Planning; Priorities; Vision

Leadership training is not a one time event—it is a process.  This means leadership training must be ongoing to be effective.

We are living in a time when biblical leadership is needed as never before.  A crisis of confidence toward leadership within our culture and within the church shout to this need.

Christian leader—will you be instrumental in bringing biblical, servant leadership training to your denomination?

If your interest is piqued, call Faye Short (706-778-5032), ACR Director of Leadership Training, for more information about starting a comprehensive leadership training program in your church or denomination.

Don’t wait—our time is short to equip God’s co-workers for the harvest.

An Open Letter to the Editor of The Lutheran, the magazine of the ELCA from Dr. Carl Braaten

An Open Letter to Mr. Daniel J. Lehmann
Editor, The Lutheran, Magazine of the ELCA
8765 W. Higgins Rd.
Chicago, IL 60631

Dear Sir:.

I am writing in response to your editorial in the October 2010 issue of The Lutheran, the magazine of the ELCA.  In that editorial you write about the formation of a new Lutheran church body, the North American Lutheran Church.  You make a number of statements that are either petty or untrue, creating a false impression.

1)  You observe that “the NALC becomes, in the eyes of this magazine, one more Lutheran denomination” and you assert that “The Lutheran won’t give it any special coverage just because of its heritage.”  Why not?  The Lutheran should serve the people of the ELCA and not only the bureaucracy at Higgins Road.  The NALC is composed entirely of congregations and pastors who left behind many close friends and relatives in the ELCA.  The NALC is therefore not just another Lutheran church body, no matter what you say.  It will always have a special relationship to the ELCA as “a chip off the old block.”  Don’t you think the people of the ELCA deserve to be kept informed about what their friends and relatives are experiencing in the NALC?  Your response is pitifully petty, a mere defensive reaction born of resentment.

2)  You observe that “the magazine turned down an advertisement sought by organizers of the NALC gathering.  It promoted a theological symposium that served as a run-up to the constituting convention.”  These statements are half-truths.  As a journalist you should pay attention to the pesky little things called “facts.”  I was the initiator and coordinator of the theological conference, “Seeking New Directions for Lutheranism.”  I know what happened, down to every detail.  The fact is that Lutheranism in North American has been and is theologically in disarray, in a state of confusion.  My idea was to ask CORE to sponsor a free theological conference for all Lutherans, to discuss the identity and future of Lutheranism with integrity in an ecumenical age.  When this conference was planned and announced, there was not a hint about the formation of a new church body.  The theological conference was announced at the CORE assembly in September, 2009, Fishers, Indiana, at which time there was no proposal for a new church body on the table.  Our theological conference was organized as a function of CORE, pure and simple.  What possible objection could you as a journalist or editor have to that, unless you had already taken the side of the bureaucrats in the church struggle that led to the 2009 ELCA assembly in Minneapolis?  The fact that the organization of the NALC took place chronologically soon after the theological conference was an after-thought.  The advertisement that you turned down was sought by the officers of CORE and not by the organizers of the NALC, as you suggest.  The ad was for a conference sponsored by CORE.  Not a single word suggested anything about creating a new church body.  When we planned the conference, selected the speakers, and produced the brochure, we knew nothing about the NALC, nor was it on anyone’s radar screen.

3.  You observe that “many if not all of those involved were still on the ELCA roster, but their actions were schismatic.”  Now, as a self-professed schismatic yourself, you should know from experience that neither the conference itself nor any of the speakers were guilty of actions that were schismatic.  Who are you to judge that their actions were schismatic?  All of the speakers are ordained ministers of the ELCA and have served for decades as professors of theology at its colleges or seminaries, in some cases more than 50 years.  Neither the theme nor the aim of the conference was to call for or to promote the creation of a new church body.  We are all church theologians and not church politicians.  We covered the loci of Lutheran dogmatics — the authority and interpretation of Scripture, the doctrine of the Trinity, the centrality of Christ, the nature and purpose of the Church, Christian ethics, and so forth.  The Lutheran theology embedded in these lectures stands on its own feet, and does not ride piggy-back on the church-political actions to start a new church.  You should know that theologians who promise to serve the whole church of Jesus Christ are not beholden to the officials of any Protestant denomination.  Over the years all of us speak across the ecumenical spectrum, at Catholic, Orthodox, Baptist, and Evangelical institutions.  Is there something un-Lutheran or un-churchly about that?  Now that the NALC is organized, as theologians we are free to speak at its events, just as we are free to speak at any non-ELCA Lutheran church bodies.  That may be too difficult to grasp by those who think and act as though church theologians should be the functionaries of church bureaucrats who manipulate the levers of power.  If Martin Luther were here, he might say with Yogi Berra, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

4.  You ask “why would the magazine assist with highlighting an event aimed at distracting, if not undermining, the ELCA?”  What do you know about the aim of the theological conference?  The brochure states the aim this way: “This theological conference will reaffirm the original aim of Lutheranism to be a reforming movement within the whole church that is both evangelical in preaching and orthodox in doctrine.  Each of the presenters will focus on a particular article of faith at risk in Lutheranism today and spell out what we confess on the basis of Holy Scripture, the ancient Creeds, and the Lutheran Confessions.  We invite all Lutherans in North America to come together to reclaim the great tradition that witnesses faithfully to Jesus Christ, builds his Church on earth, and proclaims the Gospel of salvation to the nations.”  Those are scary words, but only to heterodox revisionists moved by a different spirit and loyal to different principles and standards.
More than eight hundred persons attended the theological conference.  You were invited too.  Editors from non-Lutheran magazines chose to attend, for example, Christianity Today, Touchstone, inter alia.  You chose not to attend, even though it was a major theological event within the orbit of the ELCA.  There is a reason for this, and we know what it is.  Lutheranism began in history as a movement of critical theology, biblical and dogmatic.  The lackeys of the church bureaucracy at that time were opposed to Luther and his reforming and renewing efforts.  They could not tolerate criticism.  All the theologians who spoke at the theological conference in Columbus, 2010, are responding to the theological crisis in American Lutheranism.  They have been critics of various aspects of the ELCA from its earliest beginnings, for example, the quota system, radical theological feminism, antinomianism, etc.  The two “Call to Faithfulness Conferences” at St. Olaf College in 1990 and 1992 put the spotlight on a number of critical theological issues.  Those who have ears to hear heard, and the rest plugged their ears.

Is there something un-Lutheran about raising voices in protest and criticism of false teachings and practices going on in the church?  That’s what theologians do.  Lutheran theologians have been doing that from the get-go.  Understandably, then and now the church politicians don’t like to hear it.  What is the mission of The Lutheran?  Is the ELCA beyond criticism, so that critical theological voices should be ignored, muted, and regarded as schismatic? That is what the bureaucrats charged against Luther when they tried to muzzle him.  Does The Lutheran have a greater obligation to heed the wishes of the bureaucrats of the ELCA than to hear the voices of its theologians?  Do the bureaucrats who have served the ELCA for a few years have a greater right to address the ELCA than its theologians who have served its various educational institutions for many years?
A schism has occurred now.  You seem to exhibit no understanding of what caused it.  It’s not the case that a few pastors and congregations woke up one morning and said, “Hey, let’s start a new church?  Wouldn’t that be fun?”  Every historical event has a cause.  We know what caused the schism.  There would have been no schism except for the ELCA assembly decisions in Minneapolis, August, 2009.  The game is now hard-ball and you have joined in, using the kind of tactics applied against you in that other schism to which you refer.

You end your editorial with a quotation from Luther: “The most dangerous sin of all is the presumption of righteousness.”  Your editorial reeks with the kind of self-righteousness Luther had in mind.

My question to you is:  As a journalist, why can’t you be fair to all parties involved in the debates and discussions going on within the ELCA?  Why do you need to be a partisan beholden to its bureaucracy?  If that is the mission of The Lutheran, maybe that explains why it has fewer and fewer subscribers and readers, as you yourself have acknowledged.

I am sending this as an “Open Letter,” because I do not expect to see it in The Lutheran magazine.  Nor do I want it edited so as to make it say things I did not write.  I have had that experience before.

Sincerely,
Carl E. Braaten

Via ALPB Forum

Association For Church Renewal October 2010 Meeting

The October 2010 meeting of the Association For Church Renewal will meet the 18th and 19th in Washington DC.

Items on the agend include revisiting and fine tuning the ACR’s strategic plan as well as beginning implementation of the Leadership Development strategy unveiled at MainlineCall.org

Christian leaders serving mainline congregations interested in particpating in these discussions may contact the Association for Church Renewal here