Saturday, October 24, 2009

Get out now--nothing is going to change

I grew up in the Church of the Brethren, as did my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents (in 1888 there were several splits, but you get the idea). The church dates its beginning to 1708 when a group decided after much prayer and Bible study that they needed to re-baptize themselves--thus Anabaptist. It is one of the historic peace churches with strong ties to the Mennonites (and a lot of intermarriage). Each year it has an Annual Conference to discuss the business of being a church--a very tiny church, I might add. I attended one in 1949 with my grandparents in Ocean Grove, and one in Dayton in 1974. Some people go every year to see old friends. I think there are about 50,000 members--so it's not hard to run into someone you know. At the Newsletter of the Brethren Rival Fellowship (now 50 years old) a group that has attempted to return the group to its Biblical Anabaptist Pietist roots, I noticed this report on the 2009 Annual Conference.
    1. The 223rd recorded Annual Conference was held in San Diego, California, on June 26-30, 2009, with attendance at an unusual low of just slightly under 2,100 in attendance.

    2. The theme was, “The Old Has Gone, The New Has Come, All This Is From God.” It was based on 2 Corinthians 5, on becoming new creatures in Christ.

    3. While the theme emphasized the new things in Christ, the Conference spent most of its time dealing with what is becoming an increasingly old issue at Annual Conference–namely homosexuality.

    4. Last year’s Standing Committee had formed a statement of Confession and Commitment in response to the repeated requests that came to the Program and Arrangements Committee from BMC (Brethren Mennonite Council­a pro gay organization) to have a display area among the exhibits. This request has consistently been denied.

    5. The Standing Committee Statement essentially affirmed the 1983 decision on human sexuality and acknowledged the tension that exists in the denomination over this issue. The statement cautioned against the meanness that has been expressed at some levels and said this kind of activity must stop.

    6. This year a new item of business was received from the Northern Indiana District that raised the question, “Whether it is the will of the church that this language on same-sex covenantal relationships [in the 1983 Annual Conference decision] will continue to guide our journey together?” . . .
I think we know what the result of this struggle with the advocates from the LGBT group will be. I’m not sure why every denomination tries to reinvent the wheel on this. A tiny percentage of the group advocates for acceptence of their unbiblical life style; a larger group doesn't want to be mean or judgemental (because that would be unbiblical) and supports them; the majority waffle and wait (which is also unbiblical since there is an outline on how to handle this) and finally leave a weakened, gutted denomination. The solution might be to get out now so you can move ahead with the Lord’s work. Their sexuality statement goes back to 1983, and when I went back and looked at some of the archives, even 26 years ago teen-agers at the youth conferences were being told same sex attraction was OK and they should be working for “justice” for the gay community.

The ELCA task force statement to recognize and bless homosexual unions goes back to 1989, but only because ELCA was birthed in 1988 through a merger of two of the largest synods, the Lutheran Church in America, and the American Lutheran Church. The individual statements on sexuality from those groups probably predate 1989.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The church split among the Brethren was in 1881-1883.

The membership of the Church of the Brethren is about 125,000 at present (down from 200,000 in 1960).