Just Another Lie
John Dorhauer printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Mon Sep 04, 2006 at 11:15:06 PM EST
John Dorhauer, Talk To Action writer
The work of renewal groups is fueled by lies and half-truths told often enough and loud enough by bullies that they become accepted as fact when left unchallenged.

While attending the first annual meeting of the Faithful and Welcoming Churches (FWC) renewal group of the United Church of Christ in early August, David Runnion-Bareford (Executive Director of the more established renewal group, The Biblical Witness Fellowship) claimed that the National Offices of the United Church of Christ was responsible for choosing 2/3 of General Synod delegates.

This is a lie: and he knows it.

The lie went unchallenged by any of the participants who, quite frankly, were fairly well predisposed to believe this kind of crap to begin with, and for whom David was somewhat of an expert in the field.

Though David himself did nothing to explain the veracity of his claim, it is presumably supported by the understanding that all elected members of the National Boards are given voice and vote at the biennial gathering of the United Church of Christ known as General Synod.

While that is true, it nonetheless does nothing to support the outrageous lie told by David at the FWC annual meeting. Let me give some data here.

First of all, the Constitution of the UCC authorizes each Board of the National Ministries (of which there are four) to establish its own number at anywhere between 55 and 58 - bringing the total of potential voting delegates from the Boards to no more than 232 - not even close to half of the delegates representing the UCC at Synod.

Second, it is a false to assume that the National Offices have anything to do with the election of most of those delegates that serve on the respective Boards. Each of the 39 Conferences is allowed to elect their own representatives to each of the Boards. This means that around ¾ of all of the Boards are created with no input from National Leadership.

Third, the remaining delegates are chosen by each respective Conference. Like the United States, Conferences split the remaining delegate seats among themselves based on their membership totals: the larger the Conference, the higher percentage of the delegates there will be from your Conference. In 2005, the Missouri Mid-South Conference was given 20 delegates to serve at General Synod. Not once in the process did anyone from the National Offices consult with us about the formation of our delegation. They would never do that, and we would never allow them if they tried.

In Missouri (the only Conference for which I can speak directly), we divide the delegation evenly amongst our three Associations. Each Association then forms a nominating committee (elected at the previous year's annual meeting), one of whose responsibilities it is to find local church members willing to serve from our Association to fill out the Conference's delegation to Synod. At no point in time does anyone from our National offices contact - or even know the names of - those who serve on that Nominating Committee.

The people nominated by this Committee are then voted on at the next Annual Meeting of the Association. Names may be submitted from the floor in nomination, and an election is held.

What, then, - short of the fantasy world in which he lives - is it that leads David Runnion-Bareford to claim against all credible evidence that the National Offices of the UCC are involved in some grand conspiracy to manipulate votes at General Synod by hand selecting 2/3 of the delegates?

That he can do this with impunity is a disgrace. That he can do it with a straight face is evidence of his deep seeded desire to slander his own denomination by any means necessary. That he can do it despite all credible evidence to the contrary is testimony of his own incongruity with matters true.

But then again, credible evidence is never a prerequisite for what defines something as true in the hands of renewal movement leaders. If it discredits their perceived enemy, it is useful and true. If it supports the presupposition that the institution in question is evil, it is de facto valid. And creative thinkers like David have spent a career concocting half-truths and outright lies, couching them not in fact but in faith, hoping that if told often enough and loud enough it will become credible.

This is one of many of his well-placed lies that cannot stand the light of day; but in the dark hallways of the Bechtelsville Church on that Friday in early August, in the presence of a crowd willing to believe anything that would discredit their mutually despised denomination, this lie fell on friendly ears and, left unchallenged became a part of the ammunition that would be used to destroy their common enemy.




Display:
who bases his appeal on demagogic lies, does not sound like much of a reformer. And what he is renewing, well, who can say?

by Frederick Clarkson on Wed Sep 06, 2006 at 08:22:09 PM EST

I know that's a lie, also because I ran for Synod Delegate a couple of times.  The delegates were elected at our Association Meetings.  I didn't win, but our Pastor at the time was elected, and we are from a very small, conservative congregation.

by sheltie on Mon Sep 11, 2006 at 03:53:34 PM EST

I agree liars should be confronted and this statment you quoted should be corrected. 

I must regretfully take issue with the tone & substance of your comments as there may be errors of perception, perspective or of facts. Maybe something was taken out of context.

Of course, if he mis-spoke and meant 1/3 are picked by national boards, then he would have been close as I think there are about 750 delegate or so.  Has anyone checked with David R-B? 

I was there & missed that comment although I took careful notes  and agree with the press releases on the UCC News website which give a quite different picture of the meeting than presented here.  Are they in error?

I our personal conversations which I enjoyed, I missed your challenge on this point as I would have agreed and sought to correct this mis-statement of the delegate selection process. I agree mis-statements and errors by leaders should be corrected.

I always think it proper to confront those who make errors with their error & give them the chance to make amends.  I do not believe the statment as quoted, nor do any other the Synod delegates who were present. None of the other leaders whom I know believe the delegate selection process is any different than you describe.

The hallways were well-lighted, not dark. Yourself and all denominational staff were warmly received.  The goals voted on and reported by UCNews shows no attitude of 'despising'.  The UCC is not my enemy. Neither are you. 

I recall the keynote speaker challenging all of us to avoid vilifying those with whom we disagree.  It seems although we were present in the same room our experience was quite different.   

Whatever else David R-B may be, I've never known him to bully anyone as I once was by others.  While I've known many who disagree with him deeply and profoundly, this is a new charge against a fellow member of the clergy with whom we both are in covenant.

However, if he is a bully, should not the evidence be brought forward and ethical charges considered? Bullies should not be allowed to run rampant in the church. If that is happening, then further action should occur to bring justice.  

Blessings! 



by SClifford on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 11:46:41 PM EST


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