Anatomy of Another Attack
The following e-mail came to me yesterday. It tells a sad story of a church under attack. I have asked permission of the pastor to share this with you in its entirety. I have changed the name of the church and the pastor, knowing that some will guess which church and pastor are being referred to. Those details are not essential to the telling of this story.
Many of the tactics described here are almost universally applied in a takeover attempt in our churches: attempts at peace and reconciliation met with only more strident attacks; capitulation to bullying tactics met with another attack; ugly words and actions expressed in public hearings; letter to church members expressing disgust and disdain about an action of the wider church; responses to such a letter from representatives of the wider church; clandestine meetings; calls for votes; signature campaigns; establishment of a research committee; request to distribute the results of the 'research' to the full membership of the church.
This e-mail provides us with a pretty thorough, first-hand look at the development of an attack.. I include it in its entirety, again, changing only those items that would identify the church in question.
Lately it seems a greater sense of peace has descended on First Church that is
very refreshing. Since the summer of 2005 we've experienced turmoil and
sought to placate those who seek to take First Church out of the United Church
of Christ (UCC). Each time we've chosen to capitulate to their demands
thinking peace would result, they have been emboldened to demand an even
stronger expression of their displeasure.
In the summer of 2005 I published a pastoral letter agreeing not to
perform same sex ceremonies. That promise still stands. I was told it
was not strong enough and therefore there might be a hint that if the
state were to change its laws, I might go back on my word.
Open hearing meetings were held in early 2006 seeking a path toward
peace. Many ugly things were said in those meetings. Then First Church's church
council asked members to voice the degree of their opposition to the UCC
(3 disapproving choices and one neutral). In July 2006 a letter went
from First Church giving voice to objections some here felt toward a UCC
resolution from 2005 hoping that would help bring peace to First Church. Both
the Conference and the National office of the UCC
received and responded to that letter. After publishing the results of
the survey and sending the letter. the council stated that their wisdom
was that for the good of the congregation First church is not on a path to leave
the UCC. Some First church members, coached by individuals outside our
community, mounted an aggressive signature campaign, which garnered
enough signatures to force a congregational meeting. Many ugly things
were said at that meeting and a resolution came from it to:
Establish an independent committee of volunteers (nine members) free
from the influence of the UCC and the Conference to investigate
the concerns this congregation has with the UCC and to provide
recommendations to the congregation that address those concerns.
This group came to be called the Independent Research Committee (a name
from the outside coaches) and would have included no one with affection
for the UCC except that our church council president
insisted that our by-laws be followed.
To discharge their task to investigate, this Independent Research
Committee sent out a survey asking members to (again) voice their
objections to the UCC. It did not ask members to voice their joys or
loves regarding the UCC and some members did not respond because the
survey was perceived to only be asking for the opinions of those who
dislike the UCC.
Last Monday, at the church council meeting, the research committeerequested that their
finding be sent to the entire congregation in a separate mailing. This
report will be shown to the council for the first time on Wed., Jan. 17
and mailed to members on Jan. 19. The research committee requested that the council set
the agenda for the upcoming Jan. 28 congregational meeting to include
the report, but no action be taken on the committee's recommendations.
When the council asked what those recommendations would be, the council
was told that the recommendations were not yet formulated by the
committee. It has now become clear that the research committee findings being mailed
this week will include not only a report by also 7 recommendations.
o The research committee will recommend to First Church that it force Rev. Jones to
o It will recommend by-law changes regarding how First Church selects
Church Council members in case of mid term vacancy.
o It will recommend a change in the current Search Committee's
procedures to give more power to those who seek a senior pastor whose
views correspond to those calling for First Church to leave the UCC.
o It will recommend that a new committee be established to study
the objections First Church has against the UCC.
During this process, members coached by outsiders have regularly and
systematically made false statements about the UCC in the grocery
stores, in fellowship meetings, after church, during coffee hour and in
many other settings. It has been repeated that the UCC does not accept
Jesus Christ as Messiah. This is completely false. The UCC constitution
begins with the statement that Jesus is the sole head of the church and
affirms the historic creeds of the Christian faith. It has been said
that some people have read the UCC web site and have seen it there that
the UCC denies Jesus' divinity. This is completely false. Read it for
yourself. It says no such thing.
It has been said that the UCC supports abortion. This is false. It has
been said that some people have read the UCC web site and have seen this
for themselves. This is false. Read it for yourself. The UCC is
congregationally organized. The National settings speak to and not for
the local congregation. The UCC is one of the most open and accepting
Christian organizations in existence. It is that very freedom that
allows many points of view to be discussed fully and openly.
Some of the surveys returned to the research committee have had printed copies of anti
UCC website materials attached to them.
I will take time in the coming weeks to write more about this church, and how it contains many identifiable elements of a typical church attack.
Anatomy of Another Attack | 18 comments (18 topical, 0 hidden)
Anatomy of Another Attack | 18 comments (18 topical, 0 hidden)