An Interesting Day At CBOQ Assembly
Today was a most interesting day.
Today we learned that our denomination has 21 million dollars in hedged assets but has seen its purchasing power reduced by nearly $500,000 a year due to reduced givings from churches.
So many are dying.
So many are closing.
This year a substantial portion of our budget was covered by the sale of church properties - which had closed due to long term contraction and decline.
It appears that our denomination intends to exist on monies given to them decades and even centuries in the past. We were told today that some of these endowments were given in the 1800's! That money is why our denomination still exists.
A shocking percentage of our churches give nothing at all. Most give far less than they used to.
Why is that?
Perhaps the second major item of business holds the answer to that question. A motion was put forth to create a committee to look into the matter of how to minister the Gospel lovingly and truthfully to LGBTQ people and to produce associated resources and guidelines for pastors and churches.
Such a motion seems quite appropriate to our times as our recent history indicates. However, when it became clear that there would be quite a bit of conversation (as people lined up at the microphones) and quite a bit of disagreement and acrimony (as evidenced by the first several people who spoke against the motion) a delegate made a motion to defer the issue to the Board.
It might be helpful to remember the content of the letter from the board which gave rise to the specific motion in the first place. Having indicated that a number of churches had expressed concern about the ministry approach of other churches with respect to the LGBTQ issue, the Board indicated that our present by-laws and provisions did not directly address the matter at hand. Therefore, they indicated that some sort of inquiry would occur. The concluding paragraph read as follows:
"Given the range of questions and suggestions that the CBOQ Board of Directors has received, it has tasked Executive Minister, Rev. Tim McCoy, to direct CBOQ staff to develop a plan addressing issues and challenges which may include social, philosophical and theological perspectives related to CBOQ identity and beliefs.
Such options may include forums and/or consultations throughout the constituency. The Board is scheduled to receive and discuss the Executive Minister’s proposed plan at its fall 2017 meeting."
Notice the several uses of the word "may".
He MAY look into issues related.
He MAY consult throughout the constituency.
Several pastors and churches were uncomfortable with the ambivalence in that reply, particularly with respect to the issue of broad consultation which is why we wrote the motion that we did.
Nevertheless, the motion to defer was passed by about a 60% majority.
However, immediately following that discussion, a man who had spoken vehemently against the original motion was nominated by the Board to sit on the Board that was now tasked with looking at this matter. Meanwhile, the delegate nominated by the CLRA group to fill that spot (our nomination being given back in the fall by letter as per protocol) was never mentioned. We were told that the Nominating Committee has the right to prioritize nominees more likely to work in harmony with the Board.
"More likely to work in harmony with the Board" sounds dangerously close to "more likely to vote the way we want".
I'm not sure that should have been said.
I'm sure it should not be how people are nominated to the governing board of our denomination.
However, the polity allows for nominations to come from the floor provided that they are given to the President by 1 pm on Thursday. This has been done. The Assembly will now have the opportunity to vote on whether they wish to have broad input on this matter or whether they wish to have a report prepared by the Board and by the people selected by the Board to give input which they have already received from the microphone at Assembly.
Either way, by late this afternoon we should know whether broad input is desired or not.
Either way, God will still be on the throne, the Gospel will still save sinners, and Jesus Christ will still be the hope of the world.
What we are deciding is whether we want to work together - what we are deciding is whether we CAN still work together.
I pray that we can. I pray that we will. I pray that we will not shut our ears to the input of our brothers and sisters. Let's do what baptists are supposed to do: Read the Bible together. Pray together and then stand together having heard the voice of the Spirit saying "This is the path, walk ye in it".
Even so, come Lord Jesus.