6/10/2008

Reflections on memorial 116

GS Tom Armiger was an absolutely masterful Chair this afternoon navigating the conference through the waves of membership changes.... This issue has been nagging the denomination for more than a decade. The BGS and GBA hammered out a proposal (M116) that made it through the conference with only a few modifications.

Here are my long hand notes....

-Modified by amendment to make Community membership not required or automatically transferable (A genius move by Armiger from the chair by calling for a straw vote which led to making it local and not required universally--thus a local church has a right to not take a community member as a transfer... this was the compromise that freed up more delegates to vote for the proposal.

-This debate is a little like the PC/MAC ads--- the PC guys may have a bigger market share but the Mac people are gaining!

-Harry Wood will be remembered for this speech for years. Harry is a conwervative on this issue yet argued for passing it because of the needs of the church... he is considered the Goild standard for integrity--once he comes out for it it really might pass...

-one by one the major even-spoken heavy hitters like Eastlack, Hontz, Ott, and Schmidt plead for help ... Wood's speech made this batter than a 50-50 proposition, these guys now one after another piling up may push it over the hump?

--Not posted is the report on the "Marlin Mull" comments--if you saw it you know what we're speaking of--who among us has not tried to be cute or witty and it turned out being offensive? Let thoe of us without such sin cast the first stone... ;-)


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FINALLY it passed strongly. The effect is to permit a church to let "Community members" vote on all local issues except recieving Covenant members, but they still can't hold office, or serve on the board or any other job requiring Covenant membershp, and it isn't transferable.... it isn't an "historic" change but will get the issue off the table for now...

12 comments:

smcvey2285 said...

Keith,
I am not sure that agree with you that this was not historic. Had no compromise been reached, history of another kind may have been in play. I can only speak for myself on this, but TWC's unwillingness to align itself with the clear teaching of Scripture on the alcohol issue was/is driving me away from the denomination. This was not a giant step, but a giant step may have driven others away. As it is, I can go forward, continue to preach the Word, and wait for the day when we value the authority and sufficiency of Scripture more than we value our traditions. So in short, history wasn’t made, and that may be historic.

Bryon Switala said...

Wow, I don't really think it is a big deal to ask on members to have and outward showing of an inward change. I heard a skit one time about why does no one question that I don't use mayonnaise, but they do ask about me not drinking.
I am ok with the change in voting, but wonder if we continue to water ourselves down than what do we become? I know that some pastors out there are not really following the basics of teaching our individual beliefs as Wesleyans and allowing people to become Cov members. (Know of a specific person who sat on a board, but didn't know we don't drink)

smcvey2285 said...

Hi Bryon,
This is not the place for a discussion on the “we don’t drink” stuff. I do however want to point out that there is absolutely no problem with expecting an outward change in the life of a believer. That change however, should be in line with the clear teaching of Scripture, not some artificial rule that appears to be wise but is just a man made preference. “Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” (Col. 2:32)

Alan said...

Keith,
Thanks for the great reporting on General Conference 08. I am taken back by the strong passing of memorial 116. I see this 'selling out' a historicaland and traditional stand of the holiness church. I don't think that it's too much to expect an outward change when we are imparted with saving grace. After all the Apostle Paul makes a strong case encourageing believers not to be conformed with the world but to be transformed by the renewing of the mind... I view the recent actions of the General Conference as an attack on the teaching of Biblical Holiness. A position of voting authority has been created for those who are not invested spiritually. What will be next? A term that we've become familur with is the 'dulling down of America' I belive that we have just witnessed a 'dulling down of the Wesleyan church'. This action will force some of us on the local level to evaluate wether there is still room in the Wesleyan Church for the preaching, teaching and expctation of heart purity. This has defined us long befor the merger of 1968.

Kevin Wright said...

What disturbs me the most is that it seems that this was driven more by pragmatism than it was theological reflection.

The Canfield Family said...

Thanks for all your comments and info that you are making available. I attend a church that did not go with the merger of 1968 (Pilgrim Holiness Church of New York, Inc.) and it is very interesting for me to look back and see what has historically happened to the Wesleyan Church in the past 40 years.

Keith Drury said...

Kevin, your charge is based on ignorance of the full debate... be careful of summarily dismissing the theological thinking of other people besides yourself. Indeed theological reflection on this subject has been occurring since you were twelve years old and I was still on the committees doing it. There are people who do theological reflection even when you are not present.

However, your charge is fair for SOME pastors and laity... true, they are pragmatic and ogore theology, but it is a false and unfair charge to make across the board... hope you get a full report of the several hundred hours of debate and study on this over the last few decades.

Ken said...

keith, i'm glad to hear this passed. it sounds very much like a resolution we passed at allendale two years ago, which gained the attention of headquarters. here's the resolution we passed back then:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Local Church Conference shall establish a voting process whereby it agrees to be bound to the combined vote of both community and covenant members in the following matters: the vote on the calling or renewal of the call of pastors or associate pastors, the election of members to the local board of administration, the election of nominating committee members and delegates to district conference. Actions taken by the Local Church Conference in regards to the aforementioned matters shall be ratified by a vote of the covenant members."


if i didn't know better, i'd say that someone from gc stole my script from two years ago... ;-)

Ken said...

keith, i'm glad to hear this passed. it sounds very much like a resolution we passed at allendale two years ago, which gained the attention of headquarters. here's the resolution we passed back then:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Local Church Conference shall establish a voting process whereby it agrees to be bound to the combined vote of both community and covenant members in the following matters: the vote on the calling or renewal of the call of pastors or associate pastors, the election of members to the local board of administration, the election of nominating committee members and delegates to district conference. Actions taken by the Local Church Conference in regards to the aforementioned matters shall be ratified by a vote of the covenant members."


if i didn't know better, i'd say that someone from gc stole my script from two years ago... ;-)

Keith Drury said...

Ken Schenck posted a report on this too... he considered this a more major change than I do... here is my comment on Ken's post:



Keith Drury said...
While I don't consider this a "major" decision (the major one to me was the original establishment of "Community membership" not this extension of voting rights) I do admit it is widely considered significant. So last year community members could vote on a new building, the budget setting the pastor's salary (or even establishing a salary at all for a youth pastor etc) and every other issue in the church, they now can vote on people too... like the pastor or board members (even though they cannot themselves be board members).

While it changes things "significantly" for the community members who had to quit voting when people issues came up, and it rescues pastors from the embarrassing steps of telling their Com members they can;t vote on this thing, I do not believe it will make major differences in the elections (we'll see if I'm right).

As to avoiding embarrassment, the pastor will still have to say "Sorry, you can vote on the board members, but you can;t be one" so there is not a great escape here from an awkward situation either.

BUT everyone believes this is a "major change"--conservative and progressive alike, so I suspect believing is reality..and your title is right ;-)

kerry said...

(This is a Johnny-come-lately comment.)

I voted for this because it is an "upgrading" of Community membership, both in privileges AND in responsibility. It has been overlooked by many that the old Community members did not have to be baptized or agree to the Articles of Faith---but the new Community Member standards require these. Community membership was sold to the 2000 GC as a discipleship tool, a rewrite of the old Preparatory membership category that was supposed to be temporary. The upgrading of Community membership is a recognition that it is permanent for many in the pews. But Covenant membership is still needed to exercise leadership.

Keith Drury said...

I know the headquarters "spin" on this is "upgrading community membership" and that is clever... but I believe it is just that--spin.

But the label one succeeds in imposing on a thing is all that often matters..and I suspect if enough DSs adopt the GS spin and repeat it enough that spin will prevail.