Friday, July 3, 2009

NAC Roundup 09

As I write, I’m listening to the USAF Thunderbirds exhibiting their skills in the skies above Kellogg Airport on Battle Creek’s Westside. My wife frequently served these young men during our working years in bi-vocational ministry. Fine young men! Highly skilled! Deeply motivated! As I listen now, I can only imagine the terror of trying to escape the wrath of our aircraft in countries where we have military personnel (one of the team just flew directly overhead). War is a totally no-win situation for everyone.

I remember the year we watched the XB70 experimental bomber fly into Fort Worth from southern California. It overshot FtW. Turning around took it to Shreveport, LA and back. We used to watch the air shows with great fascination; today I cringe in horror at man’s inhumanities to other men.

We have now completed NAC 09, the 123rd, they say. The first such event actually took place two miles north of Bangor, MI in 1883, small by comparison, but a beginning. My father’s mentor, Sebastian Michels, furnished the kitchen and provisions, aided by volunteers.

We--wife and I--did what we went to Anderson to do: manage the book tent for Reformation Publishers (I’ll be there in a few days). That allowed Dr. Williams to do what he and Martha needed to do. It provided us wonderful times of fellowship, as well as enjoy the hospitality of Dale and Cheryl Stultz at Timber Rick.

We took care of necessary balloting before going--absentee--knowing we would miss GA. I am deeply dissatisfied with the inequality of our non-representative GA governing body. I strongly support our congregational polity. I fail to understand the one-way communication between Anderson and “the field.” There are deep flaws to discuss and correct. Meantime, I am a team player who deeply believes in Paul‘s biblical body language (the politics may be something else).

Reports seemingly indicate service attendance up. I was not too keen about being “overflow” and attending a movie--I am not a movie fan! That did not prove as painful as I feared.

I deeply appreciate Yerden, Nicholson, et al for the Heritage Sing. Having met Eddie Cumberbatch in Michigan a year or two ago, he made this event the highlight of the year for us. I am learning to enjoy portions of the 7-11 music, and even finding some worthwhile words in the contemporary worship style--WHEN I CAN HEAR THE WORDS. I continue to be “appalled” at the insistence of the sound experts and their lack of ability (or unwillingness) to stem the abusive assault on people’s eardrums and nervous systems.

One “Anderson Institution,” who shall remain anonymous, was overheard to say to another, “Your ears can only stand about so much!” This gentle, soft-spoken leader would not be caught dead being critical of the establishment. It amused me, and reassured me I was not so far off base as I sometimes fear being, knowing I tend to be outspoken.

We enjoyed parts of Friday evening’s hosting by AU, but the sound was at times so unbearable that we refrained from most of the evening services. It left me feeling exhausted and irritable. It took my unwell wife until Wednesday before she recovered from the "bouncing-eyeball effect" of the assault on the senses.

I commend the Program Committee for some excellent programming under some discouraging circumstances. It all went reasonably well, and while there are issues I want to discuss further, I want to give the general program a thumbs up for the opportunity for “spiritual growth, fellowship, and renewal” (p1, Roundup).

The theme of living out our faith was most appropro. It was fitting that we celebrate the global Communion, so ably led by friend Bob Moss. Dr. Milton Grannum, a product of our cooperative Global Missions effort, has served long enough to more than prove the worth of our cooperative efforts together--global missions being just one such effort (some of us remember the 6‘ 7“ missionary that helped launch Milton Grannum.

Dr. Grannum’s testimonial sermon and “thank you” thrilled many and underscored our need for more accountability to each other. That brings me to our practice of biblical unity--a core value among us. We have some difficulty expressing our unity together, fearing to become accountable (to each other and to “Anderson”) in our congregational polity and our unhealthy individualism.

We are becoming better at expressing our unity (with equality) with nationals like Grannum, Cumberbatch, and others. I found it most interesting to talk with Mrs. Kroger (spelling unsure). A Dane, she married a German, and together they lead the Church of God in Germany. From outside of our own fellowship, we had Dr. Milfred Minitrea as a guest leader and speaker. He and I talked a year or two back about being fellow alum of SWBTS (a So. Baptist institution), which brings me to say this regarding our practice of unity.

Because of some of our early teachings, we find it so easy to preach Christian Unity and so difficult to practice. We are still finding our way extending equality to the Church of God outside of the United States; we do not forget we control many purse strings. Thus, we tend to want things our way. We fail dreadfully when it comes to practicing unity with “Babylon” (the denominational world) and people who do are either liberal or do not understand “the church.”

I still believe in reformation principles, as well as the Believer’s Church--and holiness, et al. BUT, we can improve our praxis (practice) by coming to a better understanding of how to practice D.S. Warner’s message of “come-outism”. John Winebrenner found himself an outcast because he cooperated with Methodists in revivals. Likewise, G.P. Tasker found himself fired by the Church of God Missionary Board in 1924 because he was preaching and teaching outside the pale of Church of God, Anderson influence.

From Warner's World, I suggest it is time for us to grow up, mature, and actually “live out the love of Christ,” both inside and outside of Christendom!

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