Monday, September 7, 2009

Integrity In the Church

Attended church…fixed lunch and spent the p.m. watching recent video’s of the Memorial Service of Bill Shrout in WPC's McGuire Auditorium. Bill married Julie (Julia Hilda Honeycutt) 62 years ago, the day before I married my spouse. The girls lived at High St. Dorm as AU students.

Flashbacks include overnight at the Shrouts--Amarillo, TX early 50’s, visitations at NAC, church leaders met on our journey, conversations about problems when struggling with debacles at Warner Press, Church Extension, et al.“Nowhere is the character crunch more critical than in today’s church,” wrote someone recently.(1)

BILL SHROUT--whatever his politics--was a man of integrity--a fun-loving man of faith and family. Shrout belonged to a Church culture that put self on the line rather than compromise integrity. He demanded it of himself, taught it to his family, and expected it of his church. His absence leaves us hitching ourselves together trying to take up the slack that he left.

Bill challenges me to reexamine myself, my integrity, and the integrity of “our church.” I see denominational successes, but I see integrity compromised--progress and public image. I see material successes, national recognition gained, personal advantages sought, but I fail to see stalwarts putting themselves on the line.

What we most need are humble disciples with the faith and fortitude to stand, even if failing--just because it is right, people of impeccable integrity who will stand for principle, even if it means bearing a cross (like Jesus).

Bill was such a man. He was part of a church culture that produced such people of impeccable integrity! Two that greatly impacted me were A.F. Gray and O. F. Linn. President Gray accepted me as an unproved student and gave me opportunity to redeem myself. He believed in his foundling Bible College enough to relinquish his salary to meet a financial crunch.

Gray hired teachers like Otto F. Linn, who dared to quietly face the political winds in the church and teach a better way of proclaiming our Church of God quest for holiness and unity than that of F. G. Smith.

Whereas Smith would have imprisoned the church in his compelling-but-contradictory come-out theology and final reformationism, Linn paid his dues academically and politically, but helped many of us better understand the true church. Linn could willingly mortgage his home to meet his faculty payroll on more than one occasion, but he brought a living bible to life for his students, of whom I am among the less significant.

Bill’s life supported what Winston Churchill proclaimed, “Never give in! Never give in! Never, never, never, never--in nothing great or small, large or petty--never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.

This is Wayne at Walking With Warner, reminding himself that friends like Bill come at a premium, but they pay rich dividends.

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