Thursday, December 5, 2013
Monday, November 25, 2013
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Monday, November 18, 2013
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Monday, November 11, 2013
Friday, October 4, 2013
From Dale, I’ve learned much history; but more, I’ve learned classic Christian values! From Warner’s World, this is walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
“An otherwise physically fit 43 year old man explained to the church that his blood pressure was dangerously high and his physician hadn’t been able to find a medicine which was effective for him. Obviously distressed, he asked for prayer. Instead of truly acknowledging the concern, a leader publicly replied, “Almost everybody has blood pressure problems.”
“We realize that, in general, Bulgarians do not easily show their feelings. We’ve also learned that many Christians here view the expression of intense sorrow as a lack of faith. We have repeatedly asked ourselves, “Are we trying to force our own cultural expectations on others, or is the heartfelt display of concern and support an essential component of Christian living?” We have seen the seeming lack of empathy inflict pain and damage relationships in our fellowship. We are convinced that compassion must transcend culture; it is the way of Christ.
“We can’t count the number of times we have addressed this issue in sermons, Bible studies, leadership meetings and individual conversations. Please lift up the grieving family and the man with the blood pressure problem, and also pray for us to persevere with “…compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12 (NASB)
“Perhaps the folks our age and older cannot learn a new way, but we cannot give up. We will continue to encourage the established members, while focusing our efforts on discipling younger believers. We want to challenge them to live lives which are consistent with the character of Christ. Among other things, they need to understand that David wept, Jeremiah wept, and Jesus himself wept. We too must sometimes weep, both for ourselves and for others. We hope one day to see an authentic Christian community – a fellowship of Bulgarian believers who will, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15 (NASB)”
Sunday, September 1, 2013
Psalm 24 makes a simple declaration that is in conflict with much of the modern world, especially the world of commerce (business). The author opens with a strong proclamation of God’s sovereignty over the earth and everything in it. Elsewhere, he acknowledges “the earth hath he given to the children of men,” (Psalm 115:16), BUT the common claim throughout the Bible is God’s claim that the earth and everything in it is his by his act of creation (cf Psalm 50:10). How we take care of our earthly resources is a theological issue with far deeper moral and ethical implications, rather than just being politically corrects or incorrect.
If you happen to be the CEO of an oil company or an energy corporation, you will likely challenge this, because you operate from a utilitarian basis of the “bottom line.” Your only concern is, is it profitable? The business world will accept a certain level of ethics in business, and you will even find courses that teach business ethics, but the driving force of business is profit and ethics is acceptable only as long as it does not interfere with profit.
I’m concerned, for example, HOW the profit motive is allowed to convince corporations that their “ownership” of certain lands gives them inalienable rights to use that land any way they choose, or from my perspective, abuse it. I’ve been seeing a rash of TV commercials that do what is “greenwashing”. According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, greenwashing is “disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image.” Energy companies do not want to change their modus operandi, so rather than change the kind of energy they produce, they “greenwash” coal, convincing us it is clean energy, when we know it is anything but clean.
Currently, Oil Companies promote natural gas as a suitable substitute to abundant clean energy. Natural gas is clean-er than coal, but insisting on greenwashing is a delay tactic to avoid going to renewable energy, AND increased investments in natural gas are only a bridge to a hot and dirty future. Oil Companies have discovered abundant natural gas available through a process called “fracking”. The Oil Company says they can do this safely. THE TRUTH IS, whether they can or not remains questionable; THE TRUTH IS although we have certain laws guaranteeing the public clean drinking water, in 2005 VP Dick Cheney, working with Oil Company Lobbyists, got an exemption to the SAFE DRINKING WATER ACT for the Oil Companies called the Cheney or Halliburton Loophole. This keeps federal regulators from enforcing the protective regulations of the SAFE WATER ACT.
The result is that fracking has exploded in 28 states. Fracked wells increased 41% across the country and shale gas fracking has gone up from 1% to 20%. Wells in Pennsylvania increased 600% from 2008 to 2010 and in Texas 3,000% from 1998 to to 2007.
WHAT IS FRACKING? Briefly, fracking is injecting a mix of water and poisonous chemicals into the ground that break up the Shale and rock to obtain gas that was not available to drillers until they learned this newer process. Now remember, drillers already have the HALLIBURTON LOOPHOLE, which means the public does not have the protecting regulations of the CLEAN WATER ACT being enforced.The chemicals used in fracking are kept secret from the public and local officials but analysts have identified 41 known chemicals with extreme toxicity (poisonous), 75% of which affect skin, eyes, sensory organs, respiratory and gastrointestinal systems. We are angry with Syria for using chemical welfare against innocent people. Well, how about fracking chemicals in your drinking water?
Radioactive wastewater from fracking has been found in the Monongahela River, threatening hundreds of thousands of innocent people in WVA, W. PA. In late 2011, explosions of earthquake proportion happened near certain Ohio drill sites. Fracking sometimes utilizes underground chemical “bomb-like” explosions and a single frack can require more than a million gallons of water, not to mention the injection of the chemicals that potentially threaten our water supplies. If we go to the trouble to recycle and avoid putting “hazardous wastes” into the earth so they do not disturb our water resources, why inject chemicals that will sicken people, even kill them? Certain people in PA even found their water on fire, coming out of the kitchen faucet.
How right is it to use our earth resources to endanger people’s health and very lives? How ethical is it to “greenwash” or spread information via advertising to convince people that an untruth is true? The last I knew that was called lying and no society can long survive when we can lo longer believe each other. How right is a profitable bottom line that creates people suffering headaches, experience blackouts, causes asthma sufferers to multiply, horses to go blind and cows to drop dead? A house in Pennsylvania blew up and killed three people. AND ALL THIS CHEAP NATURAL GAS IS TAKING INVESTMENT MONIES AWAY FROM RENEWABLE ENERGY AND FURTHER DELAYING OUR TRANSITION TO LEGITIMATELY CLEAN ENERGY.
The next time you hear DRILL, BABY DRILL! stop and think about who owns all of this, which I believe should determine how it is ultimately used. From Warner’s World, I am walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com
Thursday, August 29, 2013
We had the most telephones! The best gadgetry! We were the biggest, sweetest slice of Apple Pie on the hemisphere … until everybody wanted to be one of “us”.
Although midway through my eighth decade, and I do not remember ever living without emigrants. Our neighbors were Dutch, German, Polynesian, Yiddish, even First Americans; I didn’t mention Spanish ‘cause I didn’t know any back then.
We only recognize immigrants now because we want to rid ourselves of THEM; if they’re immigrants, they must be illegals … they all are. This political football gets kicked all directions these days … AND if we could just get rid of all the illegals, things would be okay!
I wonder! That’s like going to church where everybody is a charter member-- a homesteader—and we reject any membership applications from candidates unable to qualify as second generation Christians. NO n-e-w members, unless you come in through the right channel.
Harry Sanford was a friendly neighbor. I walked past his house every school day, en route to Indiana Avenue School in South Haven, MI. He was just another black guy, until I discovered his Polynesian roots. I could not deny the beauty of his two daughters, a little older than me--two of the most beautiful females I ever met.
In my adolescence, the Zwars’ came to our church after escaping Hitler’s horrors. White Europeans: they attended our white church. We were pleased … until we were horrified because they kept their old country custom of brewing beer in their basement. I have no idea how that turned out, except we were teetotalers.
Ewald Wolfram was a beloved and outstanding church leader. One of my favorite preachers, he was a fellow student, and a near neighbor when growing up. In time, I discovered his East Prussian roots and how his family and others escaped to America, accompanied by their Church of God faith and fervor.
Does this make me “liberal”! A dreamer? I am hard-nosed realist enough, as a man of faith, to believe God meant what he said when he expressed great concern for foreigners and aliens. Moses instructed ancient Israel to love the aliens in their midst (Deuteronomy 10:19): treat them as if they were citizens (Leviticus 19:34). The Bible’s bluntness startled me when re-read that word in Deuteronomy. The purpose of such treatment was so ”they can listen and learn to fear the Lord your God (Deut. 31:12).
not as the world views them . . .
legal or illegal.
Sunday, August 18, 2013
He wondered if Camp Meetings are like Sunday night services ... something that had its time but its time has passed. Whatever the case, we need to dialogue his question as to “…what is the purpose of Camp Meetings today?”
I would be the first to admit that few people use camp meeting for leadership training, or Christian Education, or Missionary Education anymore. As a child I was thrilled beyond measure when exposed to Warren and Frances Edmondson, raising funds to go abroad. Warren was killed following that camp but Frances married Bob Clark and they spent a lifetime in Missionary Service. Now, the feature service on Missionary Day at Warner Camp can scarcely draw 50-75 people, and that mostly Christian Women’s Connection.
Most camps I know have scaled back to a family vacation, a purpose I neither minimize nor want neglected, but that is not our primary focus as people of God. Bill wrote after attending Charlevoix, St. Louis, and Payne, Ohio. Add Demetrius Booker being at Warner camp and I have to say “We can’t be more historical than this, if our purpose is teaching history and maintaining a museum.” Bill had a scheduling conflict, but he did send Demetrius, one of very few blacks attending Warner this year, and I didn’t see many more at St. Louis—we were pretty colorless, if I do say so (a whole other story)!
Our CM Boards are limping along as best they can, with totally inadequate resources. The house at Grand Junction that was the home of D. S. Warner is badly deteriorated after we restored it in 1992 to the best of our financial ability. NOW, if repaired, it will be, at best, a restored farm house, a onetime historic relic that was a pretty nice Queen Anne style home occupied by D. S. Warner. BUT, we disgrace him and our message by our limp-along efforts, so I took it upon myself in annual business session in 2012 to make the motion empowering the Trustee Board to restore if able or destroy and build a fitting facility commensurate with the needs of our camping program—as a memorial. DO WHAT THEY NEED TO DO!
Monday, August 12, 2013
Emily is a committed Christian. She has achieved an excellent education! Emily is competent to go wherever she is called, but she has chosen a place that captured my fancy back in 1985 when I drove to South Dakota and spent one week as the person in charge of our Mission at Wounded Knee; the real Mission Agent at that time was away at the national gathering of Native American Mission leaders. That gave me a learning experience I never forgot. It taught me much I did not know before—especially just how little I really knew about our First American culture. I married an Oklahoman with considerable Cherokee in her. Her father travelled the Trail of Tears from NC to AR as a boy and later served as an interpreter in the Indian Court, but this was a new education for me, and I discovered just how much I did not know.
In Anderson, I learned of Emily’s passion for Wounded Knee and her intention of “Fulfilling the Promise.” This became my chance to give Emily a small boost by sharing her dream with YOU. The Lakota people of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota have long lived under the shadow of broken promises; I went there not really believing that. The United States government offered the tribe treaties promising that they could keep their land, their language, and their traditional way of life; unfortunately the government broke these promises. This betrayal left the Lakota unable to thrive as they once had on the prairie and resulted in a new way of life in which these people struggled to survive. The effects of that betrayal are still evident in the difficulties of daily life on Pine Ridge. Shannon County, home to most of Pine Ridge, is one of the poorest counties in America—80% of the population lives below the poverty line. The unemployment rate is around 85%. The rate of teen suicide on the reservation is 150% higher than off the reservation. The high school dropout rate is 70%. The life expectancy for the reservation is 48 for men and 52 for women.
In the midst of this dark reality, the Wounded Knee Church of God on Pine Ridge stands as a testimony to a different kind of promise—not the promise of government treaties, but the promise of God’s kingdom (It is the “only” church mission utilizing Native American architecture). Theirs is a promise that the hope of the gospel means life can be brighter in Pine Ridge. Pastor Stanley Hollow Horn believes that Wounded Knee Church of God can make these promises a reality for his hurting community; however, he knows he cannot do it alone. He shared his dream with the good folk at Germantown, Ohio and they have LAUNCHED AN EXCITING NEW PROJECT AT WOUNDED KNEE CALLED “THE PLACE OF PROMISE.”
The Place of Promise will be a community center located on the church property. Here, the community can come together in healthy ways. Children can play a game of basketball, women can exercise, and youth can learn new skills. This facility will provide accessible offices for the church, serve as an outlet for ministry and outreach, and, most importantly, stand as a symbol to the promise of hope for Pine Ridge. Here, the broken promises plaguing the reservation for over a century will fade away and people can experience the tangible, eternal promises of God.
ANYONE wishing to help FULFILL THE PROMISE please contact the First Church of God in Germantown, Ohio at 937-855-6907 for more information. OR, VISIT placeofpromisewoundedknee.com.
Here is where Emily comes in (I didn’t forget her). SHE WILL BE AVAILABLE TO SPEAK, BEGINNING IN SEPEMBER--TO YOUR CHURCH-- YOUR SMALL GROUP--OR BUSINESS. When I baptized this happy, freckle-faced little red-headed girl from Kalamazoo into the waters of Lester Lake that long ago, I had no idea where following Christ was going to lead her. Since that time she has spent time at Wounded Knee and has plans for investing some of the most significant time of her young life at Pine Ridge Reservation and there she will give loving service.
You can contact Emily at emily.clark05@gmail or call her at 269-312-0837. Project leaders are looking for people willing to make a five-year financial commitment of some kind, to help make this promise a sustained reality. The Place of Promise (pictured at the top of the page) is a dream quickly becoming a physical reality, but in order to stand against darkness we depend on the light that comes from the whole community of God.
From Warner’s World, this is walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com asking you who can to support Emily in this vey worthwhile project. I thank you; Emily thanks you, and the project leaders at Germantown thank you . . . :-)
Sunday, July 21, 2013
The 121st camp meeting assembled at Grand Junction, MI just as it has since those earlier days when D. S. Warner and company fished in the waters of Lester Lake. Stories have become legend reporting the passage of small groups of Trumpet Workers making their way from the Church of God Saints embryonic publishing plant in Grand Junction, walking north along the railroad track, and then hiking that sandy trail over through a thick grove of huge trees, skirting the little farm and trekking down to water’s edge at Lester Lake for a few hours of leisurely meditation, fellowship – even a little fishing. It doesn’t sound very spiritual but they might take back a few dozen, or perhaps a-hundred fifty tasty fish. Noah Byrum even reported that non-religious but eventful day when George (I think it was) Cole reported a five-pound Bass flopping out of the water and into their boat. I’d like to have seen the look on his face, except this was NO urban legend.
Lester Lake and Warner Memorial Camp were the kind of places Ed and Nonie Schweikert loved to visit. It was little surprise to arrive this year and discover the Schweikerts already inhabiting this Church of God encampment. I’m not sure who all they had in their company, but I visited with both Nonie and her sister and we revisited scenes from the past in their Ohio days. I watched Silver guide her family about; she was one of our talented youth when I first met her. I was in company with longtime friend Bill Miller and we were headed to Ontario, Canada camp meeting where Bill would serve as a liason representing the Church of God in Michigan. We were sharing the good fellowship in Thamesford, where I would make many new friends. Bill had brought Silver for reasons beyond my challenged memory. What I most remember is that it was a trip I would joyfully repeat several more times before I retired.
I was never much of a camper, but Ed was, as I suspect a lot of Ed’s youthful friends would agree. The only time I was ever in Ed’s home, I recall my amazement and pleasure at viewing his A-frame home in Owosso. I envied his knowledge and building skills. It was always a pleasure to encounter Ed or Nonie at Camp Meeting, and whereas I could often be seen sitting in some solitary place just pondering the status quo of things; any time you saw Ed he was either in a huddle of hilarious adults, or he was overwhelming you with his latest “Did I tell you about . . .?”, or he could be seen in the Dining Hall or out under the trees with a small group of enthralled children showing them one of his disappearing card routines, or some other mysterious act that he was so talented at inventing.
This year was no exception; Ed was just Ed … a little slower … obviously a little older, but he was in circumstances that he loved, among people with whom he had shared much of his life; and he was doing things for which he has long been noteworthy. Thus, we all found it abrupt, confrontational, and shocking when the leader of that evening service informed us that Ed Schweikert had suddenly left our company, fled our laughter and hilarity at his jokes, leaving children still marveling at his mysteries now stunned at his quick departure – Ed had gone to his final resting place, THAT PLACE for which he had been preparing assiduously throughout more than fifty years of Christian Ministry. Oh, we talked among ourselves, as we covered up our shock and talked about the necessary grief of the family. He had touched us one and all. Someone described Ed preaching his final sermon last Sunday, at South Haven, and the fact that because the regular sound person was at camp meeting instead of being at home, they had not recorded his sermon.
Be whatever that may be; Ed preached his final sermon this week at Warner Camp. It had a lot of different components to it. It left out no one, and it included all, from the oldest Saint on the grounds to the youngest grandchild. It was Ed spending his last days at a place he dearly loved, with its side trips over to Lake Michigan and whatever else there might be. He was with people he loved more than life itself, doing things he most enjoyed. It was almost reminiscent of an earlier day when our fearless Camp Director privately confided to some of us that he would be leaving us before camp broke-up that week--a few years back. It happened just like Ray said it would, leaving a safe-deposit vault full of memories and valued experiences. We were equally shocked when Ed left us too suddenly. We feel the pain of that sudden separation, but we do not grieve as those who have no hope.
We rejoice in the hope of our Lord’s promises. We feel some of that separation the family currently feels, but we rejoice in the beauty of the circumstances. We all face that final appointment when we step around that unseen corner of tomorrow—from which there is no return. But, we should all be so fortunate as to be in such a great company of friends and family, and in such loving, fun-filled, and meaningful circumstances as last week’s camp meeting. We all learned a lot about Christian Living from Ed Schweikert and we can learn a few lessons on how to spend our final days before death overtakes us.
Thanks Ed, for your company, and your valuable lessons; we rejoice in your promotion … So-long, for now … from Warner’s World, this is walkingwithwarner.blogspot,com
Sunday, June 16, 2013
Jeremy Scahill describes the early stages of what we now consider the America’s disgraceful political prison at Guantanamo—Gitmo. Scahill writes,
“The CIA began secretly holding prisoners in Afghanistan on the edge of Bagram Airfield, which had been commandeered by US military forces. In the beginning, it was an ad hoc operation with prisoners stuffed into shipping containers. Eventually, it expanded to a handful of other discrete sites, among them an underground prison near the Kabul airport and an old brick factory north of Kabul. Doubling as a CIA substation, the factory became known as the “Salt Pit” and would be used to house prisoners, including those who had been snatched in other countries and brought to Afghanistan. CIA officials who worked on counterterrorism in the early days after 9/11 said that the idea for a network of secret prisons around the world was not initially a big-picture plan, but rather evolved as the scope of operations grew. The CIA had first looked into using naval vessels and remote islands.—such as uninhabited islands dotting Lake Kariba in Zambia—as possible detention sites at which to interrogate suspected al Qaeda operatives. Eventually, the CIA would build up its own net work of secret “black sites” in at least eight countries, including Thailand, Poland, Romania, Mauritania, Lithuania and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.
“But, in the beginning, lacking its own secret prisons, the Agency began funneling suspects to Egypt, Morocco and Jordan for interrogation. By using foreign intelligence services, prisoners could be freely tortured without any messy congressional inquiries
“In the early stages of GST program, the Bush administration faced little obstruction from Congress. Democrats and Rep0ublicans alike gave tremendous latitude to the administration to prosecute its secret war. For its part, the White House at times refused to provide details of its covert operations to the relevant congressional oversight committees but met little protest for its reticence. The administration also unilaterally decided to reduce the elite Gang of Eight members of Congress to just four: the chairs and ranking members of the House and Senate intelligence committees. These members are prohibited from discussing these briefings with anyone. In effect, it meant that Congress had no oversight of the GST program. And that was exactly how Cheney wanted it.
“… As the new kill/capture program began to kick into full gear in late 2001, the CIA’s number-three man at the time, Buzzy Krongard, declared the ‘war on terror’ would be won in large measure by forces you do not know about. . .” (p26-27 DIRTY WARS/NY/Nation Books/2013)
This Father’s Day 2013 Jeremy Scahill describes a nation I no longer recognize, nor is it one I can recommend to those I love most. My father served proudly in the Coast Guard, a great tradition on Lake Michigan shorelines. I served a partial hitch in the Air Force, which is no longer about flying planes but flying drones in covert operations from many miles away.
Scahill further reminds us we live in a world that thrives on war rather than peace, where politicians spend their careers protecting their profits gained either from special interest lobbyists that own their souls, or fostering “Black Budget” funds to fortify Navy SEALS, Delta Force, Blackwater, “Special Operations” forces ad infinitum - covert wars against a “war on terror” that exists only in the minds of the war-mongers themselves. Much of it is being fought by “operations, operators, and paid mercenaries” that do not exist anywhere on paper or politic, while we continue to maintain a façade of diplomacy and transparency.
Anyone having second thoughts of conscience, anyone daring to leak out a secret (classified so it cannot become public information and ruin our reputation for transparency) faces losing everything to become an unknown entity without a country, or prison, or political suicide, or life-on-the-run.
So, we have become a country that fights wars wherever we choose, because we are the world’s whipping boy; we justify torture because the end justifies the means; we spy on our own citizens via constitutional government that is no longer of-by-for the people, but the people in office. We have political prisoners that we can imprison for life, without charges, and we force-feed them to keep them alive and without hope—talk about HELL…
When I pass into whatever future God has for us, I want my grandsons to know that there was once a people on these shores who governed by-of-and-for the people as the land of the free, a place where differences were at least tolerated and opportunity primarily equal.These people loved God and respected one another; they didn’t always worship the same, but neither did they worship Satan.
Charles G. Finney was trained as a legal expert, a lawyer, until he thought better of it and dedicated his abilities to God and became one of the all-time great exponents of the bible and right-living. Could Dr. Finney speak to us today, he might dust off a sermon he preached from the text in Ecclesiastes 9:3: “Madness is in their hearts while they live…” He might also conclude, madness fills our hearts if and when we listen to THEM . . .
I take comfort in the words of Jesus when he said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God” and find life that will be found no where else but in following Jesus (Matthew 6:33). From Warner’s World, this is walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com He has not failed me yet.
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
I ran across the following blog from my friend, now my new pastor, which I believe deserves a modest response in a different context. Jeff Eckman wrote his Midland congregation in the context of where they were at that time. He wrote, “While Studying for my sermon I was reminded why Democracy is not necessarily the leadership style of choice for God’s People.”
Jeff makes his point, in the context of their relationship, but I want to respond in a different context. Jeff continued, “Before you shoot me as a communist, remember that we live in a Republic, and though we often throw around the term “Democracy” and seem to be trying to create Democracy in other countries, this country is not one. Democracy means mass rule. Whatever the majority wants, the majority gets. It doesn’t matter if the Majority is right or wrong, or whether what they want is the best thing for everyone (or anyone for that matter), they get what they want because they have a majority.
“When the children of Israel sent the 12 spies into the promised land to spy out the land and bring back a report, there we two spies who had faith that God would allow them to succeed if they followed him. God had promised the land to the descendants of Abraham for hundreds of years. God’s will was clear. They were to move forward and conquer the land. Unfortunately, what started as a fact-finding mission for strategy sake, turned into an opportunity for disobedience when the other 10 spies, talked about the giants in the land and all of the difficulties they would have if they moved forward. Suddenly, moving forward to take the land, which was obviously the will of God, became negotiable, and the people chose not to go. Democracy wins, but the people of God didn’t.
“The vast majority of people in this world are not going to lead forward with vision and faith. I believe God appoints leaders for that purpose, but if the system being used in the church functions as a democracy, those visionary leaders will almost always be overruled by those who are busy looking at the road blocks and not the opportunities. These are good people mind you, and many of them will offer the excuse that they are simply counting the cost. While it is important to plan and look forward, it is sometimes impossible to predict everything that the future holds, especially when you serve a God who can part the Red Sea. Where God leads, He will provide a way, but the majority will very seldom vote to do what is challenging or difficult, and as a result they often reject the leading of their leaders in favor of the comfort of the status quo. For Israel, that meant wandering in the wilderness until an entire generation died off.
“Only when we learn to trust and follow godly leaders, will we begin to move forward on God’s timetable. Mass rule WILL leave us disappointed in the desert” (emphasis added). I agree with Jeff’s conclusion, but I also see another perspective having grown up with what the church called “charismatic government” (our church polity). F. G. Smith was the great proponent of this, but, as it turns out, there came a day when Smith found his leadership challenged by a democratic surge that was the new Ministerial Assembly.
This “Assembly” challenged the old rule of the select few of the inner circle. It eventually replaced Smith as Editor of the Gospel Trumpet (with all the perks of being the ruling Bishop) and the new Editor, C. E. Brown, introduced a new era of democratic protocol in which the General Assembly assumed more responsibility and diversified the leadership roles. In the process of this happening, Smith introduced a measure to have his “writings” accepted as the official doctrine of the Church of God, a measure entirely contrary to all that Smith (and everyone else) taught through the years, a measure that would have been a great abuse of power.
It had been this same narrow sharing of leadership that had allowed Smith and Riggle to dominate the new Missionary Board which resulted in the unfortunate “firing” of one of our finest of missionaries, G. P. Tasker.
It was this same limiting of leadership that resulted in the autocratic release of a large group of local Church members in one of our church communities, which resulted in a schism (a worship war) in which the pastor created the changes he wanted for the congregation, but it resulted in a divided congregation with a new group hiving off, their community witness effectively damaged for years to come, and other unfortunate results.
Jeff is right; democracy is not the panacea, the cure-all of church polity, but the autocratic leadership with the corporate CEO as the model is not the answer either. I, for one, believe the role of pastor is a God-given gift to the church. On the other hand, I suggest that “God’s direction” is most often found within the collective wisdom of the people—the church body. The Spirit of God resides within that body known as the people of God, and while God always finds a Moses around somewhere in the process, God is by no means chained to the pulpit or confined to the clergy.
To say it another way, my most meaningful experiences as a pastor came not when I proclaimed my “thus saith the Lord” or when I prayed for a serious need or healing; rather, it came when we (pastor and congregation) mutually prayed, petitioned, sought guidance, and listened for the still small voice of God, and all obeyed.
We Americans tend to overrate Christian individualism and underrate the collective wisdom of the Church Body. From Warner’s World, this is firstname.lastname@example.org