Saturday, September 30, 2006

property and the ABC and PSW

It is my understanding that everyone involved in the separation of the PSW from the ABCUSA is trying to work in good faith when it comes to property issues. That is a good thing as the region holds title to many church properties and it could turn into an ugly mess. From what I understand, they are working hard to honor the individual congregations. That is wonderful.

The questions I have, have to do with the property that was owned by the PSW. Much of it was given or paid for with money given with the understanding that the resources would belong to an ABC related organization. That includes millions of dollars worth of property in the camps and other assets. Why should it be assumed that these assets go with the new Transformation Ministries? The argument would be that they hold the titles and they are the successor organization to the American Baptist Churches of the Pacific Southwest. I would think that an argument could be made that because they are no longer related to the ABCUSA, they are an entirely new organization and that the American Baptists of the Pacific Southwest or whatever organization of American Baptist related churches in the Pacific Southwest is the true successor and that all of the assets should go to them.

The very fact that churches deeded their properties to the PSW is a testament to this. Most churches who deeded their property to the PSW did so to keep the property from leaving the ABC family. Look at the scenario. A church owns its property. An outside group wants to have a church in the area but cannot afford property. They all join the ABC church, outnumber its members, vote to withdraw from ABC and then own the property. To prevent this from happening, churches put their titles in the hands of the region. This is an analog of what has happened. For whatever reason (and the reason doesn't matter), a majority in the PSW has voted to withdraw from ABC and take the properties with them.

Now I am in no way implying that their was malice involved in the PSW's actions. The vast majority of the folk I know in PSW are people of integrity and deep commitment to following Jesus. Indeed, they would argue that they are following the true intent of the donors by continuing their mission. It is here that the discussion needs to take place. Perhaps they are. On the other hand, perhaps these generous folk of earlier generations really did have a commitment to the ABC. We are talking about serious resources here that will impact the way ministry is done and the potential impact of those ministries.

The analogy of divorce has been used more than once by leaders in PSW. Well, in a divorce, nobody walks away with all of the assets. These assets should all be on the table.


Dennis E. McFadden said...

The ethics of this still trouble me, my friend. As one who is most likely coming on to the board of TM in a few weeks, it bothers me a LOT. You articulate the points on both sides quite well. Truly, I have no clue where I stand on this issue. Thanks for raising the concern.

Anonymous said...

Hey, the denomination has left those folks who remained faithful to its original history and intent. Its the denomination who has left TM not the other way around. The integrity of the finances have been given by people who understood the denomination in its historical sense not in the twisted "soul liberty" sense that is being forced up on everyone.

roy said...

That is certainly the argument that is being made... whether it has merit is another question. Even Dale Salico has acknowledged that at the latest, these "current" ideas about soul liberty that you say are "being forced upon us" go back to the early 1900's. Wasn't it a 1907 policy statement that solidified the current understanding of soul liberty in ABC? I would argue that soul liberty is a concept that was central in the earliest Baptist thought. But even if it only goes back to 1907, to say that ABC left the TM and not the other way around is really pushing things.

Are we the same as the earliest Baptists. Absolutely not. Nor would we want to be. One example... the earliest Baptists believed that musical instruments were idolatrous. It was sacriledge to have an instrument of any kind in church. Does that reflect your ideas of worship?

FWIW, I learned my Baptist history under Norman Maring at EBTS and then as the pastor of Olde Pennepack, founded in 1688 and the mother church of the Philadelphia Association which was the mother association of all Baptist denominations. We were always having historians from ABC and the SBC coming by to see the place and to read its record books.