"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Grace under Siege 68: Questionnaire from the Supporters of the Statement of Faith

NOTE: Of the 30 elders, only Chuck Horton and Keith Benson signed and returned this document.
From Concerned Members of
Grace Brethren Church
Of Long Beach

December 16, 2011
Dear Elder or Prospective Elder:
            This letter comes to you from some current elders, four prior chairmen of the elder board, eight missionaries and former pastors of this church, at least sixteen former elders, long time members and concerned individuals that are supporters of the Statement of Faith (the “Supporters”).  There are now well over 100 Supporters.  This letter is sent to you on their behalf. 
            We believe that the pastoral staff and members of the EBOE have not been following the church’s bylaws, which they are required to do by the California Corporations Code.  We believe that one example is their failure to properly qualify candidates for the office of elder.  As a result, some of you do not qualify to be an elder because you do not accept as true all of the tenets of our Statement of Faith.
Article II, Section C, Statement of Faith, has the following introductory statement:
The Statement of Faith under which this church exists, by which its Members associate themselves as a distinct body, and which every Member must accept, is composed of belief in the following:  (emphasis ours)  
Our by-laws furnish the reason that this is so critical: “in order to preserve the doctrinal unity of this local church.” It is this failure, this lack of a thorough examination of potential members and elders that has led to the disunity that our church currently faces.  Acceptance of the Statement of Faith is a covenant of each member to every other member that they personally believe that each and every proposition in the statement of Faith is true.  The necessary corollary is that a person must believe that any proposition that is contrary to or in conflict with any proposition in the Statement of Faith is not true. 
During the nominating process, some of you objected to paragraph 9 of the Statement of Faith dealing with end times.  Paragraph 9 provides as follows:
Future Plans of God.  Jesus Christ is coming back before the Tribulation to remove His Church to heaven.  Following the Tribulation period of seven years, He will return to this earth with His saints and angels to rule and reign for 1,000 years after which “eternity future” follows.  (Daniel 9:24-27; Matthew 24:15-31; 1 Thessalonians 1:10, 4:13-18, 5:1-9; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; Revelation 3:10, 19:11-16, 20:4-6, 21-22).
If a person does not believe that this is true, then such a person cannot be an elder.  Nevertheless, some of you were allowed to become or remain an elder contrary to the bylaws and Statement of Faith.  You were told that you merely had to acknowledge that this is the position of the church and that you personally need not hold this position.  That is not true.  If that is your belief, you cannot sign the enclosed declaration.
Next month you are set for affirmation.  You must get 2/3 affirmative vote to be affirmed.  Enclosed is a declaration for you to sign and return in the envelope provided.  If you cannot sign this declaration in good conscience towards God, you should withdraw your name from consideration.  In the event that you do not sign and return it by December 30th, we will submit your name to the EBOE as being unqualified to be an elder because you do not possess the requisite belief(s) in our Statement of Faith as required by our bylaws.
To be clear, if you do not accept as true all of the propositions in the Statement of Faith and believe that any propositions contrary to or conflicting with the statement of Faith are false, then you cannot be an elder of this church.   Please print and sign your name at the bottom of the declaration and return it in the envelope provided.  You may fax your declaration to [--] or you can scan and e-mail it back to indicate that the original is in the mail.  However, in all events, we will need to have the original with a “wet” signature. 
We will report to the Supporters the names of those who have returned the declaration with a “wet” signature.  We will ask each of them to go before the Lord and ask for His direction in how to vote in the meeting of the congregation.   

John T. Anderson, Richard Byrd, Terry L. Polley*
on behalf of The Supporters of the Statement of Faith  

*[Bear], [Faithful], and [Straight Shooter]

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