Tuesday, June 9, 2009

It’s “Believe Again” Time in Western Pennsylvania!

The Believe Again! Clergy Study Team, in conjunction with Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton, his Cabinet and the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry (BOOM) , has introduced a plan to develop and support Faithful, Effective and Fruitful clergy leaders in Western PA. --- from W. PA Annual Conference web site

The Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference gets underway this week at the Grove City College campus. There is lots of excitement in the air as the delegates and youth pages make their way to Grove City.

The pre-conference journal was sent out to all delegates providing important information as to what to expect in the proceedings by way of legislation and constitutional amendments which will impact the whole United Methodist denomination for decades to come.

Much attention is given to the ongoing “Believe Again” program which was launched in 2006. It was extremely detailed and as one moves through all this the distinct impression is given that it strangely resembles the style of legislation that our elected officials in Washington DC consider time after time – lots and lots of organization and details to muddle through – oh yes, lots of money involved too!

The purpose of this massive effort is to revive the churches, establish new congregations, and obviously to increase the membership of the conference which has been in decline for years.

A simple question was posed – I am challenged as were all W PA United Methodists to “Believe Again!” So, just what is it I am to believe?

Details of this issue are found under the title, Believe Again! OK! But What Is It I Am to Believe? Use reverse feature on your web browser to return here.

If the Lord lets me live a few more days, it will be 50 years on June 21 that I preached my first sermon in two Methodist churches in New Castle PA to which I had been appointed as a newly licensed supply pastor.

During that time I have seen many changes and attempts to make the church stronger and larger in size through numerous programs and various quadrennial emphases. At the end of each program – each emphasis – each slogan and rallying cry – the end result has always been the same – we are “weighed in the balances and found wanting!”

What hasn’t been faced and there will always be determined resistance to do so – the fact that the root problem is theological and has been ever since the beginning of the 20th Century. Although the Methodist Church experienced growth in the earlier decades of the century and then an increase of membership as a result of merger in 1968, the seeds of destruction had been sown and the bitter fruit of that sowing became obvious as we moved through the latter years of the 20th Century. We have now become a denomination that is tolerant of just about anything by way of warped, twisted, and perverted beliefs!

There will be lots of hoopla at the annual conferences meeting in these days of late spring and early summer. There will be lots of resolutions passed urging action be taken and things be done to insure that we will have utopia on earth while our membership continues to decrease with some few and rare exceptions in some conferences. But for the general church we’re still in free fall!

And in Western Pennsylvania, I’m still being challenged to “Believe Again!” And I ask, “OK, but what is it that I am to believe?” Actually, speaking for myself -- there was never a time that I didn't believe! Ever since Jesus Christ transformed my life a long time ago, I have kept my faith centered in Him as Savior and Lord -- there have been many lessons learned and many yet to learn in my growth experience. So, I really can't change what I am already doing -- I still believe as I have been doing for well over half a century!

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. --- 2 Timothy 4:3, 4


Dawn Rager said...

Pastor Clayton, why am I not surprised by this?

PA Maverick said...

Perhaps because you have developed a sensitivity and an ability to discern over time in regard to the erosion that has been taking place within the church -- there was a time long ago when pastors were very much in agreement about the fact that the Holy Spirit over centuries inspired a record of information that is totally trustworthy -- and that record has been preserved from generation to generation. Problem now is that many pastors do not believe this to be so -- if the "shepherd" is screwed up in his view of Scripture, what is going to happen to the flock under his "care?"