Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Response to Christian Century Report

Christian Century July 28, 2009 reported on the action at our Biennial. This was my response to them.


I suppose I should be pleased that the national gathering of so small a denomination as the American Baptist Churches USA captured the attention of Christian Century, but the title of your news article is wrong and some of the content is misleading.

While a solid majority of delegates supported the reorganization proposal, it fell short of the required 2/3rds. Loyal American Baptists--from Left, Right, and Middle--objected to the proposal for different reasons (some of which you accurately reported). However, to imply this event was one more Left-Right divide is a gross oversimplification. There were many more reasons for rejecting the proposal than ideology.

Further, the description of marginalized progressives as if it were their peculiar lot is an inaccurate description of this denomination. Significant numbers of loyal American Baptists feel marginalized and disempowered. While our work at diversity has made good progress, we have not succeeded so well in becoming a cohesive Body of Christ.

I believe that it is also worth remembering that "delegates" to the Biennial are self-selected; that the number comprised less than 1% of American Baptist; and they have no obligation to represent their church of origin.

Still, thank you for taking time to pay attention to a denomination that is generally on the right edge of mainline and on the left edge of evangelical.

Dwight Stinnett
Executive Minister
American Baptist Churches of the Great Rivers Region