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W.PA Evangelicals Say "No Compromise Of The Gospel" With Compromise On Homosexuality Statement

Date: Sat, 10 Jun 2000 23:42:07 -0400
From: "Dale Shunk"
Subject: Re: [NEJEC] What happened at W. Pa. annual conference

Dear brother Dick,

Thank you for the inquiry, because what you read on the C R Page is not always the best view of the "Range". Our friend Clayton Harriger was not involved in the two meetings prior to Annual Conference that we had with the Reconciling Congregations representatives and the MFSA.

Here is a brief outline of what happened.

1. Last year there was a P91, authored by the Reconciling Task Force, that called the Conference to cease fire on arguing and acknowledge that there are hurting people among the heterosexuals and homosexuals who need loving ministry and not rejection. It was defeated because it included baptismal language that our Evangelicals could not agree with and statements about sexual minorities that we thought too political.

2. Some of our brothers and sisters who have been getting some training from the Transforming Congregations Team with James Gentile came to me asking if we could modify P91 and submit it in 2000 as a joint statement saying that all persons are of sacred worth and that we should stop just talking about our differences,confess our lack of genuine love, and start to do ministry among a wider group of people who are sexually abused, addicted, divorced, among both the homosexual and heterosexual circles. We had two meetings and worked out a new P91, but two days before the submission deadline MFSA backed out saying they needed more time for their people to understand the document and sign on. The new P91 was not sent to the Conference Secretary.

3. What we did not know was that MFSA submitted their own P91 condemning "reparative therapy" and any means to change the homosexual from his or her lifestyle. We were deeply disappointed, and decided that the only way to introduce the new P91 now was by substitution because otherwise it would be out of order since it did not go through the Legislative Section process. That did not work in the Section meeting as the leader ruled the new P91 not germane to the issue and could not be a substitute. The Section voted "non-concurrence" to P91.

4. The next day Bishop Bashore suggested that we can only ask for a Suspension of the Rules to submit any new piece of legislation. So we prepared the new P91, made 2000 copies and distributed them to the delegates.

5. Just two hours before Section 9 was to bring P91 off the consent calendar for discussion, Sally Jo Snyder, the Chair of MFSA in WPA came to me asking to sign on. They would agree not to take P91 off the Consent Calendar, and that they could sign on with us. After some adjustments we agreed in the interest of getting on to ministry and diffusing the hostility. One of the MFSA pastors mistakenly asked for our P91 to be a substitute when they declined their own P91, but we went on to suspend the rules and submit the new P91 as new legislation. It was further amended and accepted by a two thirds vote. It was clearly a two thirds vote in spite of Clayton's viewpoint sitting in the back.

6. This new development does not mean we have caved in, or compromised our evangelical theology. The document must be followed according to the 2000 Book of Discipline which is very clear about homosexual behavior. We will be getting to know each other as colleagues in ministry better over the next year and some of the MFSA group have already indicated to Evangelist Dick Burns that they will attend the Training seminar in October we are planning to help pastors, youth workers and other laity how to minister the transforming grace of God among those who are sexually broken. James Gentile will be the main presenter. Prior to this agreement at our AC we would not have seen such openness. MFSA knows that we do not agree with their simple "welcoming of all persons without moral responsibility" approach, and we will not condone the practice of homosexuality.

7. The WPA Evangelical Connection has just elected a very dedicated, godly leadership with Dr. Allyn Ricketts, Pres, Rev. Doug Burns, VP, Rev. Robert Zilhaver, Treas, and Rev. Andy Verner, as Sec. They are among a Board of 24 pastors and laity who will continue to be a strong voice for the authority of the Word of God, the sanctity of all life, especially the unborn, and for evangelistic ministries that provides and encounter with the life changing Savior Jesus Christ.

I hope that this is helpful, and I am very sad that we are perceived as compromising the Gospel or dishonoring our Lord Jesus Christ.   I guess that is the risk of leadership. If you think we are totally wrong please point out what you see is still troubling to you.

Love all, worship One,

Dale R Shunk, former Pres of the WPAEC

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