Alliance enters historic partnership with UCC, Disciples of Christ

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Sherrie, May 1, 2003.

  1. Sherrie

    Sherrie
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    A S S O C I A T E D B A P T I S T P R E S S

    Alliance enters historic partnership
    with UCC, Disciples of Christ

    By Robert Marus

    VIENNA, Va. (ABP) -- Members of the Alliance of Baptists have officially agreed to enter into what may be an historic ecumenical alignment with two other Baptist-like denominations.

    Members of the Baptist group, which originated in the early days of the Southern Baptist Convention conflict between moderates and convervatives, met April 24-26 at Vienna Baptist Church in Washington's Virginia suburbs. Besides approving the alignment, Alliance members also approved statements on Jewish-Christian and Muslim-Christian relations that contrast with recent statements and actions by more conservative Baptist leaders and bodies regarding Judaism and Islam. Participants also supported a resolution that strongly criticized the United States' policy toward Cuba.

    The ecumenical agreement would yoke the Alliance with the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). It is the culmination of an official dialogue that began between Alliance and UCC representatives six years ago and was joined by Disciples representatives two years ago.

    Alliance Executive Director Stan Hastey said the agreement was a formalization of a cooperation that has been going on at the grass-roots level for several years. "This proposed ecumenical agreement is not something dreamed up by the participating denominations," Hastey told Alliance members. "Rather it came up from local settings in which UCC, Disciples and Alliance people began to find each other and explore the possibility of a joint Christian witness in their communities."

    The agreement, if approved by the UCC and the Disciples at their national meetings later this year, would:

     set up formal theological dialogues between the groups on "matters of ministry, ordinances/sacraments, theology and polity throughout the life of the church";
     call on UCC, Disciples and Alliance leaders to make joint statements "on issues of national and international concern";
     create more formal cooperation between the three denominations in development of resources such as Sunday school curricula and development of youth camping events; and
     set up a "Partnership Council" with representatives from all three groups to "facilitate and encourage growth" of the ecumenical alignment.

    The agreement also calls upon Alliance congregations and individuals to continue and expand their local cooperative efforts with UCC and Disciples churches, and for moderate Baptist seminaries to offer courses on UCC and Disciples history and polity.

    Both groups come from backgrounds similar to the Baptist tradition. The United Church of Christ, which has many local churches whose names include the titles "Congregational" or "Reformed," has a democratic church-government style similar to the Baptist tradition, which emphasizes local-church autonomy. Likewise, the Disciples of Christ come from a movement among U.S. evangelicals in the early 1800s that emphasized congregational church government and adult conversion.

    Baptist groups historically have been leery of ecumenism, but the Alliance is generally considered to be the most "liberal" Baptist group in the U.S. Likewise, the UCC is widely considered the most progressive Protestant denominational group in the country, and the largest to officially endorse ordination for non-celibate gays and lesbians. The Alliance has endorsed full inclusion of homosexuals in the life of the denomination, but leaves its member churches free to decide how inclusive they will be of gays on the local level.

    Hastey said he anticipated that UCC and Disciples members would approve the agreement in their meetings.

    In addition to the partnership arrangement, delegates to the Alliance meeting updated a statement on Jewish-Christian relations the group first passed at their 1995 annual meeting, and adopted a statement on Muslim-Christian relations.

    Both statements said the Alliance would "renounce interpretations of Scripture which foster religious stereotyping and prejudice against" adherents of each faith. The statement on Jewish relations confessed Baptists' past complicity in anti-Semitism and affirmed "the teaching of the Christian Scriptures that God has not rejected the community of Israel, God's covenant people."

    The Muslim-relations statement recognized the common historical roots between Christianity, Islam and Judaism, sought dialogue with Muslims "built on mutual respect and the integrity of each other's faith," and committed the Alliance to work for "full religious freedom" and "equality of citizenship for all persons in all societies, whether Muslims or Christians or others, whether in the U.S. or elsewhere."

    Hastey said the statement grew out of conversations that Alliance leaders had with the Islamic Circle of North America beginning last summer. That dialogue was an attempt at damage control in response to comments by former Southern Baptist Convention president Jerry Vines, who accused Islam's highest prophet, Muhammad, of being a "demon-possessed pedophile."

    In his speech to Alliance members, Hastey said he "publicly repudiated the vile comments of a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention" which, he told Islamic Circle representatives, "demean you and disgrace us."

    Alliance delegates also passed a resolution condemning the U.S.'s 40-year-old trade and tourism embargo against Cuba, saying it had "caused untold hardships on the Cuban people." The resolution commended U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and U.S. Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) for attempting to pass legislation that would ease the embargoes. The Alliance has had a missions partnership with the Fraternity of Baptist Churches in Cuba for several years.

    Sherrie
     
  2. rsr

    rsr
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    This has been coming for a while. Some churches have, for example, been cooperating with both the Alliance and the UCC before this. Adding the Disciples to the mix isn't really surprising, given their views of church government and lack of creedalism.
     
  3. Monergist

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    Just raising the possibility of a partnership with the apostate UCC shows the depths to which the Alliance is sinking. I'm not too familiar with the Disciples of Christ organization, but for them to align themselves with the heretical views of the other two shows that even their title is a serious contradiction.
     
  4. Ben W

    Ben W
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    How is it that they are Apostate?
     
  5. Mitsy

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    I can't say that I believe this is good news. The UCC and the Christian Church-Disciples of Christ are way more liberal than most Baptist groups. But what is even more disturbing to me is that the UCC doesn't just stand on its own and quit trying to get other denominations to use their logo (as some of the Congregational Churches have done, although not all claim affiliation with the UCC). I see nothing wrong with some ecumenical programs where two different denominations might sponsor something, however, I see that as quite different from "joining" another group to take a political stand on something or somehow blurring the lines of the denominations. There is nothing wrong with lines of separation between the denominations. The many different denominations allow for many different people to find where they are most comfortable worshipping. I just hate to see mergers between denominations...there will always be people lost in the mix.
     
  6. Squire Robertsson

    Squire Robertsson
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    This estimation goes back to the mid-1800s. The Congregationalists of New England drank deeply from the springs of Unitarianism and Higher Criticism. To go much further into the subject would require more space than I have available here.
     
  7. Ben W

    Ben W
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    Squire, would it be a correct assumption that they are Apostate. Or is that a Long Bow to draw?
     
  8. Squire Robertsson

    Squire Robertsson
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    Today, these folks would be more properly termed Neo-Orthodox. (And no, I'm not trying to be insulting.) They use the same vocabulary but a different dictionary. By just listening to them, one would think that they are "just like us." However, if you asked them what they mean by what they said, you'd find that they meant somethingelse entirely. The best and shortest example I can give deals with the Doctrine of Inspiration of Scripture:
    Then there is the matter of Christology, who is Jesus of Nazareth.
     
  9. Kiffin

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    One of the disturbing things about the Alliance Of Baptists is their condemning the USA but not Castro. The Alliance Of Baptists seems to have a close relationship with these government sanctioned Baptist Churches in Cuba (And I am not condemning this group in that I am sure they endure hardships) but seems silent on the persecution of Non government endorsed house churches that do not submit to the Cuban government. There may or may not be some valid reasons to ease the embargo but the Alliance Baptist despite their close relationship with Cuban Christians seem silent on Cuban atrocities against Christians and that is very troubling.
     
  10. Kiffin

    Kiffin
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    More from the Alliance of Baptists website


    Does the Alliance have no problem with Castro's murder of those who speak against him? The Alliance of Baptists complaints from their website are all about how bad the US has been to Cuba but they are silent regarding Castro's persecution of believers.
     

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