Letter to Regional Minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in PA
Letter to Regional Minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in PA

Subject: Concerns about July 13-17 Assembly in Kansas City

May 29, 2001

The Rev. W. Darwin Collins
Regional Minister and President

Dear Darwin:

We met briefly last summer at the Assembly gathering in Johnstown. I was officially voted upon and accepted to be pastor of Gipsy Christian Church in March, 2000.

I am writing to express some concerns about the General Synod/Assembly scheduled to meet this July 13-17 in Kansas City, MO.

I notice the theme is a common one being given high profile exposure among many religious bodies, including the United Methodist Church in which I am an ordained elder in full connection. That theme is "Gather at the Welcome Table." For some time the gay/lesbian folks and their supporters have been pressing the issue of being made to feel welcome at the "table" and in the sharing of the Lord's Supper. The problem is that this group does not want to repent of its abominable lifestyle, and in fact, insists that there is nothing wrong with its "loving, committed relationships," consisting of sexual intimacy between two females or two males. Further, they and their supporters frequently employ the terms "lesbian Christian sisters" and "gay Christian brothers" and in so doing apply continued pressure for acceptance into the life and ministry of the church. They have been quite successful to the point that if any of us challenge this and the terminology used to refer to these persons as "Christian brothers and sisters" we are automatically branded as bigoted, prejudiced, mean spirited, and homophobic -- the last term is much preferred when it comes to branding the opposition.

I notice also on the agenda at the Assembly that some of the Interest Groups are given to the subject of what really amounts to full acceptance of the same gender couplers into the life and mission of the church without any demands placed upon them in terms of repentance such as we would do in cases of those guilty of living a lifestyle of adultery or fornication!

And there is the one which deals with the subject of health insurance being provided for domestic partners of Christian Church employees. According to a recent news release from Disciples News Service, this is already a done deal, due to the recent decision made by the pension board. Translated into reality, this means that employees having partners of opposite sex or the same sex will have those partners covered by health insurance. Marriage is no longer a significant and qualifying factor in insurance coverage for employees! The message sent out by this recently adopted policy is not at all positive to say the least -- that message says, "We condone and approve of sexual immorality in whatever form it exists among Christian Church employees, and are willing to bear the cost through our health insurance plan for any medical calamities that may result from the practices of such immorality."

In another area which concerns the deity of Jesus Christ, I note that the hymn, "For the Beauty of the Earth," is being used. The first stanza ends with the words, "God of all, to you we raise this our hymn of grateful praise." The original hymn ends the first stanza with the words, "Christ our God, to Thee we raise this our hymn of grateful praise." Granted, in other portions of the rituals at the Assembly, Jesus is referred to as Savior, Lord, Son of God, etc. But it's this subtle tactic at certain points of ignoring or deliberately denying His deity that is troubling. For quite some time too many church leaders, aided by statements of some theologians, have been attempting to "demote" Jesus and bring Him down to a level where He is simply another religious figure comparable to the likes of Mohammed, Buddha, and others. They are becoming more brazen in their insistence that we need to back off from the position that Jesus is God and exclusively the only way of salvation and hope, because that position offends people of other faiths in this world!

One magazine published for United Methodist pastors actually devoted one issue to a debate over whether Jesus is indeed the Way, the Truth, and the Life and that no person can come to the Father except through Him. You were left hanging with the idea that it really doesn't matter and other faiths such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, etc. have a legitimate claim to accessing God and making authoritative statements on the issues of eternal destiny and judgment apart from Jesus Christ! Left unchecked and unchallenged we end up with a soul-killing heresy called "universalism!"

I have taken quite a bit of space to spell out a few concerns and certainly much more could be said on this subject. I do this because of my being a pastor in the United Methodist Church for 42 years. I see the same things happening now in the Christian Church that started happening in the UMC a number of years ago. And when I started out in 1959 if someone had said we would eventually be in a war over homosexuality and such issues as the deity of Jesus Christ, the response would have been, "You're crazy -- it'll never happen!" But in fact it did, and it continues to spread like an untreated melanoma!

I assume you will be attending the Kansas City Assembly in July. I hope you would bring some measure of attention to these concerns and stress the need to hold to the moral, ethical, and spiritual standards clearly revealed by God through His inspired and authoritative Word as you have opportunity to do so. Further, that Jesus Christ is all that He claimed to be (note His "I am..." statements) and has issued 4 basic demands we humans must absolutely meet or else we are hopelessly lost forever (note His "Except..." statements).

May God's best be your daily portion as Jesus tarries in His return to earth as King of kings and Lord of lords.

Still contending (Jude 3 & 4)

Clayton D. Harriger, Pastor
Gipsy Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Gipsy, Pennsylvania

PS - I am sending this to you email, but will forward a hard copy by snail mail.

cc: Members of the West Central District Cabinet, meeting June 4, 2001
Karen K. Wright, Administrative Assistant

For further reading on above and/or related issues go to:

Return to Circuit Rider's Letter Cache!
Gipsy Christian Church
CR's Leap of Faith! OR Whole Spread of CR's Range!
Return to CR's Range (Main Area)
Bird's Eye View of CR's Range
What's New at CR's Range?

Email C. D. Harriger at cdharriger@hotmail.com