Is this what we (the Church) are coming to? : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

It is with a heavy heart that I ask you to pray for the Church? I was shocked to discover a certain website purporting church reformation. Although I do agree that the church needs tweaking, name one organization that does not! This site is somewhat negative in its attempt to reform the church. I would say that it is a form of ecclesiastical mudslinging." Yes, there are problems within our Zion, but to paraphrase a popular 70's song "Why can't we be friends..." The Bible does not condone the actions mentioned in this website; however, I implore the creator of this website to remember "he/she who is without sin, cast the first stone..." If you are living in a glass house, don't throw stones! Let God be the judge! Peace and Blessings! Ray Allen

-- Anonymous, January 04, 2002


I just looked at the website. This is appauling and most EVIL -- I believe that someone that is not man or woman enough to even give their name on the website -- this seems like it is a ploy to discredit the Elder and the Bishop of the District. I smell a rat in DENMARK!!!!!!


-- Anonymous, January 04, 2002

Thanks for your imput. We must be busy solving the problem, not creating confusion. If this person put as much time and energy into positive efforts concerning our church, what an effective and relevant ministry it would be! It takes hundreds, thousands of years to grow a forest, but only one misguided match to burn it down. Let us pray for this brother/sister.

-- Anonymous, January 04, 2002

Sound and Fury....

Dear Brother Ray,

Do not let the web site you discovered cause you too much irritation or concern.

That web site was placed online in May of 2001. In its eight months of life the web site has drawn less than 800 people, according to its counter. That many people visit this site on a daily basis. So you are shooting a flea with an elephant gun.

The web site has an agenda. You can discern the agenda and point of view after a few seconds of reading. Whether you subscribe to this poinit of view is a matter of personal perspective.

The site advocates the witholding of money as a form of protest. Can I suggest that a similar tactic, the boycotting (spell that do not visit the site) of the above site if you do not care for its message.

Although the messages are posted anonymously, it really only takes a few seconds to discover who is behind them and even the owners phone number is available if you really care to take the time to find it.

As a church, yes we do stand in the need of prayer.

I daily pray that God continues to lead the church, and I as one of its servants, in a path pleasing to Him.

As for the web site you discovered. If no one pays any attention to it, does it really pose a problem. God has a way of taking care of things and that includes the church that both He and we love.

Rev. John

-- Anonymous, January 04, 2002

"...Me thinks you protest too much..." Brother thankyoulord83.

-- Anonymous, January 05, 2002

Just a historical reminder that many American "progressive movements" are the by-product of reformist efforts. Martin Luther was indeed a "reformist". All of Protestant worship (including Methodism) is indebted to his courageous work. In fact Protestanism finds its real identity in the root word of "protest". Rev. Increase Mather, President of Harvard College in the late 17th century and father of Rev. Cotton Mather (greatest preacher of American linneage), was one of the most celebrated clergymaen of colonial America during the late 17th and early 18th centuries. He resigned the presidency at Harvard because he wanted to continue pushing for what he felt were necessary reforms in the Congregational Church. I would put forth a plausible thesis that the growth of organized black Christianity is a function of reformist activities. The common denominator which binds Richard Allen, James Varick, J.L. Jackson and Martin Luther King, Jr. were their individual contributions in helping to define an independent worship movement seperate from the status quo.

Now Brother Allen employs an interesting yet problematic phrase in his critique of the AME Reform Movement. I applaud his critical assessment of the dissident AME website. At some point in the future I plan to visist and read the information for myself. His description however of the "refomist" efforts as ecclesiastical mudslinging I personally find to be a bit condescending and overly protective of our adult leaders. Can anyone seriously dismiss the missives of our disgruntled AMEer as factually incorrect? Is their evidence of libel? Are we to reduce our dialouge to only those issues which we are "comfortable" in having full disclosure? This Zion indeed faces great challenges if it intends to remain a institution of influence in the lives of ordinary black folks in rural, urban and suburban America. I recently received an email from a charming poster of this BB and she mentioned something which I can't seem to shake. She spoke about the fact that people are less concerned now about denominational showmanship but more interested in churches which can meet their needs. I'm afraid she has hit the nail right on the head. If financial malfeasance is endemic to our Zion it needs to be dealt with directly because like cancer it can and will eventually kill the body, despite all forms of "ecclesiastical chemotherapy", ergo, rationalizing the sin as a form of tradition. The office of the Bishop was never intended to become a position whereby ministers should behave in an obsequeous manner just to curry favor from a Presiding Prelate.

Bob Matthews mentioned something on this BB over a year ago, germane to this issue, which was simple in thought yet profound in application. He stressed that ultimately, we as a membership, are really responsible because we fail to make elected Bishops or General Officers accountable for their actions. We don't want to take time to learn what our individual and corporate responsibilities are in the AMEC. No one has time to become involved in the local Lay, yet everyone has an opinion about polity (albeit the opinion is largely uniformed). Dissent and constructive criticism are sine qua nons in our odessy to reach the potential God has embedded in all of us. In his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, M.L. King raised the following question to his fellow white clergymen who were critical of his "reformist" actions - "If not now, when?" Forty years later this same question is true within the AMEC. QED

-- Anonymous, January 05, 2002

Well, it may have only gotten 800 hits so far, but it's going to get a lot more now that it's being advertised here.

I checked it out. Very interesting, and it appears much research went into it. Now is it true??? Well, God knows and will judge accordingly.

It does make a good case for the congregational system of government if it does nothing else though.

-- Anonymous, January 05, 2002


Once again I have to agree with you. Civil Rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer once said, "I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired." This simple, but profound statement summarizes how many people feel about the issues, which confront us, yet bear their feelings in silent dismay. Countless others feel helpless to address or even express their concerns. While what they feel may be distorted, wrong, or grossly imagined, to brush them aside can work us harm.

Those of us who love our Church and wish it well can either take the road of denial, pretending that all is well or we can through work, prayer, knowledge, and use of the proper channels confront, address, and rectify our ills. We may choose to sweep the proverbial "dust under the rug" but the result will be that dust mites will eventually expose our filth and we will choke on the cloud it makes. Again to use an old cliché, "Nero fiddled while Rome burned."

Jesus left us to manage the store. When He comes again, will He find His house in order?

-- Anonymous, January 05, 2002

It is insane to continue to plant the same seeds while expecting different results. The crop that is harvested is always indicative of the seeds that are planted.


Pastor Paris

-- Anonymous, January 06, 2002

I, like countless of others, have journeyed to the website. While it is being telling and colorful, it is also a cowardly document. Correct me if I am wrong, but the writer/author/producer was quick to call names of the Bishop, Presiding Elder and Pastors but did not reveal his or her name. Isn't that a coward? Isn't that the same thing as throwing the brick and hiding your hand? I have no respect for someone who says such things (true or not) but does not reveal who they are.

I am a pastor in SC, the Seventh Episcopal District, my members will say that I am very forthright and honest with them. I tell them when assessment are due, what amount, and all the other details pertaining to the requested assessment, using the letter received from my PE as my backup. I just had a similar talk with my finance committee today in this regard. I reckon it like this: every job has responsiblilities requested of the employee that is not written on contract, in our job description, or not said up front that the employee either does or finds another job. And usually, some form of this activity will take place at the other place that one would go to. However, individuals do the right to keep the job or hit the pavement with a resume. That does not make it right, that makes it the way it is. If what is being requested that I paid is misappropriated, mishandled, or misused, the Lord will punish those who do the wrong.

Sure, the AME Church has a myriad of flaws and issues that it needs to address and resolve. However, I hold that that website is not the best format to expose the issues.

-- Anonymous, January 06, 2002

It is very clear that bill dickens is not a pastor. And it also would appear that he applauds the negative divisive trash shared on that web site. It is my prayer that we would embrace one of the greatest institutions that we as blacks have and that is the AME Church.

-- Anonymous, January 07, 2002

Parson Nelson:

You are correct, I am neither a pastor nor a member of the AME clergy. I am simply a member of the Lay Organization seeking to gain a fuller understanding of my responsibilities and helping this Zion reach its creative potential. But, my absence of clergy credentials have absolutely no connection with my comments about the aforementioned dissendent website. Perhaps you misunderstood the core of my prior post in this thread. I applauded Brother Allen's critical assessment of the dissident website but amended my comments by recognizing the important role dissent has played in shaping public policy and instituional change. My historical references demonstrate that dissent is as American as "Cherry pie". Our society tolerates dissent because we value a marketplace of ideas. If this is what you imply by the pejorative phrase "divisive trash", that's your perogative. However, I reject the impulse of "silencing critics" because the only effective way "bad" ideas can be dealt with is through an open forum and subjecting the "heresy" to debate and rigorous cross-examination. I am not a trained philosopher (I do know a little about economics, math, history & American jurisprudence), but I would ventrue to say that dissent is morally superior compared to its alter ego, censureship. Nearly two decades of university research and working closely with attorneys has taught me that the road to discovery of truth is seldom easy or simple. In fact it is a rocky road and arduous task which demands both skill patience. As M. Scott Peck would say, it is the "Road Less Traveled". QED

-- Anonymous, January 07, 2002

I must admit, I did take a brief look over the website. And I do agree that it is a cowardice act. I also noticed the "name calling" in the website; however, I did notice that the producer did not include his/her name. I also did a little bit of research (I am a professional researcher) and I found that the P.O. Box # used on the website is boggus. I even attempted to email the producer on the email address listed to provide constructive feedback, and it turns out that the email address is boggus as well. Even though it is this persons first amendment right to create this website, it really does appear to be a joke to get everyone's attention. Obviously, it is working. I don't believe the creator will receive a dime for getting "hits" on the website. Another thing that I noticed about the website is the fact that the person complains and complains about the money situation in the denomination, yet the creator solicits donations for the "furtherance" of the website. Also, the creator does not state who to write the checks out to. I am providing this information on the discussion board so that people do not add any more hits to the website. It is truly an immature joke. God bless you.

-- Anonymous, January 07, 2002

Since I posed this particular question, I was notified upon this website by a good friend who happens to be a pastor. I too am a pastor within this denomination. It is a good thing to address these concerns, however, let us not lose perspective. The church has been instrumental in more positive change than negative. In spite of imperfections, The Churchof Allen has been on the vanguard of social action and reform. The General Conference of 2000 made significant change when it elected the first female bishop (who was elected base on her merits as a pastor and effective leadership) As a pastor, I have often discussed issues openly with my presiding elder and bishop. I did not post a "bogus" website to let the entire world to view. I wish to state that the church is similar to a garden. Along with the flowers, there will be rocks and weeds. Yet, the beauty of the garden overshadows the negative. Yes, we have problems because we are not perfect. My professor in seminary often stated this truth: "As humans, the only thing we are consistent in are our inconsistencies." This old ship of Zion my creak, but it has landed many a thousand....I think I will stay on board!

-- Anonymous, January 07, 2002

I'd like to vouch personally for the faith, commitment, character, and intellect of Dr. Dickens. He is learned, fervent, dedicated, and faithful first to the chruch of Christ and secondly to carrying out the Crhistian Mission trhough the Church of Allen. I think when you meet him at the upcoming AME Today reunion you will find him to be humorous, charming, and faithful.

Perhaps a second reading of his post may clarify his perspective. I stand as a character witness for the man.

-- Anonymous, January 07, 2002

Prior to September 11, 2001, one of the greatest tragedies of modern times took place on April 15, 1912. This event is on display for all to see in a museum in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It is none other than the sinking of the "Titanic" in the icy waters of the northern sea.

Despite the glamorous story attribute to this event by a recent production of Hollywood, the Titanic was most tragic indeed. The real tragedy lies not so much in he fact that this massive ship sank with the loss of many lives, but most tragic of all is the fact that it should never have occurred and could well have been PREVENTED. The crew was sufficently warned that the iceberg lay ahead and that they should avoid it at all costs.

Nevertheless, they continued on their course and the effect was utter devastation. Both this event and September 11 are similar in that persons in charge failed to heed prior warnings due to their illusion that "this could never possibly happen here". They said. "WE ARE UNSINKABLE", but sink they did.

It appears that some on this board live with the same illusions that led to these most tragic events.

Bill Dickens is right. Dissident expression is legitimate expression of what one feels or believes. Ignoring this fact will not cause it to go away. Neither does it matter how cowardly we think these expressions may be. If a rock is thrown and hits its mark the devastating effects are still the same whether or not we know from whence it came.

Like the tip if the iceberg, one person who is bold enough to make such an assertion is simply a warning that countless others silently wait beneath the surface till the damage is done. The AME Church has sufficient vehicles for confronting, addressing and resolving those issues, which confront us. But, no amount of wishful thinking will cause them to go away. The ostrich effect won't work here. Remember the Titanic or more recently remember September 11 and learn the lessons they taught.

John Greenleaf Whittier once wrote, "For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: IT MIGH HAVE BEEN!" God grant us the wisdom, knowledge and good sense to learn from our past, so that we may never need to say, "IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN"!


-- Anonymous, January 08, 2002

AMEN Brother Matthews. A fitting conclusion to this many faceted discussion.


Pastor Paris

-- Anonymous, January 08, 2002

Churches and denominations go through phases of growth and maturity. Phases 1-3 encompass initial stages of establishment, breakout, and triumph. Stage 4 comes when people get comfortable and stale, and the movement moves into religious ritual. At that point we begin to see cracks, including theological error, a loss of momentum, routine, and even instances of corruption such as those aledged in the site.

Stage 4 is critical because at that point people in the movement often take stock and decide to either cry out for revival or to continue down the comfortable path of least resistance. If the revivalists end up taking the day, the church can move back into the mighty stage 3. If they don't, the church will move into stage 5 in which the revivalists begin to leave to start a new movement, and those that remain move into irrelavence and decay. Much of mainline Chirstianity is now in stage 5.

Even if the individual who wrote the site is a complete crackpot, one thing we can all take away is that we should take heed lest we fall. Ask yourself where your church and the movement as a whole stands today, and where is it going?

-- Anonymous, January 08, 2002

I'm certain that these acquisitions are not the first within the AME Church, but we're not given the power or authority to judge. Matthew 7:15 says beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are revening wolves. As followers of Jesus Christ we've been warned to beware of these wolves, afterall the wolf is the worst enemy that the sheep has. Continue to keep lifing up the name of Jesus despite what others say, and do what is right in the eyesight of Almighty God.

-- Anonymous, August 10, 2002

On November 5, 2000 I started a non-denominational church in Wichita Ks. with 7 memembers on the campus of Wichita State University. In two years New Day Christian Church now has over 110 memebers. We purchased a beautiful new building and are getting ready to purschase the existing land around the area. I love the AME Church but the administration from the leadership in the Kansas Nebraska conference was not bold enough, creative enough, inspiring enough to do what it takes to make the leap into the future. Check it out! In 1999 my last annual conference there were about 2000 real memembers on the rolls of the Kansas-Nebraska conference. Understand we have 21 churches on this presiding elders charge that is less then 100 members a piece. We have had around 2000 members for the last 20 years. In Wichita alone their is a black United Methodist church with 2000 memebers. The largest AME church in Wichita has maybe 200-250 on the roleI am being generous. The other AME Church here maybe has 125. Both these two churches have good people in them but they never workd together on anything except for special AME Days. You wouldn't know they were part of an connection. This spirit of separation has gone on for over 20 years and I believe is fostered by they leadership of the church. This same separation permeates the whole conference and slowly killing the church. The Kansas Nebraska conference is in crises but their is no urgency to do anything about it. Bishop Bryant has either turned a blind eye, is not informed or does not see that something there is something seriously wrong when the only major conference put on is the annual conference. There has not been any conferences on evangelism, preaching, worship, tithing & finance, church growth, health, education, politics or mission put on by an AME Church in this area in years. The pastor at St. Paul is here now is doing a pretty good but he does not seem to be getting any help from the connection. Other churches are growing as I said before I left the church and two years ago and have more almost as many folks as Grant. I am saying this because I love the AME church and this area needs the leadership of the AME Church, but that leadership on the higher level is lacking. The Bishop needs to prioritize areas of crises and pull the collective talents of the AME church to help sure up the weakest leaks. I beleive the Mid West especially the Kansas Nebraska conference would do well if preachers from major arears and Bishops came here and put on workshops. Name recognition means alot and the AME church does not have it in this area. Let me tell you something else. A 300,000 dollar budget is nothing, but especially if you have conference claims of 20-25,000 dollars a year. With 25,000 dollars off the top going out,paying on a loan of 300,000, salaries, utilities,parsonage upkeep and misc. the church is really operating in the red. That is about where our major churches are in this area. What does that mean for doing ministry? What does that do to missions work? What does that do to your ability to help those in your congregation? It takes money to do ministry. St. Paul and Grant need to raise at least $500,000 to $1,000,000 a year. Tithing by it self is not going to get it. In Wichita we have one of the fastest growing churches in America it is called Central Christian. It was able to grow not only by tithing but bring is gospel artist, gospel plays and doing other innovative things. WE are having a gospel Jazz and lemonade on the lawn day with the mindset of doing evangelism. As I said before we grew from 7 to 110 in less than two years and last week we saw our largest attendance of 223 people with seven more joining the church. So even in Wichita there is a possilibity for real growth. If you think that I might not be telling the truth. I can seen you more information just write me and request it. You might ask why did I leave the AME church? The question is I thought the leadership was very insensitve to the needs of its pastors. Second I thought the leadership did not do a good enough job in evaluating the skills when placing pastors. They seem to move problem preachers from place the place much like the catholic church instead of dealing with them. A pesonal story. I was sent to a church in Salina Ks. Salina is in the middle of no where. It has a population of 45,000 people and out of that 45,000 there are about 2000 black people. In 1996 when I was placed there, I would say we had a good 6 members. When I reported at my first annual conference we had over twenty persons there and it is documented and over 5,000 dollars in the bank. The second year we had another 30 persons join and while remodeling the church and doing a host of other things in the community like getting the City of Salina to name the city hall park after a life long member of our church Robert Caldwell who was the first black mayor in the state of Kansas. Least you think I was mad because they did not move me you are wrong. My wife and I were doing well and I loved the church. One of the members was even going to give us a house. The reason we left was in 1999 at the Annual conference in st. John Topeka Ks. when Bishop Bryant preached a sermon called "Taking the Brakes Off" tag The Unlimited Power of God." I heard God's voice say the AME Church was the brake. The Bishops, the presiding elders are not in touch with the needs of the local church. They spent to much of the churches money on hotels,paper, conferences that have no benefit for them and lawsuits that should not have happen. We all undestand that no one is perfact, but to promote preaches that have time and time again prove that they cannot exercise self control in the area of sex, money and anger management is spiritual suicide. The people do not have any respect for their leadership. Many now view ministers like politicians and CEO's of Eron and World Com. Out to get the buck grow rich off the backs of the workers. The ship is top heavy and all of you know it. Don't get mad at the messenger, get mad at the mess and do something about it. God is going to prune the branches, I believe the AME church will recover and do great things, but it will lose many brillant people before it wakes up. The tragedy is the many people that will be missed before it wakes up. I did not want to be hindered anymore from using the many talents that the Lord had blessed me and wife with with for his service. I am writing quickly so if I made mistakes you can again write me at

-- Anonymous, August 13, 2002


-- Anonymous, September 06, 2002

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