Churches Uniting in Christ : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

This past weekend saw the inauguration of Churches Uniting in Christ (formerly the Consultation on Church Union) in Memphis, Tennessee. For those that don't know, this is a collaboration of 10 Protestant denominations in the United States in an effort to promote and execute greater Christian unity. I've been following this movement for about a year now and I am excited about the potential for greater interaction between the denominations, and the fact that the AME Church has been involved since the group's inception.

What are y'all's thoughts on this movement? If you need more fodder for the discussion, the web address for Churches Uniting in Christ is

Peace and blessings!

-- Anonymous, January 24, 2002


Coming Together

Piggybacking on the opening post. Here is the story of what happened and all of the players who were involved.

I am extracting this story from the secular paper I edit, so please excuse the format.

Rev. John

9 churches join in unity pledge

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Nine Protestant denominations pledged Sunday to launch a nationwide campaign against racism designed to help pull together the 22 million members of their congregations.

"We seek forgiveness for the sin of division,'' church members prayed as leaders of the denominations formed a new group called Churches Uniting in Christ.

The churches promise to unify their congregations, despite historical divisions based on race, and coordinate their efforts to oppose racial injustice.

"We've got to do that or we shouldn't be calling ourselves Christians,'' said Beverly Nicholson, who joined more than 1,200 other worshippers taking the vow for unity.

The worshippers packed the Mount Olive Cathedral of the C.M.E. Church for a prayer service wrapping up a weekend of meetings for church leaders from around the country.

Memphis was chosen for the meetings because it is the city where Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered in 1968. Monday is the national holiday honoring King's birth.

Stevey Wilburn Sr., pastor of Mount Olive, said the churches, through their many congregations around the country, will take up where King left off in forcing a public focus on combating racism.

"It has been said that the most segregated place on Sunday morning is the church, but I think we are now in a position to transform that,'' Wilburn said.

Denominations in Churches Uniting for Christ are the African Methodist Episcopal Church, African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, Episcopal Church, International Council of Community Churches, Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Christ and United Methodist Church.

"We come to pray for the full, visible unity of the one Body of Christ,'' the worshippers read in unison from a prepared text.

The unity pledge follows failed efforts for a merger of several Protestant denominations that began in the 1960s with an ecumenical group called Consultation of Church Union.

A merger failed largely because of relatively minor differences in how the churches conduct their religious and secular affairs.

Michael Kinnamon of Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis said Churches Uniting in Christ offers a framework through which the congregations will eventually share clergy, take part in each others' baptisms, combine mission work and take communion together.

"This is a relationship made now from denomination to denomination by the leadership, but it doesn't mean a hill of beans if doesn't happen in the congregations,'' Kinnamon said.

Church leaders expect the congregations to begin discussing the unity movement and drawing up local plans for bringing it about.

"This service will be replicated in communities across the country,'' Kinnamon said. "I was just speaking to the head of the Indiana council of churches, for example, and they're having three different regional gatherings to celebrate the inauguration of this relationship and to make it live there locally.''


On the Net:

Churches Uniting in Christ:

-- Anonymous, January 24, 2002

Was there no invitation to the Messianic Jews? This is a step in the right direction Our church does fellowship with other denominations, but we have yet to share baptisms and/or communion services. Also, once a year, during our Founders Day celebration, the congregation from one of the local Jewish synagogues comes to worship with us.

-- Anonymous, January 24, 2002

I've been a part of a city-wide group for a few years now, and it's a blessing. Our pastoral board consists of pastors from Charismatic, English and Spanish speaking Assemblies of God, United Methodist, and predominantly white and African-American Baptist churches. Individual participants come from many other denominations in addition to these 6 churches.

The most important thing is our purpose, which is prayer for revival in our region.

-- Anonymous, January 24, 2002

Our town has formed it's first Interfaith Counsel. And our church is a founding member. The main purpose of the Counsel is to provide opportunities where we can learn about each other's faiths. And to work on community projects together. January 24, The Pope invited world religious leaders to come to Assissi Italy to pray for world peace. He also asked that prayers be held around the world yesterday. Our interfaith counsel put on a program of prayers for peace. It was wonderful to hear the different prayers for peace from the different religions. The program was planned by the Quakers and 3 A.M.E's And one of our members who is Native American also read a prayer for peace on behalf on Native Americans. After the program there was much hugging, as we began to break down walls of ignorance. I kept thinking, God continues to use the A.M.E church in new and different ways. Yes Churches are uniting, but I also think world religions are beginning to learn to respect and work together.

-- Anonymous, January 25, 2002

I'd be careful in who I associate with. Our General Superintendent just put out a letter regarding the phenomena of churches inviting Muslims and other false religions to speak in an effort to "increase understanding". He is against this practice because he does not want to legitimize what is by Biblical definition an invention of satan.

I agree with his position. I don't mind learning about other religions, but the reason should be so that we may strategize on ways to evangelize. I also am for developing personal relationships with pagans, but again the purpose must be so that they might be rescued. The moment we accord ANY legitimacy to a false religion, we err.

Of course this does not prevent our joining in various endeavors with all who name the Name of Jesus. The test is, do they hold the Bible alone as their ultimate rule of faith and practice?

-- Anonymous, January 25, 2002

There is much to learn from one another. There is a lot of poverty in and around our towns. If we can come together and work together with love and respect, we can keep our food bank full, we can build the homeless shelter that is needed, we can build a alcoholic detox. I was very happy that the event occured for we are talking about such projects.

-- Anonymous, January 25, 2002

We have to disagree on this one Sister. I don't care how noble the cause, I'm not going to make it appear that the Church of Christ is on anything resembling an equal plane as demon inspired religions. I see it as the same as joining with drug dealers or Al Qaeda to run a homeless shelter.

If I'm going to do something like that I'll join with other Christians or trust God to provide resources to do it alone.

As far as learning from them, there's nothing they can teach me that the Word of God can't teach me better. My desire to "reach understanding" means I have to open my mind to their point of view, and that is absolutely unacceptable to the Christian. Approaching their teachings with anything like an open mind opens me to the same demonic influence that drives them. In other words, I run the risk of being converted, or at least having seeds planted in me that the devil can cultivate.

The Christian life is a war, and the enemy is the devil. It's our job to pull down satanic strongholds, and part of that involves becoming the implacable enemy of false religion. The other side of that coin involves a desperate effort to see those held in bondage to those systems rescued through conversion. Can we make friends with them? Absolutely. It's to be encouraged so that we might witness to them. But I won't dirty the Name of Jesus by associating my church in a joint endeavor with a false religion.

Now, having said that, what should be the attitude of Christians toward the Nation of Islam? How many churches have disgraced the Name of Jesus by associating their organizations with this enemy in joint endeavors that on the surface seem noble? Since when did we need the help of the likes of Louis Farrakhan to see change in our communities? As our example, look to Ezra 4:1-3 and Zerubbabel's response when the "enemies of Judah and Benjamin" (vs 1) offered to help rebuild the Temple. "You have no part with us in building a temple to our God." Join with other Christians, or join with no one.

-- Anonymous, January 27, 2002

Mr. Price, You nor anyone else do not have the power to "disgrace" the name of Jesus. The blood of Jesus stands and will remain the same, yesterday , today and forever, regradless of what you or I do about it. When we get so high in our own godliness that we become alknowing, we make ourselves gods


Pastor Paris

-- Anonymous, January 28, 2002

We normally agree on most things sir, but here I must disagree. Our actions of ignorance or disobedience do not in any way reduce God's position or dilute who He is, but it can bring disgrace in the same way a child's foolishness can embarass a parent or bring disgrace to a family name.

When we sin we fail to live up to our royal family name, and thus bring disgrace. For example, the shenanigans of the children of Queen Elizabeth are well known, and though her position as queen of England is not diluted, her royal name is indeed disgraced. That's why the tabloids jump all over it.

I'm quite sure Sister Denise and others associating with false religions do NOT mean to do this on purpose. Her love for the Lord is well established. But we can do the wrong thing through ignorance just as we can through intentional sin, and damage to the Kingdom occurs nonetheless. Satanic tactics are subtle, and are often cloaked in a veil of good deeds, and through this even the elect are sometimes deceived.

As another example I hold up the Million Man March. Had it simply been promoted as a secular gathering it would have been one thing. But over and over I heard the phrase, "Christians and Muslims joining together", and the star of the show was the vile Louis Farrakhan. My thought was, is this the best these churches can do for allies? I'd rather march alone than march with him. How many young men that day were deceived into joining the Nation of Islam? The churches that join with him in effect endorse him, and that is a huge mistake.

In the same way, churches that participate in inter-faith groups in effect say that all participating religions are OK. They absolutely are not. Though I am a member of a cross-denominational prayer group just for Christians, I could never support an inter-faith group that gives an endorsement to false religion.

-- Anonymous, January 28, 2002

Rob somewhere along the line you missed the part that said "My church participated" When you are pastoring a church then we know what your decision will me. This was my call! The evening of prayer in my town was replicated a thousand times around the world. The focus was on praying that acts of terrorism would stop. I heard what you said, Rob. But alas this is a done deal. We all got together and prayed against acts of terrorism, we hugged and went home and made plans for our respective church worship services. It was a beautiful evening.

-- Anonymous, January 28, 2002

Rob one other thing you should know. You are assemblies of God and you may not know this of us. But the A.M.E denomination participates in interfaith counsels. One good example is the Interfaith alliance. Do a search on the internet under interfaith counsel and a.m.e church. And my Bishop is aware that our church is part of an interfaith counsel.

-- Anonymous, January 28, 2002

Rob, your point is well taken and I have to agree that when "we", Christians, align ourselves with those who do not believe in Christ, we have compromised. We are sent into the world to "teach them to observe all things." Is that how we are to teach them, by going along to get along?

The Jewish synagogue that worships with us once a year on founder's day, is not a messianic congregation, however, the Rabbi brings in his youth group so that they can hear how the Black church began and to hear the message of Christ. This Rabbi is teaching this group of young people (ages 12-17) about Christ, and I'm just setting upon my tower watching for the day when they march in our church and say they are now messianic Jews.

Why is it that the folk who believe in Islam or other denominations that do not believe in Jesus, will not come to our places of worship to learn the truth about Jesus? They do not recognize Jesus as the Son of God, but only as a prophet like muhammand. I will not go along to get along. When they acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God then and only then will I consider assemblying with them. Until then, I seek to witness to them where ever I see them and have the opportunity to open their eyes to the truth.

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly. Psalm 1:1a

-- Anonymous, January 28, 2002


I can't remember if I told you or not. I'm no longer an Assemblies of God minister. I resigned those credentials several months ago. The main reason was I observed what the working environment was in many churches, and could never gain a peace about putting myself into that for the rest of my life. My wife was in hearty agreement with the decision. Perhaps that may make an intersting thread: The working environment of the minister. I've heard reports that as many as 80% of Christian ministers are on the verge of resigning at any given time. That seems awfully high to me, but I can say that every minister has had his/her doubts about their call at one time or another, and many if not most ministers carry a heavy load. Unfortunately the congregation and headquarters can themselves be part of the problem rather than the solution.

Based on my experience, the key word became "vulnerability" - to malcontents in the congregation, to senior pastors, and to higher leadership. Even though those I was working with were and are wonderful chaps, I'd experienced in the past how that could change overnight, and as long as I had those credentials, I and my family were vulnerable.

I just didn't see the need to put my family in that precarious line of work, so I resigned. I realized that in my case very little would change. With or without credentials I'd still need to work a secular job for the forseeable future, and I could still teach and preach as requested. In fact in my church I can even be on staff in many capacities. The only difference would be my title would be "director of..." instead of "pastor of..." At the same time I'm free from all of the paperwork, scrutiny, and fees, and have much more personal freedom to disagree with official positions, and follow God as he leads. For that reason, even though I still am a member of an Assemblies of God church, I actually consider myself more non- denominational. Just call me Full Gospel.

I salute those who take on the mantle of pastor. It takes a special breed to be sure.

-- Anonymous, January 28, 2002


We've gone quite far afield. The interfaith debate is enlightening, and worthy of discussion, but I'm more interested in the ecumenical issues- AME and Episcopalian and United Methodist and United Church of Christ and more, all moving toward a point in the future when they'll all be in communion. I mean what do you all think about the sharing of the Lord's Supper and the issue of transubtantiation? The Episcopalians believe in transubstantiation while we (AMEs) do not. We recognize 2 sacraments while the Episcopalians recognize quite a few more. The Episcopalians celebrate the Eucharist at every service while we reserve it for the first Sunday of the month. These are seemingly the little things that make up the lines between the denominations. But they may not be so little to the average church- goer.

Perhaps I'm just getting mired down in minutiae, but when I worshipped at an Episcopal church, and I shared in the Lord's Supper, I noticed a number of differences that made me wonder how they would go over in my own church. For example, they use port wine, in a common cup and they don't break the communion wafer when they place it in the communicant's hand. In my church, we use kosher wine, in individual cups, and the bread is pressed into the palm until it breaks as the officiant says, "The body of our Lord, which is broken for you..." I wonder how this group of nine dealt with those nuances last weekend. Don't you? You might think these minor details, but the saying goes, "The devil is in the details."

One last point... While this ecumenical weekend was happening in Memphis, I was visiting with my very good friend and we attended his church, an Episcopal church. He taught Sunday School, and I sat in and provided an outsiders perspective to their lesson on Unity and why there were so many different denominations and what made them different and what made them alike and were the differences valid. I was surprised at the other instructors lack of knowledge about the differences! The children I could forgive. After all, they were there to learn. Perhaps that's just my hypersensitivity to things academic. But I think an instructor should have some idea of what they're teaching. Anyhoo, the differences intrigue me and I am curious to see how those differences are to be overcome.

-- Anonymous, January 28, 2002

Differences such as you mention are overcome in two ways. First is Christian growth. The Christian life can be viewed as a triangle. At the broad base is all manner of worldly thought, and at the top is God's absolute truth. As we grow in God we move up the triangle, and the differences we have with those at the same level are fewer and fewer. The rate of growth and ascent has little to do with physical age or even how long one has been saved. It's only indirectly affected by the amount of study, because there are a lot of heretics holding PhD's. Study of the correct things under the Spirit's guidance produces good growth. Study using human wisdom or demonic influence leads to heresy, and that poor person will float around the bottom of the triangle, completely unaware of their deception.

Growth has more to do with how much one surrenders to God, and allows themselves to be cleansed day by day. Such action allows a person to hear God's voice more clearly than when a bunch of sin is cluttering up their life, muffling the Holy Spirit's voice, and perverting a good understanding of God's Word.

A good example can be found in the area of tongues. I knew a Fundamental Baptist preacher who believe that tongues are of the devil, or are no longer for today. But what he didn't know was that a majority of his people didn't agree. Why? They had either experienced tongues, or knew good Christians who had. As a result they had more in common with the Full Gospel people than their own pastor. In other words, they had progressed up the triangle and narrowed an area of denominational dispute.

I doubt anyone will make it to the top of the triangle this side of Glory, so some disagreement will always exist. But I have been in interdenominational settings where these differences were of minimal importance. This brings up the second way of narrowing differences. Along with the maturity of the pariticipants, the second factor is Christian liberty. Understanding that certain things will never be compromised, these cutting edge people from many groups achieve harmony by simply not discussing minor issues, and allowing the practice of anything that doesn't qualify as heresy.

You want to speak in tongues? Go for it. You want to kneel, lay out, pace, stand, or sit while praying? Go ahead. You believe the KJV is the only valid version? Fine, I'll use my NIV and not feel condemned. Because of the high level of maturity in this group, they are largely able to distinguish the difference between major and minor issues. Agreement was always there on major issues, so there was no argument there. No one is going to say Jesus isn't devine. On minor issues, liberty is allowed.

-- Anonymous, January 28, 2002

Thanks, RP!

I was a bit lost in your answer for a moment, but you brought the point home in the last 3 lines. :)

-- Anonymous, January 28, 2002

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