How many of you own a discipline? : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

There are many questions on this board that could be addressed by reading the discipline. I'm interested in knowing how many of you own a discipline.

The discipline is not limited to clergy in our zion. As lay people it is part of our duty to understand how our church works.

I am simply shocked at how many clergy on this board have questions about things that are clearly written in the discipline.

-- Anonymous, April 28, 2004


Carolyn opines -

"I am simply shocked at how many clergy on this board have questions about things that are clearly written in the discipline."

I'm not a member of the clergy but the AME Discipline is not clear on some important topics regarding membership (what is good standing?, see p. 67 par. H) or composition of the Steward Board (why an upper limit of 19?, see page 69, Section A, par. 1(b)) or expulsion of a member (what constitutes disobedience to the Discipline?, see paage 341, par. A). A more pertinent question in my mind is why can't the Discipline be purged of ambiguity in areas which mightly impact the local church? QED

-- Anonymous, April 28, 2004

I have a half dozen. The lastest is the 2000 version.

-- Anonymous, April 28, 2004

Alright Sister Carolyn. You are right on target!

-- Anonymous, April 28, 2004

I own a discipline; however, I raise questions on this board, simply to get the input of fellow AME's throughout the world. As you may or may not have noticed, there are some consistencies across the board, and there are often inconsistencies across the board. And yet, the majority of us have a copy of the discipline. Most of the time, I ask questions for clarification and/or interpretation of what is in the discipline. What is wrong with that? God bless.

-- Anonymous, April 28, 2004

Sister Carolyn,

You are right. I and each member of my family have owned Disciplines as long as I can remember. We always make sure we have the latest edition of it. I read each one thoroughly and have never had any difficulty understanding it. As long as I can remember it has also been used and taught by various auxiliaries of my Local Church, Conference and District.

I too find it hard to understand why every AME Member, both clergy and lay don't do it same. Our Discipline is grounded in scripture and is "sound doctrine, full of comfort, indeed." If it were more universally applied in our churches many of the difficulties and problems which now occur would be "nipped it the bud" and cease to exist. We would also have a clear understanding of what it means to be AME and not moved by every whim and fancy which "comes down the pike." Thus, we would not be so prone to imitating Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Word or any other sect of the Body of Christ. We rather would be prone to be truly who Allen and our founding mothers and fathers envisioned us to be--an African "Methodist" Church with an Episcopal government but in which after Christ the Conference is the Supreme Authority, not any member of either the clergy or the lay. "The Priesthood of All Believers" is the term by which it is known.

Indeed we are quite similar to the Anglican Church from which all Methodist Churches came, yet speaking to the "African", eg Black, experience of the Worship of God, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

It is my prayer that we would all own and read our Disciplines and get back to the mission, purpose, calling and business of being truly A.M.E.

-- Anonymous, April 28, 2004

One of the main obstacles in elevating Lay understanding of the Discipline is the lack of time to actually study the Discipline properly. Most folks don't read the Discipline at home so the only recourse is to read it at church. There are typically only three weekly church events which bring out a significant number of people: Sunday Morning Worship, Church School and Mid-Week Bible Study. However, none of these meetings incorporate a careful study of the Discipline. Ask yourself, when is the last time your pastor preached from the Discipline for his/her Sunday sermon? Sermons, Church School and Bible Stuy use (rightfully so) the Bible as the "book of study".

If the local lay met more frequently this could help in the education process about the Discipline. Most of our members who know the Discipline are active Lay members yet an over-whelming majority of our AME local members are not active in the Lay Organization. I have often found this quite odd since the Lay purports to be the official training arm of the church but so few folks attend and those that do tend to be elder in age and status. Baptists actually have the better model of member training thru their BTU (Baptist Training Union) which meets weekly typically at either 5PM or 6PM for 90 minutes. It's hard to get much training for members when you only meet once a month at the local level.

Furthermore, it doesn't really matter whether you "own" a Discipline since the "interpretation" of the book is conditional on approval by the Bishops. That's the reality of church politics today. Until the ambiguity and vagueness which permeates key sections remain, interpretation will rest and remain in the hands of the clergy not the laity. QED

-- Anonymous, April 28, 2004

Brother Dickens again hits the nail on the head. If you want to do a fun research project, get a copy of the first discipline (available online) and the last and compare them. Good fun.

-- Anonymous, April 28, 2004

Amen Professor Amen I have a discipline and have disciplines since 1972. The more I read the Discipline the more I have questions.The answers in some cases are not clearly there.

Blessings from Bermuda

-- Anonymous, April 28, 2004

Sister Carolyn;

Maybe it isn't "clearly written". For example: Why is there a need for a separate book explaining sexual misconduct, harrassment or child molestation? With the number of lawsuits being leveled at other churches, it would be prudent to protect ourselves.

I'm not sure which questions you are referring to, but the last few posts have been backed up with answers from the Discipline. In keeping with our current thread of accuracy, which questions have been asked that are covered in the Discipline?

-- Anonymous, April 28, 2004

I agree with the majority of the posts especially one that states this board is an arena of comparison and understanding for things that aren't clearly stated in the discipline.

My post was conceived through the questions of how are people elected delegate to the general conference, what are conference claims. These are things that should be understood before one is a "full" member of the church, ESPECIALLY before one is an ordained elder.

Understand that our zion was one born of protest and believed in empowering our people through education and spiritual growth. Unfortunately WE (all of us) are not educating anymore.

It is true that I have never heard a pastor preach from the discipline. But the discipline IS taught during WMS, YPD, Sons of Allen, Lay, RAYAC, and every organizational meeting. This is done not under the instruction of the Lay, but under the instruction of the Christian Education Department. Understand that the Baptist Student Union was an answer to the AME Christian Education Department.

I must question the validity of one's Board of Examiners when clergy do not know how one can be elected a delegate to general conference. That baffles me!

Yes our discipline MUST change because our society changes. Again I say it is the responsibility of lay (meaning all members of this church) to be active participants. If we all were active participants we would be aware of and also recommend changes that should be addressed. This is a suggestion that was made here on this board.

Our church government is just like secular political government, you've got to be aware and have a concise understanding in order to progress through it.

-- Anonymous, April 29, 2004

I'm going out on a limb here but the Discipline, the Government and the resulting political intrigue are in place to reduce the ranks of those who have an 'actual' voice in the Church. Those who would asend to power need knowledge of such things, sheep however only need a place to graze.

-- Anonymous, April 29, 2004

Carolyn's clarification -

"My post was conceived through the questions of how are people elected delegate to the general conference, what are conference claims. These are things that should be understood before one is a "full" member of the church, ESPECIALLY before one is an ordained elder."

Agreed. The Discipline provides unambiguous instructions regarding who and how a delegates gets elected to the general conference and issues regarding church financial obligations. However, my comments were directed at your assertion that "things that are clearly written in the Discipline". That assertion is not supported by current facts as indicated in a few examples previously provided. The various groups you cite may teach the Discipline in your local AME Church but I can assure you that is not the norm across the Connection. The Lay Organization is the official teaching/training arm for member development, not Christian Ed. If folks can attend WMS, Sons of Allen, YPD, RAYAC (which is not well-represented across the Connection), etc., why can't they attend the local Lay? The problem is too many of us look at the Lay as another "club or organization" and not as a central learning arm like Church School or Bible Study. Again, this is why the Baptist model of BTU is important for AMEs. If you profess to be the training arm of the church and truly believe that member development is paramount (as I do), this requires local Lay meetings more than just monthly. The Discipline is one of the three essential resources any AME member should possess (Bible & Hymn Book being the other two). It requires a careful reading and re- reading along with thoughtful discussions by other members. Our current method for studying the Discipline (monthly Lay meetings) is inconsistent with the expectations of a literate church membership. QED

-- Anonymous, April 29, 2004

I have read with interest the comments that have been posted concerning the Discipline and yes I agree that that there is much to be desired about the ambiguity of the book. A lot has to do with the "Spoken/Written Rule" and the "Unspoken/Unwritten Rule" of thumb. Some of it also has to do with those of us who have never attended an Annual Conference, a Lay Convention or any other meeting other than their local church where they can interact and discuss these issues with others and to make the changes that need to be made. I also agree that the Lay Organization should be teaching the members about the church and Discipline, but when too many of the Clergy and laity are at odds, this work can not be done, Now for a solution that may work. If each local church in each Presiding Elder's District is assigned one area of the Discipline to research, study and recommend changes to that area at their local church, than they forward it on to the other churches in that P.E. District for discussion, that by the time the Presiding Elder has the District Conference, it could be voted upon. Then it could be circulated to other local churches in other P.E. Districts in that Annual Conference for discussion. In the mean time, the Annual Conference Lay Organization can be debating these issues as well. Then at the seat of the Annual Conference, time can be allocated to discuss these issues as a Conference. For each reccomended cahnge that is voted on by the Annual Conference/Lay Organizaiton, they than be forwarded to other local churches in other P.E. Districts to other Annual Conferences to other Episcopal Districts to other Lay Organzitions across the Connectional. By time the next General Conference comes around, we will know what issues will be brought and how much of a strong hold those issues will have a chance of passing and therefore correcting some of the ambiguity in the Discipline. This would also give those persons who are elected from their local churches to the Electoral College and then elected delegates to the General Conference a heads up as to what issues their district will be supporting and why. I know that as a delegate to any thing, I resent the notion that just because I am a part of something, I must vote for it without knowing the why of it and even if I disagree with it. By the was, this process is in the Discipline under the "Legislative Task Force". Why wait until nine months befoe General Conference to start talking legislature changes? Remember, this is just my opinion. God Bless

-- Anonymous, April 29, 2004

"...The problem is too many of us look at the Lay as another "club or organization" and not as a central learning arm like Church School or Bible Study..." I do not necessarily look at the Lay Organization as a "club", but unfortunately, in my conference, that is how the members carry themselves. There is little to no "educating" occuring because, unfortunatly, no "new" people are joining, and so the current membership does not feel that they have to "educate" themselves about the church. They feel they know everything. Anytime an organization has teas, fundraising dinners, etc., that is like a "club" and that is how many of the Lay orgs. act. Like was mentioned, there are many inconsistencies across the board. Some districts/conferences "do" what they are supposed to do. Others get away with doing what they want to do. That's just been my 34+ years experience. God's blessings upon you all!

-- Anonymous, April 29, 2004

One of the most beneficial exercises I have ever had in 38 years in this Church is the instruction and explanation of the Discipline in our Steward Board meetings. Rev. Virginia Sanders (First District) was very serious about the stewards of the Church knowing, understanding and using the application of the Doctrine and Discpline of the Church. Each meeting Rev. Sanders would take a section and provide instruction including Q&A on each subject. If there was an area she was not sure she would always get assistance. A great teacher Rev. Virginia

-- Anonymous, April 29, 2004

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