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UCCtruths

Every denomination needs one of these...

Thomas confesses "some" members disturbed by Wright comments

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Slowly, United Church of Christ President John Thomas is realizing that he was just plain wrong on Jeremiah Wright. From Fox 8 News in Cleveland:

The UCC General Minister and President, Rev. John Thomas says some members found language Wright used, as highlighted in recent news accounts -- disturbing. But in context, Thomas says Wright was "very much in the tradition of biblical prophets challenging the nation to greater faithfulness."

He says it's not up to a central administration to censure the pastor but totally up to a pastor's individual congregation if members feel it's warranted. A regional church body comprised of ministers and lay activists can become involved in cases of misconduct or illegal activities.
The word "some" should be "most". Except for the die hard UCC cheerleaders, it's tough to find someone that will stand by Wright's comments. Conference Ministers across the UCC compounded the problem by scrambling to get the talking points out to local ministers so they would be prepared for questions about Wright this past Sunday. At least "some" saw through the spin.

It is a little surprising that Thomas would fall back on denominational polity to try and keep his hands clean of Wright, especially after his strong words of support just a few days ago. As I mentioned last week, Thomas has not had a problem chastizing other churches in the UCC that haven't marched in step with the national office.

It's quite possible that Thomas is realizing that the folks in the pews are finally taking notice to what our national leaders are doing and saying. With an ego the size of Ohio and an arrogance to match, Thomas likes to paint himself as both prophet and martyr. Genuine prophets and martyrs usually don't claim such status for themselves, it is placed on them by their followers. In the last couple of weeks, Thomas has proved to the members of the UCC and the public that he is neither... and no amount of talking points will fix that.
posted by UCCtruths, Wednesday, March 19, 2008

9 Comments:

Someone should tally the media descriptions of Trinity. My guess is that they all note "the largest church in the UCC".

So now the UCC is seen as Trinity. Yep that's going to go down well at the coffee hour in most UCC denominations, but everyone is too polite and PC to say much about it. Your "Crazy Uncle" is standing in the town square shouting.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 10:47 AM  
The problem isn't Jeremiah Wright. It's John Thomas.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 10:56 AM  
Jeremiah Wright is a BIG problem. So is John Thomas, and the UCC -- now, more than ever. Saw a poll last night that 58% of the public have heard Obama's pastor's hate rantings. Not good for Obama or the UCC.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 11:06 AM  
Rev. Jeremiah Wright is no longer a pastor. John Thomas is our President and General Minister for more than a year.

On any given Sunday, pastors can say outrageous things. And yes, to be sure, there seem to have been a lot of those Sundays at Trinity UCC.

But John Thomas had an opportunity to distance the denomination's corporate and public identity from Rev. Wright's hateful rhetoric. But he didn't. In fact, he wrapped portrayed hate speech as prophecy.

A more responsible General Minister and Denominational president would have offered muted criticism of Rev. Wright's comments, and then said that such sermonizing does not typify the denomination as a whole.

Instead, John Thomas affirmed Rev. Wright's message which by the way, is absolutely contrary to the message offered by the God is Still Speaking Campaign, which many local churches invested in and which cost substantial amounts of money. In short, Rev. John Thomas undermined a church-wide publicity initiative meant to promote local UCC churches. Rev. Thomas did it to advance a particular agenda, and not to further the motto of the UCC "So that all may be one." ("So that all may be none" is more like it.)

A modest proposal:

1. Rev. Thomas resigns.
2. An intentional interim replaces him until the next general synod.
3. The search committee is put on notice that their next pick for the UCC president is a crucial one. Another candidate like Rev. Thomas, who seems afflicted with a catastrophic inability for self-reflection and irenic behavior, will cause further harm to the denomination.

Rev. Thomas needs to resign. His ministry has been a long drawn out denominational nightmare.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 12:27 PM  
What is frustrating about life in mainline denominations (by no means only the UCC) is how denominational leaders will selectively rely upon denominational polity when it suits their purposes, but not otherwise. That is how in the PC(USA), the office of the Stated Clerk has been very outspoken about church property issues (and various political causes) but pleads virtual silence when it comes to constitutional and Biblical ordination standards.
commented by Blogger Presbyman, 1:03 PM  
"very much in the tradition of Biblical prophets....."???? Definately reading a different Bible than me!!
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 1:41 PM  
The lynching of a black Church is a national disgrace.

Have you visited Trinity? Do you know the people there?

Have a nice Easter . . .
commented by Blogger euddoggwyn, 7:04 PM  
My view on the Wright Sermons is that the most extreme statements have been cherry-picked out of context. Yes this will become a problem for the image of the UCC, but it is a problem because of how the statements are labeled and presented in the media. The damage has already been done in the court of public opinion, and continuing to focus on it will keep it in the news and further damage your church. Full disclosure: I am an Episcopalian, and our church has been in the news quite a bit lately too, if you haven't noticed. You just have to get past these media moments and try to find common ground with congregations with whom you disagree.
commented by Blogger Mike, 11:15 PM  
The real enemy lies within our individual hearts.

As far as the "God is Still Speaking" campaign... This is a good slogan and it is good that the UCC realizes the God has always been speaking. The problem within the UCC leadership and many of its churches is that they are preaching that God somehow conveying new and never before revealed truths. Sometimes I feel like I'm in a Mormon denomination with all these new revelations such as the affirming of sin when it comes to homosexuality.

Mike - Rev. Wrights statements have not been taken out of context, GD America can only be taken one way as well as his statement about Aids be created to serve as some kind of genocide of Americans of African descent. This are inflamatory statements that only serve to keeps the wounds from healing.
commented by Anonymous omd, 3:35 PM  

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