WSJ: The Bully Pulpit
Friday, May 22, 2009
We interrupt this Rip Van Winkle sleep to thank the Wall Street Journal for shedding light on the UCC's Southeast Conference effort to steal away the assets of the small Center Congregational Church in Atlanta.
The article, "The Bully Pulpit," written by Jim Auchmutey, appears on the Journal's website and print edition.
So why is the Southeast Conference so interested in this little church? It all boils down to this--pure greed.
Center's property--located in prime Atlanta real e$tate--is held in trust, and technically not by the church itself. That crack in the door is the opening by which the thief is trying to enter.
According to the winter, 2009 edition of Networker, published by the Evangelical Association, the Southeast Conference claims that they are the only true successors of the Congregational denomination, while Center rightly replies the Congregational tradition includes not only the UCC, but also the National Association of Congregational Christian Churches (NACCC), the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference (CCCC), and the Evangelical Association of Reformed and Congregational Christian Churches (EARCCC).
If Center Church was dissolving, the Southeast Conference might have a legitimate case. Instead, this little congregation voted to leave the UCC in 2006. Even though 36 in attendance is considered a good Sunday, the church is still very much alive. Bottom line, they disaffiliated and are entitled to keep their assets, as the UCC Constitution explictly states.
Oh, one more thing. Center and its pastor, Rev. J.R. McAlilley, oppose a conviction held in highest esteem in UCC culture--same-sex marriage. While the Conference Minister, The Rev. Timothy Downs, says that Center could have remained and dissented because the UCC welcomes a diversity of opinion, in practice, UCC churches that oppose same-sex marriage rarely (if ever) have platforms in conference life to express that dissent.
May Goliath fall down again.