Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ministry misstatements

It happens across all faiths - none are exempt. Members of a particular faith-based organization stray into politics for political purposes in support of their own ministry. It is happening now in my hometown on two issues with two groups.

The first is on the issue of Sunday sales of alcohol and a prominent, conservative protestant church is opposed. No surprise there. I'd very much expect this active, valuable, and important member of our community to voice their opposition - as they did with a letter.

What I didn't expect and what is less than consistent with their professed teaching is that this church included in the letter a statement critical of other members of the community that happen to also be members of the church.

We have, within our community, an organization charged with downtown development and business building activities. This is a quasi-governmental authority composed of business people with an interest in the downtown area. Two members of this authority are also members of the aforementioned church. The authority issued a letter, consistent with their mission, in support of alcohol sales.

When the church responded, they went beyond their opposition to alcohol to call out, though not by name, these two members of their own congregation to say they did not speak for the church. Of course they didn't, they wrote under a different banner. There was simply no need for the church to go beyond their opposition to the issue and bring negative attention among the congregation focused on two members.

The second involves a faith-based food ministry. In years past, this food ministry was supported by local churches. By coincidence, the church mentioned in the first example also provided operating space for the food co-op for some time. For various reasons, the church was unable to continue providing that space and the food ministry was forced to relocate.

The food co-op approached another local church for support. This church was in the midst of a real estate transaction with the city and had space available, but for a limited time. The church discussed with the city the relocation of the co-op ministry and the new space was provided for the food ministry to continue their operations.

Some time later, the church and the city concluded the real estate transaction and the food ministry became a tenant of the city until such time as the agreement reached with the church expired. Upon expiration, as had been contemplated from the outset with full knowledge of all parties, the city took possession of the building and the food ministry was forced to relocate yet again.

The food ministry is another wonderful, positive, and valuable organization within our community and everything appeared straight forward and understandable until the co-op decided to use public pressure and the media in an attempt to gain ongoing financial support from the city. The food ministry has been critical of the city - suggesting they're being forced out of the community [a day they knew would come years ago]. The food ministry approached our Mayor and Council recently at a public meeting requesting city funding to replenish reserves depleted because of the cost of relocating as if that cost was a responsibility of the city's.

The city has supported and made accommodations to benefit the food ministry through various means for many years - some perhaps that the co-op is even unaware of. It is disappointing that another positive, faith-based organization would resort to less than positive means to meet their needs.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting the Church is NOT upset with the Council allowing Liquor six days a week. I guess it is acceptable those days? Of course it is acceptable on Sunday for the other 700,000 people in Gwinnett which allow this in unincorporated and municipal boundaries.

I also find it interesting that the Co-op insn't upset at the two Churches that stopped providing space. Especially, since their membership is optional (unlike tax payers) and they do not have laws that prohibit giving away their money to religous or other organizations. Two double standards!