Community of Concern within the United Church of Canada
"WHY I CONTINUE TO STAY IN THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA!"
By Rev. Dr. Allen Churchill
Good News Christian Ministries
April 29, 2006
The following is a summary from the Rev. Dr. Allen Churchill's address to our 18th Annual Meeting, which was held on April 20, at Ryerson United Church in Hamilton.
Many people have asked me why I don't leave the United Church, given its current problems. Believe me, it's not an easy thing to stay. Like keeping one's feet on the Empress of Canada on a stormy sea. I have great sympathy for my friends who have left or are seriously considering leaving. Everything seems against us in this most derelict of denominations. But I continue to stay, and with some considerable enthusiasm. Why? For a variety of reasons.
- Because the UCC hasn't yet stripped me of my ordination and membership. I continue to speak out against many stances our denomination takes in the area of faith, scholarship, ethics, and ministry. When I speak out against certain positions, I also have an opportunity to speak for certain other positions on a host of important matters. I speak as a bona fide member of Renfrew Presbytery in the Bay of Quinte Conference of the United Church of Canada. No one has suggested that I leave. The church hasn't given me my walking papers! If ever they do, it won't be without a fight.
- Because the Twenty Articles of Faith of the Basis of Union of the UCC is a clear and strong orthodox statement of Christian belief. The church hasn't repealed the Twenty Articles of Faith as both
the historic doctrinal basis of our church (however she chooses to interpret some of its doctrines), and we are told that the new statement of faith will not replace the Twenty Articles. Moreover, each candidate for ordination must be willing to exercise his or her ministry in accordance with the scriptures, and in continuity with the faith of the church (The Twenty Articles).
- Because no one in the UCC has said that I shouldn't preach the faith once and for all delivered to the saints.
- Because the UCC allows our congregations to decide by vote that they will celebrate only traditional marriage (between a man and a woman) on the church premises, as well as off.
- Because people continue to hear and experience salvation in a UCC environment. The Word can still be proclaimed in the UCC, and the Holy Spirit is still on the move there.
- Because congregations and ministers are not prevented from engaging in an evangelistic gospel ministry (eg. Billy Graham Mission) in an ecumenical setting.
- Because while Voices United has altered many of the historic hymns of the church so as to reduce the church's historic faith in its hym-nody, we remain free to use the
more traditional versions of those hymns. No one hymn book is sufficient any more. The authentic hymns will win the day.
- Because historically the Christian church has never been entirely free from heresy. Even St. Athanasius remained loyal to the active in the church when the majority of bishops were Arians.
- Because I wouldn't know where to go if I left! I have thought about the possibility of leaving. I have gone down a long list of possible ecclesiastical homes. But many seem attractive, none are persuasive. All have their own particular problems.
- I keep getting invitations to preach and teach in other United Churches. Apparently we are not alone in our fight to preach the gospel. People are leaving, but many aren't. Many are hanging in, fighting the good fight.
- Other churches seem to have their problems too. Mainline, old line, new line! All suffer from one deficiency or another. No church is invulnerable to temptation. All are faced with theological challenges.
- Because I am United Church through and through, I'm staying! Our critics can go! It was in the UCC that I was introduced to God, Jesus Christ, Scripture, Salvation, Theology, and Ministry.
- Because Christians in other denominations have urged me to stay where I am. (eg. BGM: When I offered to resign the chairmanship of the mission after Moderator Phipps made his comments, forty members of the general committee stood en mass and said, "Stay in the UCC, and continue to witness to the faith there. We are with you in prayer.")
- Because God has, I believe, a purpose for the UCC. The UCC is Canadian. It has a message, a style, and a method that few other churches in Canada can offer this country.
- Because the UCC is one of the largest mission fields in Canada. The fields in the UCC are white unto harvest! It would be foolish for me to go elsewhere.
- Because God has been giving me a message and a ministry in and through the UCC. There are existential or practical, as well as theological reasons why I shouldn't leave.
- Because it appears the General Council of the UCC is getting nervous! "The UCC is in freefall!" "Don't raise the ownership of property question; we could lose!"
- Becausc people listen to my radio programme (about 7,000). They turn aside to see this wonderful sight. A UCC preacher who preaches the gospel!
- Because God can use non-believers as well as believers to do His bidding (Isaiah 45:1).
- Because God isn't finished with us yet!
- Because we've got scripture, the Holy Spirit, scholarship, history, and time on our side!
Editor's Note: A full tape of Rev. Dr.
Alien Churchill's address is
available from the COC office, 1-800-465-7186. The cost is $10
Good News Christian Ministries