United and West Ohio Conference Controversy
Wendy J. Deichmann
June 3, 2010
Earlier this spring, I accepted a friendly invitation by the Evangelical Fellowship of West Ohio to speak at a June 7th luncheon about United, Renewal of the Church, and the 2012 General Conference. Nothing was said in connection with the luncheon about the controversy brewing in the West Ohio Conference surrounding the nomination of Mr. Bill Brownson as Conference CFO.
Recently an announcement was made by the EFWO regarding both events in the same communication. Some persons wrongly interpreted this to mean that I have endorsed the EFWO’s published statement and/or that I will speak to the EFWO’s letter at the luncheon.
Neither of these assumptions is true. In fact, I had not been apprised of the EFWO statement prior to the announcement that paired the two events together. I am not expected to address the subject at the luncheon nor would I if asked to do so. I am not a member of the West Ohio Conference and do not have a vote in this matter.
While the issue at hand is an important one, I am a guest appointed by the Church to serve in the West Ohio Conference in the ministry of theological education. It would not be in anyone’s best interest for me to allow myself or the seminary to be manipulated or pitted against one side or the other in a West Ohio political controversy.
At United we do not discriminate against persons on either side of this or other social and political issues. We believe it is God’s will and desire to renew the Church for the mission of Jesus Christ in the world and this requires a willingness respectfully to learn, live and work with persons who hold theological viewpoints and social and political opinions different from our own. What kind of witness and mission to the world will we have if we cannot get along peacefully, respectfully and gracefully in the Church?
It is my hope that all the members of the West Ohio Conference will embrace this as an opportunity to exercise prayerful wisdom and Christian faithfulness in an important decision making process that will affect the future of this Conference in important ways. With you I pray God’s purposes, higher than our own, will be fulfilled.
With faith and hope in Christ,
Wendy J. Deichmann
President, United Theological Seminary