Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Church in Our Midst

Picture taken from

This is an update to my previous post about the goings-on at CCUC in Chicago. It has been a rough last few weeks. When I last reported, I made it known that I was going to try to stay at CCUC to help people transition and help people find a new pastor for our flock. Since the time of our last AMA meeting though, it seems that internal changes had taken a few more steps in the wrong direction. It seems that 50% of the English deacons were asked to step down and the other 50% were left with the job of transition but given no blueprint for help on how to do that. Now, there were only four deacons on the English congregation side so 50% was a large amount of manpower. That aside, these four people, who spent much of their life helping the church and doing their best to help it grow and guiding the younger, seemed to be cast by the wayside in lieu of plans that they were not privy to. Long story short, the deacons decided to stick together and see if this was more of an opening of doors rather than a closing of doors on their ministries and their time at our church. I for one, am glad they did.

In the previous few years, I have seen more and more disregard for certain people and ministries in the church. It started out as just friends and colleagues who were upset or disgruntled about certain things as far as their leadership was concerned, at least that’s how it seemed to me. Then, it started leading to rumor and stories behind the scenes, people leaving secretively and publicly. So in the previous few years and more recently, I guess people who have left, who were more in the know than I was, left for good reason. I didn't give it much thought for a time, but I ended up leaving for a good 6 to 8 months as well. It seems the atmosphere of the church had really changed from the time that I had entered CCUC. I told friends and leaders this a few times. I didn't feel the atmosphere of understanding, of fellowship, and of love that I use to. Although I did find it at another church for a few months, the atmosphere there changed as well, and I realized that all churches must have a time that they go through where they deal with this. With that change at the other church, I made my way back to CCUC. With that lesson learned, I decided to come back and be patient. Things kept changing for the worse though, I saw leaders who seemed to be almost prejudiced against, I saw the leadership very distraught over bitterness, rumors, accusations, and other issues that had remained for many years. I saw people I trust very much, reach out with open arms and try to repair damage that was caused by certain parties in the church, yet it was rejected, or no definitive answers were given. For me as well as others, the ousting of Pastor Green was the “straw that broke the camels back.” I won't mention it again because there's a previous post on it but from that event, I saw ugliness, disregard, and sinful attitude from more than one person that made me think about leaving again.

To the exciting time that started today, I guess I'm part of a church plant now. I know I said that I would stay at our current church, I had resigned to do that after much thought and much prayer. But, I also was torn thinking about how I could even think about leading or think about a position in leadership knowing that those above me would have such disregard for their fellow brothers and sisters. Church is not a business, it's a family, and it should not be treated like a business, cold and heartless. I am pleased to say that I know three of the deacons fairly well. They are all people I consider and I can call friends. And although one of the deacons I don't know as well, I know of him and his family, and he and his family do not take the word of God lightly. Make no mistake, these four men must have prayed, talked with each other, and agonized over this decision for many a night. God gave them an opening though, Pastor Green, who still feels that his calling is to our community and to Chicago, made that fact known to them over conversations as well. So now we have a core group of five, highly respected, leaders of our congregation who feel courageous enough to start a new church based on the biblical values that we all, including all of the CCUC deacon board, should be following. I know we are all human, some of us get drunk on power, money, our own self-worth, entitlement, and a multitude of other things. The deacons are making this move because of a continual disregard and sinful actions though, and although I have not been here as long as they have or experienced all that they have, I trust them greatly and have seen the same actions toward leaders and our congregation over the past few years. For me, I probably was privy to these types of actions for the first time just over a year ago. Perhaps that's when Pastor Green started becoming a target, I don't know but I've digressed too far.

The point of all this was to tell you that a new church is starting! For now, opening day seems to be September 12th. We had a good turnout this week for an informative meeting. A lot of people I've had the pleasure to fellowship with for many years were there. A lot of leaders that I respect and care about were there as well. They were all making a commitment or strongly thinking about making this move together. I too am in that boat. My human side wants to say, “You reap what you sow,” there was sinful action and total disregard for an entire congregation and a man who was treated very unfairly who didn't deserve it. But, my brotherly Christian side worries about what is going to happen to CCUC. One of my friends today said it looks like the English congregation is over, it will collapse. I seriously doubt it. For me though, I must, or I need to, worship where I feel loved. Where I feel I am trusted and where I feel I can trust others. So for now, I cast my lot with this new church. I promise them that I will help them with whatever I can. That doesn't mean I won't help CCUC. There are brothers and sisters who I care about there and I will continue to endeavor to make sure they are well served. I will continue to check on them and I will continue to pray for them. For now though, I am excited and I can't wait to see what God has in store for us. We have been blessed with great leaders, who, in the past, have literally wept for the church, they are caring leaders and all at different stages of life, are great examples of how to live biblically. Yes, no one is perfect, they even admit they are not, but they are great examples, and worthy of trust.

On a side note, there is talk of joining “The Alliance.” For the few months that I was at another church, it was a Presbyterian church. I had noticed that the pastor as well as the church was part of a larger, stronger group of churches, a Presbyterian organization. I always admired that and I wondered why Christian churches, CCUC, and other Baptist churches I've been a part of, didn't have this. It must be a great stress reliever to not only the pastor but also the congregation to know that there are funds as well as resources and materials to help the church grow even if the congregation is small or not that well off. It was suggested today that perhaps we would join The Alliance for at least a few months to a year and see how that relationship plays out. I'm leaning towards that as a good choice on how to start. I've been looking at their website and they have many good articles and materials for church plants as well as established churches. They also share their resources with foreign ministries which is really great as well. So, like I said, I’m not a leader, but I'm looking forward to this as being a very good long-term relationship, I don't know much about them other than what I've read today, but they look like a great organization that has the tools that might help us get off on the right foot. There are church accountability and Internet accountability groups for example, they seem like great programs that are outside the box. I'm really interested in seeing how these programs work and they impress me as far as not seeing programs like these anywhere else. I encourage everyone to take a look at their website and check them out, especially if you're thinking about joining this new church and giving your opinions.

Well, I've practically written a chapter in a book here, I'll give it a rest for now but I just wanted to express my thoughts and my excitement for the future, God is really working toward something here. If anybody wants to visit after this church is started on September 12th, just show up, it's going to be at the Daystar elementary school. It's on 15 and State, easy to find, see you there!

If anyone wants to comment, leave one here as well. I welcome all comments although remember, I’m not part of the leadership and they may or may not be reading. As always though, my space is always open for your words as well as mine.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I used to attend CCUC English services some 30 years ago when I was in Chicago. What sad news you bring indeed. I've heard Dr. Green preached some 15 years ago and am surprised that he left Trinity for CCUC.

A quick research seems to indicate that Dr. Green actually sued Trinity over a denial of tenure application and non-renewal of the employment contract after it had ran out. My friends at Wheaton College also told me that he dad a hard time fitting in and was let go by a local Chinese church there. With the CCUC situation, should we consider that there may be another side to the story? Maybe the leaders are not giving a full explanation to protect Dr. Green's reputation? Chinese churches tend to be rather conservative and generally less understanding with their clergy seeking justice thru the legal system. Maybe Chinese churches are not where God can use Dr. Green best?

It has always been political at CCUC. BTW, the Deacon Emeritus is not from the Cantonese side but from our own congregation. He's probably one of the most political ones but is a real zealot for God. Disagree with the means, but always be willing to give your brothers benefit of the doubt regarding their motivations. God bless.