This letter is taken from the Fourth Quarter 2002 newsletter.
Jim Row writes: I write to tell you of the varied experiences I have when approaching the "Accountability" issue as it relates to church matters, more specifically, the SDA church, my chosen church.
What I have experienced, I’m fairly certain, is not unusual for anyone who has had discussions on the matter. Some reply that it should be a case of let him who is without sin". Another is that "God will take care of His own." Yet another is "When did God appoint you or any one else to look after sinners and their actions?" And, of course, you have heard it said that what happens to the money I give to God is God’s business, not mine. This all falls into the realm of those "hearers" misconstruing what I have attempted to present (by way of urging others to be looking at the web site) as casting darts at fellow Christians rather than simply asking for "accountability" when it comes to both financial and business practices. Having accountability would eliminate the need or possibility of anyone needing to cast darts. When a human is assured that misdeeds can be traced, he is much less likely to participate in questionable activities. And when this deterrent doesn't work, quiet changes can be made to stop those activities being done again, at least by the same person(s).
If only those in a position of leadership (?) could realize that so much more could be done if they were indeed "squeaky clean".
On the other hand, I recently visited a medium (medium to large) mid-western city where the SDA church has come under the possible mis-management of local leadership. The result has been the leaving of the church by large numbers of people. Where have those who have left gone? They have formed new churches. New SDA churches! Praise the Lord who has the ability to apply the mis-direction and mis-administration of a few into the further spreading ot "His Church" into even farther corners of this city. The mis-management of the local schools has resulted in the gaining of strength for the boarding academy up the road a few miles. I'll end on this particular avenue by saying that God has abilities we have not yet even imagined to turn bad situations into blessings of more people. Now more people than ever are nearer to an SDA church, more evangelism is taking place, more health teaching programs are taking place than ever before, etc.
Now back to MCA. There are those who may, or may not be in violation of the principles of integrity. They may or may not be "squeaky clean". What ever the case, what is happening is that many, me included, are going around the established organization in the spreading of the good news (not the good news of SDAism but the Good News of what Jesus has done for each of us) and are doing it on our own with the help (both physical and financial help) of other interested parties. When the work assigned to mankind is done, it’ll likely not be done by a political entity such as "big wigs" from the GC. But it’ll likely be done by little people like you and me who are willing to sacrifice time and funds in areas where we can be accountable for what we do, what we spend, how we do it, what our motives are, etc.
This is not to detract from your goals. However, I applaud you, not for your unheard pleas for fairness, honesty, forthrightness, openness, etc. But rather I applaud you for bringing to my attention the lengths to which an inbred organization will carry on to protect their own hind sides and the hind sides of their cronies.
Thank you for again making me aware that it is up to me, and to you, and to our brothers and sisters to "GO" as Jesus commanded. We can do it without help or cooperation from the GC or its subsidiaries, the local conferences, or even from our paid pastors. Speaking of which, why not take a look at the cost of paid pastors and consider independently financed pastors who work for a living and pastor as their part of "finishing the work". Let’s see - - the disciples were tent makers (the home builders of their day?), fishermen, one time soldiers, teachers, etc. Why not have pastors follow that path rather than accepting mileage, home allowances, discounts for educating their kids, salaries, etc. etc. If they were independently financed or self financed, they would be freer to express themselves at meetings rather than laying that burden at the feet of those who are being kept in the dark as to certain conditions that may or may not exist within the organization. I know whereof I speak for I have been approached by pastors to be a spokesman on certain subjects needing addressing. This has been done because the raising of some of these questions would, could, or might endanger the livelihood of said pastors.
To put this all another way, MCA is looking for accountability. I look for the same but I also look toward a revision of organization. What worked for transportation in the middle 1800s does not work today. Times, needs, equipment, etc. have all changed. What worked for church organization 2000 years ago and 150 years ago may not be the best way to go today either. I am not suggesting that it wouldn’t, I simply raise the question.
Keep up the good work of MCA! It needs to be done and you do it well though so far, unsuccessfully as far as outward appearances are concerned. My prayers go with you as you strive to keep God’s church on the "straight and narrow"!
EDITORIAL COMMENT: As mentioned earlier, when church members consider conditions in the church to be simply not acceptable and they believe that their voices do not have any effect, some may decide to vote with their feet and leave the church. Others may vote be redirecting their resources and energies in ways other than through the church organization. This is, of course, a highly personal choice. What we object to is the ridiculous situation that pushed them into needing to make such a choice in the first place. How is it that we have become so used to the way things are that everyone isn’t saying "what’s wrong with this picture?"