George Knight: Unions Standing Together
Before beginning my remarks I should note that I was blessed by the London meetings, not only by the Christian spirit of the presenters and participants but also by the balanced presentations.
Looking back after two days at home, I would like to expand a bit on my Thesis 9.5 regarding the unions standing together. In our present context standing together has at least two stages. (1) In the first, standing together is standing in solidarity in a move toward conciliation in a spirit of Christian love in the face of aggressiveness by certain ones in leadership. At this stage standing is not physical but unity of action and concern. But it is still standing together in the face of injustice and divisiveness. (2) The second phase, if conciliation fails, could actually mean standing together in much the same way as the German princes had to stand in their famous Protest against the powers of the church and the empire 500 years ago. The second stage, of course, only comes into play in the face of threats after all other options have failed.
But—and here is the reason for my writing today—I believe that a key element in stage one is to help leaders around the world see both the strength of the coalition and the reasons for its convictions. It is important for both those at Silver Spring and elsewhere to grasp the magnitude of those joined together who are willing to stand for the issue. In short, that the GC is not dealing with a couple of union conferences in NAD and a couple in Europe but perhaps 20 or 25 in at least four world divisions. Such a realization, coupled with the fact that the problem is not going to just go away, should temper, moderate, and slow down the course of action of those with a burden on the issue. It is one thing to threaten to disband two unions in NAD but quite a different thing to face a solid consortium of a score or more of unions from around the world who desire honesty, justice, and due Christian process and are willing to repeatedly and consistently call for it in a spirit of unity and Christian love buttressed by firmness and conviction. In short, ongoing publicity is just as important today as it was in Luther’s time. That is why I have copied this letter to some of the publicity leaders in the church.
Another way of making my point is to note that if standing for the right at stage one is successful, the standing at stage two will not be necessary. My take is that there are a lot of leaders around the world who are watching for two things. First, the actions and words of the “London” group, and, second, the actions and words of those at headquarters. Of course, the latter have the official channels of communication under their control. That makes it all the more important for the rest of us to do all we can to communicate our insights and burdens. My hope is that with God’s blessing and with Christian outreach in public and private conversation a critical mass of those concerned with the church from around the world, those who at the present time are sitting on the fence and do not want to see injustice and possible schism, can be encouraged to realize that they can make a difference by their own words and influence. In short, I believe that by publicity, conversation, and action that a more serious problem down the road can be headed off and the consortium can grow. This is not the time to put our light and convictions under a bushel. The months ahead are crucial.
Now, I know that I am preaching to the choir. But even choirs need to constantly think of their priorities and act on them in timely fashion. Sermon over. Thanks for listening.
In Christian love and determination,