Friday, September 29, 2006

tough actions

25 September 2006

Your Territorial Commander’s NameTerritorial Commander

Dear Commissioner,

We received the news of Major Chick Yuill’s resignation with great sadness.

We know that we have been made aware of only one side of what is doubtless a complex matter. However we feel a strong imperative to do something in response to this situation and this is why we write to you.

Our overriding concern is that at the heart of this matter there appears to be a serious, unreconciled dispute between General Shaw Clifton and Major Chick Yuill. We believe unfinished business such as this has the capacity to do great damage to our part of Christ’s church.

How can God use us as an Army of reconciliation in an alienated and divided world if we are divided one against the other? How can we advocate that others rise above their differences in a spirit of reconciliation when we are unable to do so ourselves? We write in the hope that someone can bring our comrades together in a spirit of love and wisdom and encourage them to work through their differences.

With great deference we ask, Commissioner, would you be willing to facilitate such a dialogue?

Please be assured of our continuing prayers for yourself, the General and Commissioner Helen Clifton and Majors Chick and Margaret Yuill.

Yours sincerely
Your Name

I realize that the above letter is just a small thing, but I do believe it to be an important step in all of this. Traditionally, it would be the TC’s who would bring something of this nature to account, and so I think it’s important that we let our TC’s know that this is something we are interested in them doing, and also challenge them to do it.

Prayer is also an important step in all of this. I’ve really been challenged this week (for the millionth time) that stressing over something I haven’t taken to God is a pretty pointless move on my part. I was lying in bed this past weekend, not sleeping, when I decided to pray about all of this. My first prayers were for vindication but, within seconds of beginning, I knew God was telling me that my prayers should be for healing and restoration, not vindication. My pacifist friend Roz would say that I was growing.

Having said all of that, I will say that I’m disappointed at the amount of emails I’ve gotten over this past week by people who have pretty strong feelings on the subject but who are unwilling to post those feelings publicly, or even to send an email to those in leadership, for fear of retribution. God calls us to pray in every situation, but he often calls us to action as well and, in the case of injustice, He always calls us to action. And if Salvationists aren’t going to stand against injustice, then somebody is going to have to go through those soldiership classes with me again, because I thought that was the whole point.

I think the other thing that has really bothered me in all of this is the belief that we should keep our faults hidden. There is something very Vatican about the whole idea of trying to portray our leaders as being without sin. And there is something very naïve (not to mention unbiblical) in believing that, as long as a group of godly men “got together and prayed about it”, that they must have arrived at the right decision. The Bible is full of godly men who just flat out got it wrong and I think it’s very dangerous when we start playing the “let’s keep our faults hidden” game. That’s about the time that God usually comes along and brings a storm of humility. And maybe in a few years we’ll look back and see that that’s what He was doing here.

Debate it on message boards if you will, or speak about it quietly in dark corners, but I implore you to also act. While I believe that the internet has become a very useful tool in holding our leaders accountable (both in and outside of the church), the internet will not, in and of itself, be enough. We must also act. The first step is in encouraging our local leaders (DC’s and TC’s) to do the right thing. What would the next step be?

Comments on "tough actions"


Blogger Bret said ... (2:40 AM) : 

Great post. I agree with you completely regarding your comments about hiding our faults. Of course nobody likes their dirty laundry splattered all over the internet . . . but when godly people fail, they get up and make it right . . . no matter what the cost . . .

Refusing to make it right with our brother is nothing more than pride (and bitterness, hatred . . .) whoever is at fault needs to fess up, forgive, shake hands, move on . . .

As far as the letter to the commissioner. . . good letter . . .well said. I think your on track. I’ll pray about that. Our officer's councils is this week.




Blogger Sean said ... (12:49 AM) : 

I don't know the people, but I read the letter. I do know that it fits with the army I know and have avoided involvement with outside of isolated nostalgic instances. I have seen and have been turned off by a spirit of fear, pride and an overall deception that leadership comes from loarding it over people because the idea that what is on their shoulders being reward for their own excellence instead of a call to lead God's church.
Not speaking in generalities...those involved in this situation and in leading this church, little "c", the salvation army need to sit down and read together Phillipians 2 ( which follows,) (maybe even attach it to the letter) and allow the Holy Spirit to convict and restore the church to service at the foot of the cross and to the awesome ministry it can do.

Philippians 2

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature[a] God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,taking the very nature[b] of a servant,being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

sorry for the scripture written out, but God says it way better than me.


Blogger lucy AR said ... (9:12 PM) : 

Hey Tim.
Been on holiday and have just seen your posts.
I admire your courage in taking your stand so staunchly, where- as you too have noticed -others seem silent in the name of peace/respect/whatever.
Kia kaha, Brother.


Blogger by the bay said ... (7:58 AM) : 

Ploughing on with the 1000 hr vigil for church functional health/conflict transformation here.

From experience, church mediation is best done by people with specific training in that area of work. The usual way is for a team of two mediators to work together, one from the church denomination in question, and one from outside that denomination. The mediators do not suggest solutions or positive pathways out - that is up to the parties. It is often very frustrating as we can see pathways they might take! But they have to take the time and find the courage to find those pathways themselves. We create a safe space 'outside' normal structures for difficult issues to be addressed. In multi-party conflicts, there are ways in which each person can have time to put in their story, be heard, and listen to others. It can be a slow process, which is helpful, as it gives people time to take in, and process what needs absorbing.

Power issues are tough ones. In a divorce mediation for example, you sometimes see the 'weaker' or 'poorer' party coming away having agreed to an arrangement which is basically unfair as the mediators see it. This can be deeply frustrating. But what you have to do is trust the process, which creates that safe space, to do its work - and allow the less powerful party to come back again later, after reflection, and argue for a fairer outcome. The gift of church mediation, is that it need not be an open and shut process. In a multi-party conflict, the parties can help each other toward a fair outcome.

We all exercise power in different ways, and there is always a power imbalance in mediation processes, even though mediation itself works best when there is a small power differential, and becomes increasingly difficult as the power imbalance of the situations increases. The best and easiest outcomes are where both parties have something they can give, and something they can gain. But church mediation offers something else - it offers the parties the chance to step outside their roles for a while, and speak on an equal basis. While you are unlikely to see the head of a militia or criminal gang doing this in armed conflict, the church provides this opening for people to find different ways of approaching the power in their roles. And humility is generally recommended! :0) We cannot escape entirely who we are in a conflict meeting - but church mediation allows us to be fully who we can be, as people who are working on being fully mature in the fullness of Christ.

I believe, as I blogged today, that that line in the Articles of War, "that I will be an example of faithfulness to its principles, advance to the utmost of my ability its operations, and never allow, where I can prevent it, any injury to its interest, or hindrance to its success." speaks to me of the truth that caring about church functional health and encouraging one another in the search for positive transformative pathways in church conflict is the responsiblity of everyone in the church, not just the leaders.

Warmest blessings,
Eleanor n/TSSF


Blogger JoJo said ... (12:08 AM) : 

Hey, Just wanted to voice my agreement with all that you've said on your blog. The situation is desperately sad and grossly unjust. I'm glad that for those of us whose voice is small (maybe even inaudible) there is a place for us to express our frustration and anger. I'm gutted that a man who has been such a Godly and dynamic voice has suffered such injustice.
I believe that reconciliation is absolutely where it's at and know that it is a cry that is being made from many different areas. I hope and pray it's heard and understood that humility is the attribute we most wish to see demonstrated by our leadership.
If our leaders do not understand the virtue of humility, if reconciliation is not achieved... We need to pray hard out that it is or I believe the consequences could be devastating to our movement.


Blogger Steve said ... (6:37 AM) : 

Excellent post!

I'll put it up on my blog also.


Blogger Will said ... (5:44 PM) : 

Thanks Tim. You don't know me - but I enjoy your blog. I'm a salvationist - soon to be candidate in Liverpool.

I too was surprised at the silence on the net about this. My feelings are all mixed up - often angry and wanting to make a fuss about it all and at other times trying to check my motives are right and its not just about a chance to have a go at our leadership.

I do believe though that leaders need to be accountable to those they lead.

A question I struggle with though is at what point is it right to challenge or object to those in leadership of us? Seems to me the bible is pretty clear about submitting to our leaders.

Our leaders are God-ordained. But they still make mistakes right?

When do you just do as you're told and when do you stand up and say, no that's not right?

Thoughts anyone?


Blogger lucy AR said ... (9:43 PM) : 

Hey Will.

Yeah- complex eh? The whole annointed leaders thing. Someone sent me an article entitled "Touch not my annointed" in regards to this whole issue. It raised some good points (relunctantly admitted) but for me it really highlighted the importance of team Leadership. I dont know how that would work- a Team of Generals?! Argh. Sounds horrendous! But imagine it.... Our current General has many many excellent abilities. He is very compassionate and pastorally gifted. He could well be the ony person to take the Salvation Army into the place we need to be in global policy making (development etc). However, he has flaws, right?! We all do. (Its true!)
Were a general to lead from a team of other general leaders their excellent points would be maximised and bad points controlled/minimalised.

What you thinketh?


Blogger Tim said ... (9:31 AM) : 

Will, I have lots of feelings on the matter, and I could take on several of your questions here. But, for now, I think I'll just take on one.

"When do you just do as you're told and when do you stand up and say, no that's not right?"

Anytime something isn't right.

Granted we should search the scripture, pray, and even seek advice to make sure that our own personal bias and/or feelings are not getting in the way. But if something truly isn’t right, we should always stand up and say so.

Lucy, I’ve always struggled with the “anointed thing” simply because I question what makes one man anointed over another. While I am not an officer in TSA, I studied, was licensed, ordained, and served nine years in the Baptist church before my wife and I felt a strong calling to join TSA. Our ministry responsibilities now match and even exceed those of many of the officers I know. Furthermore, is my CO any less anointed than the General? I question whether that theology holds any place in the New Testament church. Jesus is now our high priest, giving each of us full access to the Father. Please bare in mind that I am not saying anything here definitively, only that I question that line of thinking.

One thing’s for sure. Those of us who have been “called” to lead the church have been commanded to do so through humility and through the heart of a servant. Something I see as seriously lacking in many churches today, including our own where many people seem to have embraced the idea of being elevated up through the ranks rather than being responsible to serve and wash the feet of even more people.


Blogger Cari said ... (2:35 PM) : 

Jesus was pretty definate on the humility issue. When we are praying and serving we don't have time to complain and rebel. I've had some very painful lessons in the last 5 years on humility, and how I can't wear my Christianity as a self-made badge of honor. My salvation doesn't make me better than anyone. It makes me saved. I don't pretend to know the problems that you're going thru, or at least your specific situation other than what you've written, but I know first hand what everyone goes thru when your leaders don't get along.

It's always the children that suffer.

Leaders have an awesome responsibility. Where does it say in the Bible that they'll be held to a higher standard? I can't remember, but it's in there. Don't let your leader's tiffs cause you to stumble. Pray, and serve all the more. Reflect well the love of God-not the reputation of the church. Then you're always right.


Blogger Ryan said ... (5:45 PM) : 

Like many, the news of the Yuill's resignation and the surrounding issues has had a profound impact on me recently. Maybe that sounds a bit dramatic, as I wasn't a close personal friend of Chick, Margaret or Shaw and I don't have all the facts (and it seems that perhaps I never will).
I did, however, meet all of them on numerous occasions, during my time as a DYO in the UK and I have a great respect for each of their individual contributions to TSA. Working in Liverpool, I was geographically close to Chick’s ministry and was blessed to hear him preach, teach and share his heart on numerous occasions. His passion for grass-roots ministry really connected with me. Regardless of the current debate, I think he’s a great guy, with a great vision and passion for the Kingdom.
I don't know enough about the situation to say anything that hasn't been said already, but I feel so frustrated that the Yuill's have moved-on in this way. I'm hoping that despite the silence (present company excluded), people are pursuing this and trying to reconcile the problems.
Forgive me for making this a long comment, but I felt this story was relevant. This morning, a guy that I've known for a few months came to chat with me. He's been really connecting with our church community here, but over the last week, he went on a binge of drugs and alcohol. He's devastated at his "slip" and I think he needed to hear that neither God, nor the church would reject him for it. You see, even in his sin, he’s getting kingdom-minded in pursuit of salvation. God is pursuing him and he's using this guy's church community (i.e. "us") to pursue him for the kingdom's sake and to keep him accountable.
My point is that regardless of what mistakes have been made in the Yuill vs Clifton issue, I hope that people are pursuing this issue in love (yes, with a stack of accountability too). If we can pursue the fallen addict for the kingdom’s sake, but we let good (even if not faultless) leaders leave without a question, there is something very wrong with our mission!
Personally, I don't need to know who “sinned the most”, but I'm desperate to know, for the kingdom's sake, if people are going to get all fired-up in pursuit of a great loss to TSA and potentially to the kingdom (Please note; I’m not suggesting that the Yuill’s are being lost to the kingdom, but I fear there are a number of other people, outside of this blog, who are challenging their very faith (in Christ’s bride, if not the groom himself) over this unresolved issue; especially some younger individuals, who I care deeply for).
Tim; thanks for being a pursuer of facts, a pursuer of justice and a pursuer of hearts, all for the kingdom!


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