Dear brothers in Christ,
This letter has been on my heart for awhile and it’s difficult to write but I wanted to share more of my heart. I had spoken to you following the Lebanon CoB meeting & I appreciated your sincerity & willingness to listen. Thank you.
I am grateful for my heritage in the Church of the Brethren. I have 2 uncles, a Grandfather & Great-Grandfather who were ministers/evangelists in this denomination who are now Home with the Lord. They, along with many other ministers/evangelists, have greatly impacted my walk with the Lord in a positive way over the years. I cherish the Bible based & Christ centered teaching I have received since childhood & continue to receive at Midway. These leaders are not perfect but had/have a sincere desire to follow Jesus Christ, believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of God & want to tell others the Good News of salvation. I also appreciate the history of the Church of the Brethren & will always consider it a part of my Christian heritage. As I’m sure you know, Alexander Mack studied the Bible carefully & prayed earnestly along with others & eventually stepped away from the established churches of the time to reject infant baptism, initiate adult baptism, etc. Eight were baptized in 1708 in Germany & this group of believers grew quickly. Their step of faith caused intolerance & persecution for many of the early Brethren in Europe & eventually they migrated to America due to this & economic hardship.
Five years ago I was treated for cancer. Hearing that diagnosis is life altering and difficult. I wanted every single cancer cell out of my body! I liken this scenario to what is happening to the Church of Jesus Christ worldwide & not just the Church of the Brethren. There has been spiritual warfare, as your July letter refers to, for thousands of years & Satan wants to destroy the witness of the Church. (Eph 6:10-18) One of the ways is immorality, whether it be pornography, affairs & now same sex relationships/marriages, etc. Tragically, immorality is within church leadership in various denominations, including the Church of the Brethren. The only way the Church will be healed from this “cancer” is by true repentance before the Lord Jesus Christ, being cleansed by His blood & clothed in His robe of righteousness. Church leaders are on the forefront of the battle and if they fall, the congregation will likely be led astray as well. A word picture that was given by my Great Grandpa likened apple butter to “sin” & cottage cheese to a “Christian.” Mixing the brown apple butter in the white cottage cheese will definitely color it & there is no way you can make the cottage cheese pure white again except by a miracle. Likewise, when we sin we are stained & only Jesus can purify us again. Therefore, we need to pray for one another, especially for church leaders, to stand firm in their faith in Jesus Christ, our Redeemer. Also, people in church leadership who are living in & condoning sinful lifestyles need to be corrected. The Apostle Paul confronted the sin of sexual immorality in the Church boldly & decisively when a man had his father’s wife. ( I Cor 5:1) Sadly this “cancer” isn’t being effectively treated in our denomination.
I don’t want to come across as unloving or a “goody two shoes” in this letter. As a nurse, I have had co-workers as well as patients who were homosexual. I also have some family members involved with this lifestyle or struggling with same sex attraction. I show them love & have had respectful conversations with them but I pray that they will walk in His light and victory. I acknowledge that I am a sinner saved by grace and want to be under the Lordship of Jesus Christ in all of my life & to daily walk in His Truth. I pray for the Holy Spirit to reveal blind spots & sins in my life, to be sensitive to His conviction & to seek His forgiveness when I knowingly sin, as well as for unknown sins.
You are ministers, so you are familiar with Scripture that teaches us to examine our own lives; being careful when restoring a believer who was living in sin so we ourselves aren’t tempted (Gal 6:1); the higher calling of leadership (I Tim 3, James 3:1), etc. Down through the ages, since the Church of Jesus Christ was founded, history has recorded many periods of disagreements among each other, apostasy, tragic killings occurring in the name of religion, persecution from outside & within the Church, cults, etc. The early Brethren were not immune to disagreements as well. Sadly, this has blemished our witness in the world. In my generation I am grieved to see Churches divide over various issues. However, it is even sadder when their is “sin in the camp” among church leaders that causes division. We are no longer yoked equally when leaders live in sin. (2 Cor 6: 14)
Therefore, like Alexander Mack & the 7 others, who took a stand by faith in 1708 to follow Biblical Truth, I agree with Midway’s step away from being under the Church of the Brethren’s denomination
In addition, I am also grieved by the letters from the district that spoke about taking the church building and assets. In reading the 1st letter, I got the impression that the polity applied more directly to congregations that were closing their doors due to low attendance, etc. & therefore the district was in charge of dispersing the property. Midway, however, is a thriving & growing congregation who wants to serve God & tell others the message of salvation. Our support for the ministry at Midway is to nurture each other and grow His Kingdom. Should our vote on Sept 19 result in the majority of us agreeing to leave the denomination & should the district close our doors, I am very concerned about the negative impact on the community when they see church people do this to other church people. The world does not understand our convictions nor would they understand this action. I am also involved in the children’s ministry & I am concerned about how closing the doors would impact the ministry to the children until we could get into a permanent facility again. We have many other resources within the building that would be lost to us as well, some of which would be irreplaceable. I also appreciate heritage
Thank you for your time in reading my thoughts and concerns. Please prayerfully consider the impact that your decisions will make on us and the community.
Kathy Bollinger from Midway