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Faith Without Works is Dead

BCM Spotlight BannerBY DAVID HOLSTON |

“Although it is difficult for those who love the church to admit it, it is becoming increasingly apparent that unless we become aware of the problems confronting us and do something about them, our church is going to be relegated to just another organization which we must attend.”

Do these words sound familiar, have you heard this lately? This statement is from the late Jack White, on Nov. 6, 1969. They opened a special Synod on Missions.

Photo via Unsplash.

There was apprehension entering this Synod, as revealed in remarks from the late James Hancock when he said: “Some of the presentations will probably make some uncomfortable, irritate some, elate some.”

Brother Jack White preceded me by about 25 years as the Director of Sunnyside Ministry. It was from a message he wrote that I found at Sunnyside Ministry that introduced me to this special Synod, he said that Sunnyside Ministry began as a result of that Synod. I found online the Wachovia Moravian edition that covered that Synod, and as I read the bold resolutions, I was very proud of my church.

Here are several excerpts from resolutions passed over those three days, I invite you to ask, are we still living up to these goals?

For space, I am going to paraphrase one of the resolutions from that Synod:

We will show God’s love and forgiveness to others by “loving the unlovely,” providing for the needs of others and helping them to self-sufficiency.  We will take public stands on issues like fair housing, fair education, and peace. We will do this to help ALL mankind have an abundant life.

Photo via Unsplash.

There was a resolution of the inclusion of youth in all phases of church life. And Synod directed the Board of Christian Education and Evangelism to hire a Provincial Youth Worker, ASAP. This Special Synod established the Board of Homeland Missions.

There were resolutions to study establishing a drug and alcohol treatment program, and a possible partnership with the government to create a housing program. There was a resolution that concerned race relations and emphasized that all members should examine their attitudes towards people of color.

There are no records of how many folks left upset, although the records indicate many of the resolutions were passed enthusiastically.

There were many more resolutions passed at that Synod, many likely never really got wholly studied or stated; some I am sure fell to the wayside. A few are evident today in the work of ministries like Sunnyside Ministry, Anthony’s Plot, and Estamos Unidos.

None of this should surprise us. Since 1464, we have said that caring for the burdens of others is our mission. As Jack White expressed, we need to keep our focus on the needs of the world, and not on remaining comfortable inside our churches.

It has been 50 years since we met to discuss just mission, maybe the time has come for another special synod. Just to keep us focused on the words of James, “Faith without works is dead.”

About the Author

Photo courtesy of David Holston

David Holston is the Executive Director of Sunnyside Ministry. Sunnyside Ministry is a non-profit organization that provides food, clothing, and emergency financial assistance to families in crisis. All funding for our assistance programs comes from donations and grants. In 2014, Sunnyside Ministry provided $1,883,040 worth of services to families in crisis situations. Grocery orders were provided to 17,634 people and clothing to 15,483 individuals.

Contact David Holston at [email protected]

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