Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Church Demonstrates Congegational Repentance and Reconciliation

Loved this story of a Baptist church in Memphis practicing reconciliation and healing after a near church split. The excerpts below are from an article in the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspaper.
"Since 2006, there have been several heartbreaking situations that have occurred in our church family that resulted in broken relationships, broken trust, divisions within our church family and a damaged witness in our community," Dr. Charles Fowler, the church's senior pastor, wrote to the congregation last month....

....Church leaders and members had been battling each other for control for years. One pastor resigned in 2006, citing "the protection of my wife and children" after a long and bitter dispute over church governance. Three years later, another pastor resigned after an angry dispute over worship styles and other issues.
Pastor Charles Fowler led his church through a season of repentance for division and then a worship service of confession and forgiveness.
On Sunday evening, Jan. 29, in Germantown, Fowler called his flock together to confess, forgive and repent corporately in a special service he called "Grace Applied."

"We have prayed so long for this service," Fowler began as hundreds of past, present and future church members and leaders filled the seats of the worship center. "Your Holy Spirit has prepared the hearts of many, many people who have a desire to be here tonight."

Fowler had prepared for the service by writing a declaration of confession and forgiveness for the congregation to read aloud together. He also set the stage with three chairs, three basins of water and three white towels.

Pastor Fowler invited the three former pastors of the church to the platform, and washed their feet as a representative of the congregation.
"I would like to begin this service the way Jesus began the Last Supper in the Upper Room," Fowler told the three men. "On behalf of our church family, I'd like to wash your feet." .....

.....Fowler removed his jacket as the three former pastors took their seats on stage. He knelt in front of Story, then Shaw and Kitchings, removing their shoes and socks, pouring water over one foot, then another, drying each with a towel.

"It was a tremendous display of servanthood on his part," Kitchings said. "Jesus said to be great, you must be a servant. My only regret of the evening is that I did not think about washing his feet, in response." ....

.....Next, the congregation reassembled, stood and read aloud Fowler's "Declaration of Grace Applied."

"We confess that in the past we have been unloving and repent of this sin," they said.

"We confess that we have not, at times in the past, preserved the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace and have allowed the unity of this body to be broken. We repent of this sin." 

 Why don't we see more stories like this? Read the whole thing at the link.