[UPDATE: Convergence website removed Walla Walla University Church from their list of affiliated churches around 3 PM on Monday the 18th]
On Sunday the 17th of September, the Walla Walla University Department of Relations and Advancement issued the following email statement:
I am writing with an early, internal alert about an article that is circulating on social media related to the Walla Walla University Church and our treasured colleagues there. You’ll find it here.
I have been in dialogue with WWU Church pastors and can report this to you:
- No one on WWU Church’s leadership team knows what “Convergence” is.
- They do not know how WWU Church’s name was placed on this web site (the sign-up form on the site appears to allow most anyone to do so on behalf of an organization).
- They are working to track how the church’s name was placed on the list, and will consider all appropriate avenues for response to whoever did it.
- Sadly, the web site’s editor, the article’s author, and those who share this article without first checking with the church to ensure its truth do so outside of biblical principles suggested in Matthew 18.
- The church will gladly chat with any concerned person, (509) 527-2800, firstname.lastname@example.org.
As to the claim that most anyone can sign a church up on this (Convergence) site as a member of their Progressive Church Network, here is the website's sign-up form. Notice that a person must verify that they have the church's permission to submit a church for listing.
On the Site's "Make Yourself Visible", church sign-up page, it says this:
IF YOU ARE A CONGREGATION WHO BELIEVES:
in equality for all people, advocates for the rights of immigrants, people of color, and LGBTQ people, and believes we should work together to heal and protect our planet, it is time to make yourself visible. Join a growing network of progressive Christian churches who are organizing and mobilizing to create a more just and generous world.
Fill out the form below to have your church listed alongside the many other just and generous churches in our growing network.
Heading the list of affiliated churches is this qualifier:
The churches listed below have all provided their name, information, and have self-identified as congregations that prioritize the following values:
1. equality for all people
2. advocating for the rights of immigrants, people of color, and LGBTQ people
3. a commitment to work together in the healing and protecting of our planet.
If you are looking for a church that affirms these values, you can browse the list below.
Walla Walla University Church is listed in full public view on this Convergence site, as the Friday News & Commentary article acknowledges. We contacted the Convergence website for more information, and have yet to hear back from them.
Alex Bryan listed emergent & spiritual formation author Brian McLaren as recommended reading material in his breakfastfires blogspot in 2007. Also, Alex Bryan is believed to be one of the Adventist leaders referenced in this "Conversations behind the Pulpit" document (see last paragraph on page 1) who met with Brian McLaren and were encouraged by him to remain in the Adventist Church and be a "force for change." For these reasons, it is believable that WWUC might forge an alliance with Convergence (where McLaren is a board director).
As to the Matthew 18 reference, we respectfully believe that Walla Walla University is misusing Matthew 18 in their reference to it. Matthew 18 is for the restoration of interpersonal relationships, not for doctrinal and/or teaching errors.
According to the email above, WWUC claims that they have no knowledge of Convergence and do not know who added WWUC to the website list. They further add that they are "working to track down" who placed them on this website.
Our intention at Fulcrum7, as always, is to encourage our readers and inform them of pertinent news items that potentially affect our faith & our church. The concern in the above email is noted, and we assure both Walla Walla and our readers that if WWUC was somehow placed on the Convergence website against their wishes, we will make it known when/if their name is removed from the Convergence site as a Progressive Network Church.
If WWUC does not agree with the three principles stated on Convergence' website, this could be an excellent opportunity for them to make it plain.