On September 3, FBC voted to call me to be its pastor “contingent upon the merger of the congregations of FBC and BBC." In other words, if there is no merger I stay here. I have accepted this call.
It was not because I felt flattered by a 76% vote (198 of 260). It was, you might say, a modest approval. How many of the 62 “no” votes are adamantly against the merger only God knows. The two merger committees met the day after the vote for about four hours and earnestly discussed the implications of this vote. We did not run ahead quickly or without serious questions.
But it was after that discussion that I accepted the call with the full approval of our committee. Now the hard work of constructing the terms of the merger moves into high gear. We would still like to vote on the whole thing October 23 and, if it passes, worship together beginning January 4, 1987.
We are accepting the call and going ahead for the following reasons:
1) We believe the merger is still a good idea for both churches and will advance the cause of Christ more than if we stay apart.
1.1 We are being pressed and worn with three services on Sunday morning and were on the brink of building a $3-5 million complex. The expense, the controversy, the mental diversion, the ministry slowdown, the extended debt, the parking problems in such a project could all be avoided with the merger. And we could worship together for a change (for a while, at least!).
1.2 FBC is without a pastor, and is in much the same condition BBC was in 1980. The great potential there could be rekindled through the merger.
1.3 A strong center of evangelical worship and proclamation is needed in downtown Minneapolis and we believe the potential impact on the city, and the world is greater from that strategic location than ours.
2) Over three-fourths of FBC appears to support this goal. True, at least 62 people have some question at this point. But there are reasons why we are disposed to say the cup is ¾–full-and-filling rather than ¼-empty-and-evaporating.
2.1 The leaders of FBC voted at a higher percentage: out of 46 votes on the Advisory Council, only four were negative.
2.2 Some 15 reports are in from boards and committees and other groups that are meeting with their counterparts at FBC, and the responses are almost uniformly optimistic that we can work fruitfully together.
3) Even though there are those at our own church who will not approve of the merger, it appears from the support at the congregational meetings that the overwhelming majority are supportive at this time.
4) The depth and warmth of the comments made to me by those at FBC who have longed and prayed for a ministry like ours are more compelling than the opposition is formidable.
5) Significant pastoral ministries have been pursued after vote margins as modest as this one. For example Curtis Akensson at FBC and Tom Steller at BBC!
Whatever the Lord in his sovereign guidance brings to pass, I will rejoice in the continuing privilege of serving as your pastor.