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Pastor Schaller

To: Affiliated Pastors of GGWO
From: Pastor Schaller
Re: My opinions on Sandy Cove, presiding elder position in Baltimore, the anointing, and affiliation

I will attempt to be brief on the issues of Sandy Cove, the chief elder position of the Baltimore church, the anointing, and affiliation. I am writing because there are questions regarding my view on these issues.

First: My opinion on the Sandy Cove meetings

I very much enjoyed our four days together in the first Sandy Cove conference. I have often referred to Sandy Cove in a positive light in my classes at MBC&S, raps and private conversations. I always enjoy being with the brethren and believe God will give extremely blessed times as we assemble for prayer, study, fellowship and edification. The ministry has a lot of work to do, and these meetings are important for communication. It is important that we, as brothers, assemble - utilizing various formats for future S. C. meetings.

I think we need the face-to-face encounters. Though I know we use the phrase with familiarity, it is definitely evident that we all struggle with the tendency for subjective "jumping to conclusions mentalities". We suffer tremendously from the air that comes between us. S.C. helps pull the vacuum on the coffee beans. No air between us and this because God is between us. Imagine how Pastor taught… we think no evil. How many conferences have we attended where air was gone? How many congregations are living with God's power motivating people and stirring us to great things? No air is my thought.

I also saw and felt that many USA pastors were refreshed and that because the health amongst us is not always evident. I would love to see that change. I think it is a new time in our ministry. I am encouraged.

I also realize the value of preaching. It is God’s method of changing hearts and leading His people. The rich pulpit ministry of our brethren is cherished by all of us. The mystical fellowship of godly conviction in the Word is extremely liberating and edifying. This is why I believe our conferences wherever held are a great priority. I also feel that S.C. conference can follow this format as well. I look forward to Baltimore Convention this June with godly expectation. I’m sure that our presence in Baltimore will mean a lot to Dr. Stevens especially at this time in his life and ministry.

2. The presiding elder position for the church in Baltimore

I agree that Dr. Stevens is not replaceable. I also realize that all of us have experienced a precious and voluntary relationship with him as our pastor, friend, helper, teacher and guide. That relationship is irreplaceable. I agree with many of you that anyone who would ever suggest that that relationship could be replaced is worthy of “a swift kick from our spiritual foot.” Has the lack of communication in this regard led to jumping to conclusions? I think so. We have been left to stumble through this process.

Now I am writing briefly from my heart. Relationships of value are voluntary. Anyone can ask the people I have worked with what kind of relationships follow me. In two countries, Finland and Hungary, I have left administrations that are extremely healthy. There is honesty, transparency, forthrightness, truth and integrity amongst hundreds of people. There are open and transparent relationships that lead to trust and permanence. I am deeply thankful to God and I attribute it all to Him. I detest lies, gossip, slander, deceit, hypocrisy and backbiting. These are absolutely contrary to Christ. As I write, there is a plan for the church in Baltimore to vote to determine who will fill the place of presiding elder. I am a candidate for this place as well as Pastor Steve Stevens. This office is the legal chair of responsibility for the church in Baltimore and would function under the Senior Pastor, Dr. Stevens. I have a few reservations about this step in my life but I also sense a definite leading and direction. I cannot deny it. I am unable to direct my footsteps and therefore walk prayerfully. Please pray for me and my family that God would really have His will and His way. I ask for prayer in this regard. Seriously.

Two thoughts on the anointing

I would like to believe that all of us have a similar theological perspective on the subject of the anointing. However, I think there are some tensions amongst us on this subject. I have two points that might be helpful.

First, if a staff member of a church abused his authority by threatening a disgruntled member of the church with the threatening words “do not touch the Lord’s anointed”, then I could call that bullying, poor pastoral skills, abuse, etc. But like a policeman taking aim on a terrorist with a baby in his arms I must be careful not to take out the baby. Our shooting must be precise. I do not know exactly what we are shooting at. It could not be the essence of the matter but rather terminology and potential abuse of that terminology. Right? Isn’t the essence of this problem the use of something holy and sacred as a tool in the hands of a novice or in the hands of the common? I think we all have a Biblical culture, experience, and heritage that is so sacred to us, intrinsically woven into the fabric of our souls, that to extract this word “the anointing” would be unnecessarily troublesome. I am open to counsel on this matter. We should define our problems carefully and correct them. I think we are moving in the right direction.

Secondly another aspect of concern on the issue may come from the Elijah-Elisha story. Could one disciple receive twice the spirit of his teacher? Could a follower of Dr. Stevens receive twice his spirit? I think the story can stand on its own feet. Isn’t it instructive for us? I have embraced it for years with many of you. Isn’t it useful in our teaching? Isn’t the application of the story repeatedly being manifested thousands of times throughout history with thousands of people around the world? Why not?

Perhaps in this present environment the concept of one master and one disciple disturbs us and you need to hear from me. Has the ministry of Dr. Stevens fallen to one man? I believe we all, have had access, we all follow, we all reproduce what we have received and the principle continues with all of us in our perspective places of ministry. The anointing of God is manifested in all our lives through a personal cross. Following our teacher is one manifestation of that cross life. Shouldn’t we be one of the seventy who prophesied in the camp and Moses said forbid them not. These things are too high and beyond our grasp. We are simply to enjoy our ministry and follow Him. If pride is in the picture, God will resist us. We do not need to put controls on each other. We do not criticize each other. If we do, we may find ourselves in trouble. Carefree, loving service with a lot of encouragement, prayer, faith, and blessing is the order of the day. “I would that all men would prophesy” is the Spirit of Christ. I sit here writing thinking I know something. I really know nothing. I hope this is true and useful. I think it is.

3. Affiliation

I believe that all of us who have received GGWO teaching, experience, history, and global relations, have received an exceptional gift and a corresponding responsibility. People around the world are looking at us. The smallest church in our ministry is vitally important. All of us have been “fitly framed together.” For that reason, continuing in affiliation is important. Not a person should be lost, not a person out of place.

It is obvious that the next presiding elder in Baltimore does not replace Pastor Stevens. But does that mean that a local assembly cannot also organize a Bible College and promote a world vision? Could a local church be a home base? Of course! Some of our affiliate churches already are. Does that mean that a pastor and church could not boast of a vision for the world and work to that end? Does that mean that a local church could not spawn several generations of churches?

What if a church in the Greater Grace affiliation from Bismarck, North Dakota, built a church on fire with a world vision? Thirty years from now that church could be the home base for a hundred missionaries with churches in thirty countries. Is our affiliation to say that it is not a home base? When the pastor passes, is the affiliation to send a message that the church is no longer a home base? Can we decide this? Or should those who have been sent out decide it? Do I decide my own home? Who chooses my father? Could it be that the people sent from Bismarck have no other reference? Could it be that they are searching for no other? Could it be that they started from their church and still want their church to continue in the world vision with support and encouragement? Are the GGWO affiliates to define for the Bismarck missionaries what their home church is? Isn’t this already decided by the nature of the voluntary relationship? Could the missionary say that Bismarck is my home base, my home, and my sending church? If the language is to be changed – okay, but why? This is our language. In any case, we should definitely not tread upon the essence of the matter.

If this logic rings clear, why couldn’t Baltimore continue as a home base to some? Isn’t this especially true, considering that our missionaries and many American pastors have been trained to think of it as such? On a personal note, I have labored in Europe and Central Asia directing people to Christ and, indirectly, to our spiritual heritage. Many missionaries I know have done the same. These people are delighted to have Baltimore as a link in their own heritage. Don’t you agree that this choice for both our missionaries, and the disciples of those missionaries, is voluntary? Are we to tell people what we think of Baltimore or do they decide?

Regarding the US churches, again this is voluntary. A church may choose to have little to do with Baltimore. This is the pastor’s and church’s own choosing. In my opinion it should not be challenged. It is a time for gentleness in all of this. I would like my heart to be understood in this matter. Please… all are free… all are free. All of us hope and pray for the continuation of motivating examples, words of encouragement, edification in times of difficulty and the manifestation of Christ in the extended Body of Christ. We are told to discern, draw near, edify and lay down our lives. Therefore I have full confidence that our affiliation can continue with two models.

One affiliated church may see Baltimore as home base and the other may choose a more lateral affiliation. In other words, and I believe this is God’s work, some are under and some are beside.

But could anyone not be around any longer? Could any gather and degrade, or speak unadvisedly about others? Should some use our names to divide the Body? Let’s all say, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of [my] mouth.” (Ephesians 4:29-30) Why should there be divisions among us? Why are these contentions among us? Are we not carnal? (1 Corinthians 3:1-2) Why should we be jealous when we all have grace, and can have as much as we please? (Mark 4:23-26)

Why shouldn’t we look for diversity and rejoice in one hundred churches that work to see God do the following things?
1. Preserve the message with the clear sound of the finished work;
Produce full houses and great maturation of believers; and
Send out missionaries and support them.

Let’s go for it! The field is clear. As Paul would say, the race is on.

But why should someone tell the Africans that Baltimore is not their home base when they, along with Pastor Scibelli, continue to believe it is? Some GGWO non-American affiliates who are watching the unfolding of the events of the last months ask: “Do the USA pastors know that we want a home base?” Don’t you agree that this decision should be left alone? Can’t it be determined by itself? We are watching plants grow. One looks like a potato seedling. In months we see tomatoes. Who knows what we will become?

I realize we are all walking along in this process and sometimes there is room for air. Some of these things are too high for us, but God will lead and define in all ways. We are confident in His kindness and gentleness. Thank you all for your patience, support and great kindness toward me. I believe in my brothers in Christ. They are amazing builders. They are servants. They are Spirit-filled, Bible believing people. They have vision and I am on fire with them. I am eager to live and function in a cleaner and more stable environment. I know what that is. I am looking forward to the days when we will all be settled, but that starts in our own hearts. I believe it is possible. Our history declares it, as does our teaching. I can feel great days ahead, though we now live in some trouble. This is also good for us.

As was said in Civil War battles: “Hold the lines, boys… hold the lines.” Some of you pastors have started and labored from zero. Others have taken over churches with problems. Do we not owe it to each other to honor each other’s labor, knowing the price? Can we hold the lines and not break and run? Of course! We have traveled too far and too long to do that. We have too much to gain ahead of us. We will work out our problems, gain trust, forgive, pray, and go forward. I believe God is with us.

Pastor Schaller