As many of you know, ominous black banners went up at multiple churches in Fountains Hills this week asking: “Progressive” Christianity: Fact or Fiction? On Wednesday, an article, an OpEd piece, and a half page ad appeared in our local FH Times (see below). It turns out that eight churches of the Fountain Hills Ministerial Association are joining together in a sermon series attacking “so-called” Progressive Christianity for the next six weeks.
As Pastor David has written a best-selling book on the “Wisdom of Progressive Christianity” and The Fountains is the only openly “Progressive” Christian Church in town, (welcoming of LGBTQ folks, embracing of science, in dialog with other religions, etc.), it’s clear who the series is aimed at.
Friends of The Fountains like nationally-known author Diana Butler Bass (and others who keep a finger on the pulse of the national religious scene) say that they’ve never seen anything like this before: a coordinated smear campaign/attack by a majority of the churches in one town against a single other church. It is an unusual enough event that Fox 10 News came out to do a story. If you didn’t see the report live the other night, CLICK HERE to VIEW
Far from being a bad thing, we believe that in the long run, this is a wonderful opportunity for The Fountains. The outpouring of support from literally around the world has already overwhelmed our office email and Facebook page. Visits to our website have increased a thousand-fold and various organizations and bloggers are picking up our story. Plus, there are many, many allies and supporters who have indicated that they’re going to be with us at The Fountains on Sunday morning, May 17th – including our Bishop, Robert Hoshibata and his wife, Greta.
So you can get a sense of what’s going on, below you’ll find the FH Times article and ad. Above is a picture of one of the banners. The whole series seems to be a continuation of the many recent letters in the OpEd section of the local paper with our neighboring pastors calling The Fountains an apostate church and Pastor David a vicious, intolerant hypocrite.
While this all may seem scary, it has already proven to be tremendous publicity for our church that “Prays Well With Others” with Open Hearts, Open Minds, and Open Doors. Our strategy is to not be defensive or argumentative, but to keep articulating the positive attributes of Progressive Christianity and always err on the side of grace as we move ahead. There are many who are hungry for the message The Fountains offers – we look forward to this situation helping us reach more and more of them!
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us or Pastor David directly. We’re looking forward to an amazing Sunday with lots of new friends and supporters in attendance as we Reach, Touch, and Teach by living and sharing the stories of Jesus!
Hunter Lott, Church Council Chair & Beth Dyer, Lay Delegate to Annual Conference