The ACBM website as at 25 October 2017 states there are 18 members of the Taipei ecclesia. The ACBM annual report for 2017 reports there are 10. This ecclesia, as suggested by the ACBM information, was not long ago a self-sufficient meeting holding both memorial meetings and study classes. Today there are three sisters, occasionally 4, sometimes 2, clustered around a Skype call listening to an exhort from South Australia.
This sudden collapse warrants careful consideration. The events which have led to its demise are better known than its current parlous state. A review is warranted given the damage done – although some will passionately oppose any questions being asked.
The Lord knew well the trouble that would afflict his disciples over the years of his absence. He gave specific advice on ways of dealing with disputes. One of these powerfully given was the parable of the wheat and tares in Matt 13. The Lord instructed that his servants should wait for him rather than judge – lest they damage the good fruit bearing wheat. They had the ability and power to judge, they could accurately discern the tares – yet they should wait.
On the purported basis of a call from help from a sister in Taiwan, brethren from South Australia intervened in the ecclesia to “assist it”. Bro Jonathan Burke had already agreed in writing to cease any discussion about creation and evolution in conformity to a new ecclesial policy. Whatever the detail, the ecclesia changed its position after the assistance from South Australia arrived. Bro Burke was disfellowshipped.
Sis Burke was not disfellowshipped but was cut off from the ecclesia. ACBM representatives were aware of this. No provision was made for Sister Burke. No fault was found and still no provision has been made for her needs by the ecclesia and the intimately involved ACBM representatives.
Subsequent to this disfellowship and shunning, the SA regional committee of ACBM poured financial and spiritual support into the ecclesia (minus Bro and Sis Burke). Bible weeks, visits and financial support all started. Their intervention and support has resulted in the devastation of the ecclesia. Today there are 3 sisters on a Skype call and the Burkes remaining cut off (one deliberately, one without cause). The sister who apparently requested the ‘help’ no longer attends the meeting, nor do her family. The brethren who wrote (in remarkably good Australian) a disfellowship note to the Christadelphian Magazine also no longer attend. One can only imagine the distress in heaven at the loss of those for whom Christ died.
The SA Regional Committee has great zeal for God and are certain in their doctrinal position. But they have prioritized their doctrinal concerns (& preferences) over the Lord’s instructions. Jesus’ instructions regarding the separation of wheat and tares was ignored. His instructions for His ecclesia. The Lord demonstrated a specific model of dealing with issues in His ecclesias in Revelation 1-3, including on issues the Judge saw as doctrinally critical. Is this too strong? Of course in their zeal for doctrinal purity those in SA will strongly disagree. However the Lord invited us to consider the work of others by considering the fruit in Matt 7:15-19.
Good fruit comes from good trees. Evil fruit from evil trees. The fruit in this instance is evident. It is evidence which demands a response. The wheat has been decimated. A sister isolated. There should not be any difficulty in determining whether this has been the Lord’s work. An ecclesia has been ripped apart while under the close care of the SA Regional Committee of the ACBM. Protestations of doctrinal priority etc will be loud but should not drown out the voice of the Shepherd. The Lord’s teaching in his parable and his example in Revelation are doctrinal as much as any instance on matters of creation. There should surely be some accountability for this disastrous scattering of the flock – some immediate change in strategy.
The SA regional committee of ACBM intend to continue pouring donated money into Taiwan. They are appealing for more funds – without perhaps disclosing the fruits of their labour thusfar. Naturally they will blame the destruction on Bro Burke and those ‘evilutionists’. But this is ignoring the facts – the ecclesia was healthy and had resolved its differences. In their crusade to root out tares, as they call them, the South Australians have decimated an ecclesia.