Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pretty big news...

hat tip to Br. Garotte of Moderation for this bit of news:

(I'd have discussed this there, but the blog only allows comments from livejournal users)

Full news here. All emphasis mine.

Bishop Carlton Pearson, who has been publicly criticized for teaching that all people will go to heaven, has folded his Oklahoma church into a Unitarian Universalist congregation.


After leading what once was a prominent charismatic church, Pearson said he chose All Souls because of its inclusive atmosphere, accepting gays, blacks and people of all beliefs or none.

“I wanted a place where my people could find safe harbor,” he told the Tulsa newspaper. “They’re already outcasts in the evangelical charismatic community.”

Senior Minister Marlin Lavanhar of All Souls said the addition of several hundred people with a black Pentecostal worship style has enlivened his mostly white congregation. “The ‘amens’ and the ‘right ons’ pull something out of you when you preach,” Lavanhar told the Tulsa World. “There’s a lot of laughter and tears. We’ve never been so free in worship.”

For those unfamiliar with the back-story here, Pearson (educated at Oral Roberts U., and mentored by Oral Roberts himself) led the church he founded--Higher Dimensions-- which was one of the largest churches in Tulsa until he began to preach universalism, which he called the 'Gospel of Inclusion.' 19th century Universalists would certainly recognize Pearson's statement as a common position among them;

For others it may very well be that the punishment merited by their sins is greater than what they receive in this life. For those people perhaps there will be some kind of punishment after death, but we believe that it will be remedial and corrective rather than just punishment for punishment's sake. Exactly what that will be and how long it will last we don't know. Will Hell for some people last 10 minutes or 10 million years... we don't know. But this we do know; Hell will not last for eternity; it will not be endless... Don't sin. Be reunited with God now, rather than after you have put yourself (and those you love) through Hell.

His preaching that resulted in hostility and pressure from other parts of the evangelical community, leading to the teaching being labeled heresy, and the unrepentant Pearson a heretic. New Dimensions lost many members and suffered financial crises as membership fell. Eventually he and New Dimensions moved within the UCC fold.

I'd followed the story somewhat at the time and thought that was probably the end of the public story. Finding that New Dimensions has merged with All Souls in Tulsa is quite a remarkable coda. It should be fascinating to see what this means for UUism in Tulsa, just for starters.

1 comment:

kim said...

Wow. thank you for following up on this. I want to go to their service now and see what it's like.