WICHITA Kansas -- Rhema Ministerial Association International (RMAI) expels a pastor for his active role in the pro-life movement. Mark Holick, pastor of 300-member Spirit One Christian Center had his ordination removed this summer without explicit explanation.
For the past two years, Holick and his wife Monica had joined other Wichita pastors in protesting Dr. George Tiller's abortion clinic. The Christian pro-life group Operation Save America calls tiller the "most infamous late-term abortionist in the world¡±.
The 23,000 graduate, 13 school, ecumenical group, Rhema had repeatedly warned Holick not to visit the clinic for the threat being sued.
"They [RMAI leaders] informed me that my wife, any of our church leaders, and myself could not for any reason go to any abortion clinic ever, not even to pray," Holick, 41, said in a letter to Barry Ross, pastor of 100-member Word of Life Christian Church in Cologne, N.J.
"This is the first time I've ever been disobedient to anything they asked," the 1986 Rhema graduate said. "My feeling was I had to do this in order to obey the Word of God...I think Scripture is clear regarding what the responsibility of the church is concerning innocent blood."
He added, "They never told me specifically why...it was wrong for me if I chose to do so," continued Holick, who was dismissed by Rhema without a hearing. "I expressed to them that I have done nothing immoral, nothing unrighteous, nothing unbiblical, nothing unscriptural, nothing illegal, nothing sinful, but that if they felt that I had and pointed it out that I would gladly repent...I have made numerous requests to them for a meeting, to which they would not grant."
Rhema's Tulsa-based attorney, Tom Winters, said, "Rhema is not for abortion." Winters said he advised RMAI leaders to revoke Holick's license because his pro-life activism could cause Rhema to be "potentially sued."
"Based on my advice, they took a safe and reasonable approach to deal with this," Winters said. "I advised them that the best way to handle this situation was to sever the relationship."
Winters however, declined comment on whether RMAI has a policy against pro-life involvement in its ministerial handbook.
Ross, a 1981 Rhema graduate, considers taking out his congregation from Rhema in light of recent events. Ross believes that the Holicks have been dealt "a horrible injustice." Ross had unsuccessfully tried to reach the RMAI leaders concerning the Holicks case.
"I'm following the biblical command -- first to Rhema, second to the regional directors and third to the body of Christ," said Ross. "I've been stonewalled so far...They should own up to their decision. Why try to hide and not address it? I don't believe there is anything in our ministerial handbook or directory that tells us we can't do this [pro-life activism]. If something like abortion can't be protested, what can be protested?"
Holick commented that several women had forgone abortions at the clinics partly due to the pastors' pro-life outreach. Some of them, he claims, have also become Christians.
By Pauline J.