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Following a November statement outlining the "Non-Negotiables of Young Life's Gospel Proclamation," Young Life (YL) has fired or accepted resignations from all 10 staff members in the Durham-Chapel Hill area of North Carolina.

In a letter to staff that accompanied the Non-Negotiables, YL president Denny Rydberg said senior leadership was concerned that the mission "not drift from our biblical and historical roots." YL, an evangelistic ministry that mostly targets high school students, works in all 50 states and in more than 50 countries. It has more than 3,000 staff members and 27,000 volunteers.

"We're an oral history organization, and one of the remarkable things about Young Life is how consistent our proclamation and personality around the country and really around the world is," said Terry Swenson, YL vice president of communications. "As we grow, the need for a way to talk with one another about this important issue has come up. And the paper really is an attempt to guide and train and help folks prepare as they proclaim the gospel."

The Non-Negotiables statement came out after a paper circulated last summer by Jeff McSwain. The former YL area director for Durham and Chapel Hill, McSwain was the highest-ranking staff member fired. In his paper, McSwain took issue with YL "sin talks," where leaders explain that "God is holy and pure and we are impure." He said talks that include statements such as, "We've broken the law and someone needs to pay," can sound more Unitarian than Trinitarian by drawing a sharp contrast between the holy God and incarnated Son who "actually became sin." McSwain, one of YL's most experienced area directors, pointed to YL's trademark contact strategy of incarnational friendship and said ensuing ...

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February 2008

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