Southern Baptist Convention messengers dealt with several items
of business last week, voting to expand the ministry of their Annuity Board
and declining to form a committee to work toward reconciliation in the convention.
Messengers approved 10 recommendations from the SBC Exectuive Committee and
two motions from the floor.
Southern Baptist Convention messengers dealt with
several items of business last week, voting to expand the ministry of their
Annuity Board and declining to form a committee to work toward reconciliation
in the convention.
Messengers approved 10 recommendations from the SBC
Exectuive Committee and two motions from the floor.
Executive Committee recommendations were approved
without change during the annual meeting. A key change regarding the SBCAnnuity
Board drew no discussion.
The approved change allows the board to offer individual
and institutional investment plans to Southern Baptists.
Some state foundation leaders have complained about
the change, insisting it duplicates services and confuses persons.
However, messengers did not deliberate at all about
the issue, approving it easily.
Under the change, the Annuity Board is to form working
relationships with each state foundation. However, if such a relationship cannot
be established, they are empowered to return to the Executive Committee for
authorization to work within the particular state without such an agreement.
In other action, messengers handled two motions from
the floor, voting against the reconciliation committee and agreeing to send
a letter to Laura Schlessinger, affirming her stand against homosexuality.
Paddy OConnor of Brooksville, Fla., offered
the motion on the reconciliation committee, noting the convention is fractured
and suffered. He asked that a com-mittee be appointed to work towards reconciliation
of various groups within the denomination, maintaining that the cohesiveness
of Southern Baptist work is being tested.
“Surely it is the will of Christ that good will
exist between these … (various) groups,” OConnor said. “Cooperation
must be better than coercion (and) competition.”
Fragmentation has grown worse within the convention,
OConnor warned. “When believers … are at odds with one another,
we cannot be good witnesses. … The most Christlike thing we can do is diligently
search for and work towards reconciliation with believing Baptists.”
The world will be the loser if Southern Baptists
do not do so, OConnor added. Unless Southern Baptists can reconcile among
themselves, they have no message of reconciliation to the world, he said.
Convention Executive Committee President Morris Chapman
responded, noting no one desires competition or confusion.
Chapman added that Southern Baptists are setting
all-time highs in offerings, have more missionaries serving and have more churches
planted than ever in recent years.
“I think God would have to focus on those things
we seek to do together for his glory, …” he said in asking messengers
to vote against OConnors motion.
“I believe that this is not the time to stop
and dig a trench. This is the time for Southern Baptists to move like a mighty
army upon this world. And I believe the greatest reconcialition will come as
Southern Baptist put their minds and hearts shoulder to shoulder and witness
for Jesus Christ.”
A messenger suggested that if the convention works
like his church, another committee will hurt things. He also noted that while
reconciliation work is good, it must be remembered that some things are not
negotiable, such as stands on the sanctity of life, inerrancy and homosexuality.
T.C. Pinckney of Virginia added: “The Southern
Baptist tent should be just as broad as Gods Word, no broader, no narrower.
Scripture, not cooperation, is primary. Let every Southern Baptist follow Gods
Word, and cooperation will follow, like day after night.”
In a vote, the motion failed easily.
In a second action, messengers agreed to ask the
convention president to send a letter of affirmation to Schlessinger.
The original motion offered broad affirmation of
the talk-show host. But a messenger asked to limit the letter to the issue of
homosexuality, noting that Schlessinger is Jewish and not Christ-centered in
her viewpoints. “I think it is too broad a brush to approve all her stands,
…” he said. “I no longer listen to her or trust her.”
The motion was approved easily.
In other action, messengers approved a $159.5 million
Cooperative Program budget for 2000-2001, as well as several changes to convention
Meanwhile, several messenger motions were referred
to convention entities for consideration. They include motions:
Restricting solicitation of non-Cooperative
Program funds from local churches.
Endorsing ministries to homosexuals.
Requesting the PowerLine radio program
stop using secular music and begin presenting the gospel.
Evaluating whether materials sold at
LifeWay Christian Stores are appropriate.
Revising policies to allow the appointment
of some divorced persons as Southern Baptist missionaries.
Requesting that denominational employees
not be required to sign the Baptist Faith and Message statement.
Authorizing, instructing and commissioning
the SBC Executive Committee to study the expenditure of Cooperative Program
funds or assets “as pertains to any SBC-supported employees, entitys
or agencys cooperative involvements with organizations which include participating
individuals, groups, denominations or conventions whose professed beliefs are
in conflict with or could risk possible compromise of the historic distinctives
or the unique witness of Southern Baptists to the world. “
The motion was made by Jerry Moser, pastor at Bayou
DuLarge Baptist Church in Theriot. It is similar to a motion he made last year,
which was referred to the Executive Committee. This years motion is different
in that it cites SBC Bylaw 18, which gives the Executive Committee responsiblity
for overseeing use of Cooperative Program