Trustees of the International Mission Board have initiated an action to ask the Southern Baptist Convention to remove one of their members.
Trustees of the International Mission Board have
initiated an action to ask the Southern Baptist Convention to remove
one of their members.
The board’s chairman, Tom Hatley, issued a
three-paragraph statement Jan. 11 following a trustee vote the previous
night in executive session, or closed session, to terminate the term of
Wade Burleson, senior pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid, Okla.,
who served as president of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma
The full statement reported:
“The trustees of the International Mission Board
voted to recommend to the Southern Baptist Convention that Wade
Burleson of Oklahoma, be removed by the convention as a trustee of the
International Mission Board.
“This difficult measure was not taken without due
deliberation and exploration of other ways to handle an impasse between
Wade Burleson and the Board. In taking this action, trustees addressed
issues involving broken trust and resistance to accountability, not
Burleson’s opposition to policies recently enacted by the board.
“The trustees consider this a rare and grievous
action but one that was absolutely necessary for the board to move
forward in its duties as prescribed by the SBC.”
The mission board’s move to ask the Southern Baptist
Convention to act follows the IMB charter’s process for removing a
trustee of the entity.
Messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention will
meet June 13-14 in Greensboro, N.C. Hatley, pastor of Immanuel Baptist
Church in Rogers, Ark., has been the IMB trustee chairman since May
Messengers elected Burleson to a four-year IMB
trustee term during the SBC’s 2005 annual meeting in Nashville. He and
nine other trustees elected to four-year terms last year would be
eligible for re-nomination in 2009 for another four-year term.
Burleson was reporting on his encounters with
trustees during the board’s Jan. 9-11 meeting in Richmond, Va., via his
online weblog, or “blog,” kerussocharis.blogspot.com. A blog is a type
of Internet journal that is frequently updated with personal views
intended for public consumption.
Burleson posted entries on his blog after the
trustee action Jan. 11, and, earlier, on Monday and Tuesday of the
board meeting. Two men who also have blogs but are not IMB trustees
gave Internet reports of the meeting, too.
The impetus for the meeting reports by Burleson and
the other two men was their opposition to missionary personnel
policies, which the trustees adopted during their Nov. 14-17 meeting in
Huntsville, Ala. The policies involved believer’s baptism by immersion
and the use of a “private prayer language,” which also was described as
“glossolalia (speaking in tongues).”
Burleson, on his blog, has contended that the
policies are overly restrictive, even among some Baptists who hold to
the inerrancy of Scripture.
The afternoon of Jan. 11, Burleson released a
statement to Baptist Press expressing his dissatisfaction with the IMB
trustees’ move to dismiss him. His full statement reads as follows:
“I am greatly saddened by the action taken by the
IMB board of trustees. I have yet to be presented with specific
allegations but I am willing to respond to the particulars of these
allegations should they materialize.
“In recent days I have expressed deep concern with a
precedent set by certain IMB Board members who voted to establish IMB
missionary policies that reach beyond the guidelines of the Baptist
Faith and Message 2000.
“Secondly, I have also questioned and brought to the
attention of the full board the inappropriateness of certain IMB board
members, who in violation of IMB board guidelines, have held private
caucuses to develop and craft IMB motions and policy.
“Seeing the issue had become increasingly personal,
political and overreached into the matters of the local church, I chose
to express my concerns to a broader Baptist constituency for further
discussion and dialogue.
“At risk is the appointment of Southern Baptist
Missionaries who have a heart for the lost and value doctrinal
integrity as expressed in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.
“We must move beyond personal attacks and political
power plays. It is my desire to continue serving as a trustee of the
IMB, while working in openness and humility with fellow board members
as we uphold the integrity of the greatest missionary sending
organization in the history of the world.”
A check of SBC records shows that in recent history
there has been no action to remove a trustee of an SBC entity. (BP)