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5/27/97 Indiana proposal calls for racially inclusive board

MARTINSVILLE, Ind. (BP)–By unanimous vote, the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana executive board approved a bylaw change to make its own composition racially inclusive.
If approved by the state convention in October, the change will add “a person from a racial or language minority” from each of three zones in the state. Bylaw changes scheduled for final action at the 1997 convention provide for the executive board to be nominated from three demographic zones rather than the various Baptist associations across the state.
The Indiana executive board acted on the proposed change during its May 8-9 meeting at Highland Lakes Baptist Camp, Martinsville. The change of the convention’s Bylaw IX originated in the board’s administrative committee.
Ron Yarbrough, administrative committee member and motion initiator, said to the executive board, “The time has come for us to reach out and be more inclusive in our representation. We have much to learn from our fellow Christians who are different in color and/or language. The only way to accomplish this is to enlarge the board.”
Yarbrough added, “This is a growing experience for me personally. We must have more than multiracial congregations to reach Indiana for Christ. We must respect the diversity of people groups and grant them representation on the board.”
John Rogers, SCBI president, agreed with Yarbrough and added, “One-seventh of our constituted churches are non-Anglo. I heard the heart of the people. The best thing for us is to just be inclusive, but in our own history we know we had to mandate for inclusion of women and laymen. Now we are at the time in our history when we must further acknowledge our diversity in writing to include representation from our racial and language congregations.
“I’m excited about this. Our national convention may pass a resolution on racial reconciliation, but we want to be living reconciliation in Indiana,” Rogers continued. “This decision of 100 percent of our board is part of our goal to reach all people in Indiana with the gospel of our Lord Jesus.”
The discussion on the amendment focused on the perception that quotas seem binding. However, it was finally agreed that Christian duty compels God’s people to be inclusive, but due to the nature of the nominating committee process, it is very difficult to give directives except through bylaw parameters.
The revised bylaw allows for six ministers, two laymen, two women and at least one person of ethnic origin from each of the geographic zones to represent their constituency on the SCBI executive board.
In another action, the board voted to call Roger Bear as state campus ministry coordinator. Loren Robinson, SCBI associate director of evangelism and student ministry, resigned to become a church planter in the southeastern area of metropolitan Indianapolis. Consequently, a new position was formed to coordinate the various ministries in the colleges and universities of the state. Bear will have a dual role of coordination of the state campus ministries while continuing to serve as the Baptist campus minister at Indiana State University.
The board also approved a flexible plan for associations to implement for the calling of associational directors of missions. The plan for associations which provide 51 percent of the support of the salary gives the association greater latitude in the selection process.

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  • John Yeats