DALLAS (BP)–After 21 years of supporting the Korean Baptist Fellowship of Texas which it helped to start, the Baptist General Convention of Texas has voted to provide funding for Korean work in Texas through individual congregations rather than through the KBFT.
The action comes after the KBFT voted at its annual convention Aug. 5 to dually align with the BGCT and the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, a newer convention strongly aligned with the Southern Baptist Convention.
Hyoung Min Kim, Korean-Asian ethnic consultant to the SBTC, said the decision to partner with the SBTC was an important one, telling Baptist Press it was made “because of the importance of the SBTC in God’s ministry in Texas.”
Following the KBFT decision, a subcommittee of the BGCT State Missions Commission discussed at length their relationship to the KBFT and reviewed the history of the relationship, the recent decision, the vision of the BGCT for the future and other pertinent factors, Charles Wade, BGCT executive director, recounted in an Aug. 27 letter to Sam K. Kang, president of the KBFT.
Wade reported that the subcommittee then submitted a recommendation to the full committee which read, “BGCT funding for Korean work in Texas will be done through individual churches rather than through the KBFT.” The change entails an estimated $40,000 in funds.
Wade noted, “While this change saddens us, it opens an opportunity for change. The vote by KBFT to dually align drastically changes our existing relationship. Now we at the BGCT must allow God to turn this otherwise painful situation into an opportunity to do His work even better than before.”
Kang told Baptist Press he is disappointed with the BGCT decision more because of the damage it has done to the relationship between the two groups than because of the loss of funds.
“Our real concern is the relationship,” Kang said. “The KBFT does not want to be split. We want to have the same relationship with the BGCT and the SBTC, but the BGCT wants us to have a relationship only with them.”
BGCT support for the KBFT has been used in evangelism conferences, church growth conferences and education for ministers and church leaders in order to assist 80-plus Korean churches in Texas, Kang said.
The Texas population includes more than 100,000 Koreans, most of whom are concentrated in the larger cities such as Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston.
At present, Kang said he does not know what effect the BGCT’s decision to defund will have on the fellowship’s ability to continue its ministries. “We are watching,” he said.
In response to the BGCT’s defunding of the KBFT, the SBTC has offered to compensate for lost funds by increasing their giving to the Korean fellowship.
“It is our intent that the Korean Baptist Fellowship of Texas be able to continue their ministry at least at its previous level,” said Jim Richards, executive director of the SBTC. “Our desire is to respond to their requests for specific projects with virtually the same funding level they have received this year.”
As news of the dual alignment decision unfolded, an advertisement sponsored by Concerned Texas Baptists appeared in the Sept. 2 issue of the Baptist Standard, the newsjournal of the BGCT.
The ad stated, “The Southern Baptist Convention of Texas does little to address the diversity issues facing our state. They do not sponsor fellowship meetings or the Hispanic Convention. Only the BGCT recognizes the implications of our changing demographic makeup.”
The Concerned Texas Baptists went on to say, “We believe in the Associational Ministries so much that we are pleased to endorse these words with our names. We are weary of SBC leaders recommending that you decrease support to these programs when our state is growing and needs your help the most.”
Ethnic church planting figures for the SBTC indicate that since the SBTC’s inception in 1998, 157 new church starts in Texas have been plants, of which 56 percent are non-Anglo. Fifty-two were Hispanic, 26 were African American, six were Korean and four were other Asian including Indonesian and Chinese.
“The largest one single line item in the budget is new church plants,” Richards told those gathered at the Korean convention after the dual alignment vote. “Our commitment is to put the money where your heart is.”