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BGCT Executive Board prepares for possible influx of out-of-state churches

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated.

BELTON, Texas (BP) – The Baptist General Convention of Texas Executive Board has affirmed the creation of a study group concerning out-of-state churches that want to affiliate with the BGCT’s GC2 movement.

The stated goal of GC2 is to focus Texas Baptists on the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. Since its beginning in 2020, roughly 70 out-of-state churches have opted to affiliate with the GC2 network, according to a news release from the BGCT following this week’s board meeting.

At the meeting, the board affirmed the creation of “an Executive Director’s GC2 Study Group including a new staff position to assist in exploring the issues involved in giving further structure to this ministry,” the Baptist Standard reported.

“We need to be ready to welcome churches who want to be a part of what God is doing through Texas Baptists,” BGCT Executive Director Julio Guarneri said, adding that the group should be able to give a “clear, comprehensive and compelling” vision.

“We want every Texas Baptist church, every institution that relates to us, every partner that we work with, and everyone who is considering whether they want to be part of what we’re doing to have a clear sense of who we are and what we are about,” he said.

Changes in the Southern Baptist Convention may soon lead to more churches seeking to join with Texas Baptists through GC2, Guarneri said, referencing the upcoming vote at the 2024 SBC Annual Meeting to amend the SBC Constitution with regard to women in pastoral roles.

“We need to be ready to welcome churches who want to be a part of what God is doing through Texas Baptists,” Guarneri said.

“… I think it’s time for us to get our eyes on Jesus and his mission and then let people who want to be part of that join us. …

“We are orthodox. The basic doctrines of the Christian faith are the ones we hold to. We are centrists.

“… For us statements of faith are supposed to be expressions of what we hold in common and not creedal statements that are imposed on the churches or on any convention or association.

“Doctrine is important. To agree on the basics is important. But our purpose is not doctrinal uniformity. It is to obey God’s mission in the world today.”

Churches in the SBC with women on staff who carry the title “pastor” may soon “either change their titles, change their positions or change their affiliation,” Guarneri said.

“Local church autonomy in this matter means complementarian churches do not impose their view on other churches. It also means egalitarian churches do not impose their view on other churches,” he said.

“It implies that we respect each other and that we work together. We don’t believe that the topic of women in ministry is a matter of scriptural authority. We believe it is a matter of scriptural interpretation.”

Guarneri also told the board that the North American Mission Board will no longer fund church plants in Texas that are aligned solely with the BGCT because the state convention has not officially adopted Southern Baptists’ statement of faith, the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

In a written statement to Baptist Press, NAMB President Kevin Ezell said, “I was surprised to see the statement about NAMB and disappointed it was inaccurate. NAMB has a long-standing policy of only planting churches in partnership with state conventions that have affirmed Baptist Faith and Message 2000. This is nothing new. We have had a good relationship with BGCT and nothing has changed.”

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