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BGCT leaders declare their sense of belonging in CBF

ATLANTA (BP)–In the aftermath of the decision last year by the Baptist General Convention of Texas to defund the six seminaries and the ethics commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, BGCT leaders maintained that they should not be lumped together with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. But, key BGCT leaders are in Atlanta for the CBF General Assembly, and publicly stating their sense of belonging with the moderate Baptist splinter group.

Marv Knox, editor of the Texas Baptist Standard newspaper, served as master of ceremonies for the June 28 meeting on the future of the CBF for the CBF auxiliary group, the Whitsitt Historical Society.

“I was at another meeting in New Orleans a few weeks ago,” Knox said. “I see fewer and fewer people at those meetings that I know, and even fewer that I like. I saw more before I got off the elevator here than I did the entire time in New Orleans.”

Only weeks ago, Knox criticized conservative Southern Baptist Tammi Ledbetter for an alleged lack of journalistic objectivity in her coverage of BGCT meetings. Because Ledbetter’s husband Gary serves as communications director for the conservative Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, Knox editorialized that having Ledbetter cover the BGCT was akin to assigning Hillary Rodham Clinton to cover the Republican National Convention.

Knox’s panel on the history and future of the CBF included Charles Wade, executive director of the BGCT, whom Knox clarified is “not my boss.” Wade served on the first CBF Coordinating Council and was co-chair of the CBF General Assembly Steering Committee in 1992.

“One of the most difficult things that we’ve had to deal with in our movement is an old system that is not nearly old enough,” Wade said, when asked about significant developments in the history of CBF.

Pointing to what he identified as historic Baptist principles, Wade said, “We need to stay in touch with who we are, and we can’t be in control of how popular those views are.”

Reflecting on the history of the CBF since its inception in 1991, Wade said, “I have found here a deep sense of belonging. I treasure the sense of belonging we experienced then and now.”

Wade said that CBF members provide for each other “an affirmation that we are not totally crazy.”

Of the freedoms represented in the history of the CBF, Wade said, “All religious empires are built to keep that kind of freedom from breaking loose.”

“It’s of great help to me that Marv Knox understands that too,” he concluded.

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  • Russell D. Moore