DALLAS (BP)–The Baptist General Convention of Texas will not secede from the Southern Baptist Convention, despite remarks to the contrary by BGCT President Clyde Glazener, according to Charles Wade, executive director of the BGCT.
“Though there are those who would like to draw a dividing line as deep as the Grand Canyon, this is a time for redefining the relationship, not severing it,” Wade said in a prepared statement.
Wade said the recent revisions of the Baptist Faith and Message underscore the need for the BGCT to redefine its relationship with the SBC, not cut all ties or start an alternative national body.
While noting his support for the SBC, Wade also said Texas Baptists do not have to give to the SBC’s causes, including the Cooperative Program.
“Texas Baptist churches will continue to be able to give through the BGCT to support Southern Baptist programs. Likewise, churches still will be free to exclude Southern Baptist causes and channel all their missions dollars through the BGCT,” Wade added.
Glazener, president of the BGCT and pastor of Gambrell Street Baptist Church in Fort Worth raised the possibility that Texas Baptists would leave the SBC and create a new Baptist denomination in an interview published June 25 in the Dallas Morning News.
“The truth is that, for some time now, a true Baptist could not support some of the agencies in SBC life,” Glazener said.
Regardless of whether or not the BGCT leaves the convention, SBC President James Merritt said the key emphasis should be on evangelism.
“I want us to open our arms to everyone in our entire convention and reach this world for Jesus Christ,” Merritt told Baptist Press on June 26. “I would hope that all Texas Baptists would realize that we do need each other and we have a world that is lost and needs to be saved.”
Merritt continued, “This is a time for Baptists to pull together, to unite our efforts to get the gospel out.”
At issue for the BGCT is the 2000 edition of the BF&M that was overwhelmingly approved by messengers at the annual SBC meeting in Orlando, Fla.
The BF&M contains language that describes the Bible as divinely inspired as well as true and trustworthy. Many of the messengers who argued against the BF&M at the convention were associated with the BGCT, including one pastor who argued that the Bible is just a book.
The BGCT currently has two study committees analyzing its relationship with SBC seminaries and missionary-sending agencies.
In the event that the BGCT does pull out of the convention, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention said Baptists will have a home in their organization, according to Executive Director Jim Richards.
“Texas churches that want to have a strong and positive relationship with the SBC and still carry out Texas missions and ministry need to know they have a home with us,” he said. “We stand ready to minister to and facilitate churches who want to affiliate with us,” Richards said.
BGCT officials refused to be interviewed by Baptist Press and would not answer additional questions concerning the conflict between Glazener’s comments and Wade’s statement.