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BGCT responds to HBU autonomy by withholding $1.5 million funds

HOUSTON (BP)–The Baptist General Convention of Texas Executive Board voted May 23 to withhold $1.5 million in funding for Houston Baptist University in response to a declaration of autonomy declared by the university’s board of trustees.

Sharon Saunders, associate vice president for public relations at HBU, confirmed the BGCT’s action. Texas Baptist leaders said the funds will be placed in escrow and a study committee will be formed to investigate the university’s decision to create a self-perpetuating board.

Saunders said the BGCT’s funding represents approximately five percent of the university’s budget. “This will not have an impact on the day to day operations of the university at all,” Saunders said. “We will continue to participate with the convention and look forward to a dialogue with convention leaders.”

“We will be ready to visit with them at their pleasure,” Saunders added.

Saunders said funds designated for ministerial-tuition grants and payments to faculty/staff doctoral loan programs would not be affected by the escrowed money.

The BGCT followed the same procedures when Baylor University declared its autonomy in 1990.

The latest action comes more than one week after the 33-member board of trustees voted May 16 to declare their autonomy from the BGCT in an effort to stop the removal of some trustees who attended churches that “did not meet the threshold requirements of being a BGCT cooperating church.”

HBU president E.D. Hodo emphasized that the university would continue to cooperate with the BGCT. Under the charter changes approved May 16, the state convention would appoint nine board members and the board was expanded to 36 members. Previously, the convention appointed all trustees.

Hodo said if the board had not taken action at least six trustees would have been ousted from the university.

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  • Todd Starnes