DALLAS (BP)–Messengers to the Baptist General Convention of Texas approved agreements between the BGCT and one of its flagship institutions and a Texas Baptist school involving changes in the number of BGCT trustees represented on their boards.
The approval of “special agreements” with Buckner Baptist Benevolences and Houston Baptist University generated no questions from messengers and were approved Oct. 29 with only scattered opposition.
Other action approved by messengers gave the BGCT Human Welfare Coordinating Board the authority to proceed with a possible association of Baptist Health System in San Antonio with CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health Care Corporation.
HBU trustees voted last year to amend the university’s charter and bylaws to allow them to elect 75 percent of future trustees, with the BGCT electing 25 percent. The BGCT has elected all HBU trustees since the school’s founding in 1960.
John Uxer, chairman of the committee that negotiated with an HBU committee, noted the agreement was a result of “lengthy and sometimes intense negotiations.”
In his report to the messengers, Uxer said HBU trustees were “unwavering in their resolution to elect 75 percent of their trustees” and would not change their minds although they “deeply desired to retain a relationship” with the BGCT — either covenantal or contractural.
The recommendation of the special agreement acknowledges the new trustee ratio and ensures HBU will maintain a “unique affiliation with the BGCT by not affiliating or establishing a formal relationship with other denominations, conventions, or religious entities.”
Buckner Baptist Benevolences, a Dallas-based institution since 1879, also sought a change in its charter to reflect a new trustee ratio. The BGCT will now elect one-third of Buckner trustees and Buckner will elect two-thirds.
Bob Hart, chairman of the BGCT’s Human Welfare Coordinating Board, said in his report to messengers that Buckner had expressed concern that “a single entity elects the trustees.” He said the change will allow Buckner’s board to become more diverse.
Hart also presented the report regarding the alliance of Baptist Health System with CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System.
Citing concerns over “economic and market conditions,” he said the institution has “acted responsibly” but is unlikely to be able to stand alone without a change. The new 2002 budget indicates Baptist Health System will receive .56% of the BGCT’s Cooperative Program Budget, or $267,500.00 — compared to .60% of the 2001 budget at $315,000.00 The recommendation allows Baptist Health System to amend and restate its articles of incorporation and bylaws as “necessary and appropriate” in order to create an association or work out an agreement.
Before the vote on the recommendation was approved, Bill Fowler, a messenger from First Baptist Church, Pleasantown, expressed concern over what he said has been a 40 percent reduction in the number of chaplains in the San Antonio area. He asked if a new partnership would “put us in a position to recover and restore” chaplain ministries.
Keith Bruce, coordinator of BGCT’s institutional ministries section, told messengers there is “a very strong commitment to pastor care” among those negotiating a possible association between BHS and CHRISTUS. Pastoral care and education of chaplains will be a “high priority in potential of a merged operation,” Bruce said.
Another group affiliated with the BGCT — Texas Baptist Men — also voted to approve a change in its constitution and bylaws. Meeting Oct. 29 in Dallas, the board of directors approved amendments expanding the organization’s base of membership and service.
The move will allow men from Baptist churches in Texas not affiliated with the BGCT to become eligible for membership, including men in churches affiliated with the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention, a three-year-old convention which has been vocally supportive of the leadership in the Southern Baptist Convention and its missions agencies and seminaries. Other Texas churches that might become involved in Texas Baptist Men are those affiliated with Missionary Baptist Associations or with historically African American groups such as the National Baptist Convention.
In other action, BGCT messengers also approved a name change for Texas Baptist Children’s Home to “Texas Baptist Children’s Home and Family Services.”
The BGCT’s 23 affiliated institutions were represented during an evening session Oct. 29 at the Dallas Convention Center. Adoptive and maternity services, education ministry, elder care, chaplaincy, child and family services, healthcare and others minister directly to about 2 million people a year, said Keith Bruce, coordinator of institutional ministries.
Bruce joined Texas Baptists to stand and applaud the 23 institution presidents and their spouses after touting the leaders as “personally committed to Christ and totally dedicated to making the ministry they lead the presence of Jesus in the lives that are touched.”