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CA Baptists assess affiliation process

FRESNO, Calif. (BP) — Messengers to the 2014 California Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting weighed in on several issues including motions regarding church affiliation, a 2015 proposed budget and Cooperative Program objective, and amendments to the CSBC Constitution and Bylaws.

During the 74th annual meeting, held at Clovis Hills Community Church in Clovis Oct. 21-22, a number of motions related to church affiliation and the process for churches being admitted to CSBC were introduced.

Mike Cook, a messenger from Iglesia Bautista Familia de Dios, Lompoc, moved that CSBC rescind immediately the affiliation of Central Coast Church, Inc., Orcutt because of non-SBC beliefs, not being in agreement with The Baptist Faith and Message 2000 and God’s revealed Word.

J.T. Reed, pastor of First Baptist Church in Fair Oaks, moved to refer the motion to the CSBC Executive Board to take action and report back to the Convention. The vote was too close to call by raised ballots. A ballot vote was taken and the motion to refer failed by a vote of 160, 50.6 percent, to 156, 49.4 percent.

During discussion of the motion to rescind affiliation, accusations arose of deception on the part of a new church start which merged with an existing CSBC congregation to form Central Coast Church. Mike Stewart, a member of Foothill Church in Los Altos and director of missions for Central Coast Baptist Association, told the body the association had approached the CSBC Executive Board about taking action, but the Board refused.

Montia Setzler, pastor of Magnolia Church in Riverside and chairman of the CSBC Executive Board, told messengers the Executive Board did not act, “because we didn’t hear both sides of the story” — only from the association. He also noted, “to make this decision at this Convention without due process, creates a very dangerous precedent for us.”

The motion to rescind affiliation failed by a ballot vote of 152, or 61.5 percent, voting no and 93, or 37.7 percent, voting yes.

Amid the discussion, a challenge to seat messengers from Central Coast Church was submitted. In a split decision, the credentials committee recommended messengers from the church be seated. Messengers voted in favor of the recommendation and seated the church.

Another motion related to Central Coast Church was introduced by Steve Zahare, pastor of Park Victoria Baptist Church in Milpitas, which calls for a special meeting before Jan. 1, 2015 of the (CSBC) executive committee to discuss, make a decision and report as to whether Central Coast Church should be removed from CSBC. The motion passed.

A CSBC Bylaws amendment related to the affiliation process was made by Stewart and called for the CSBC Committee on Resolutions, Credentials and Membership “to confer to make decisions regarding membership status of churches wishing to affiliate with the Convention, recommending actions to the Executive Board or Convention.” The amendment struck the words “as needed” related to the committee’s on membership status. The amendment was approved.

Stewart also made a motion calling on the Committee on Resolutions, Credentials and Membership to “propose a clear and open review process so that all members of CSBC cooperating churches may review online pending affiliation applications.” The motion also called for the committee to “provide a clear and open process to hear and review any concerns from CSBC churches, associations and SBC partners.”

The motion which passed also called for the proposed affiliation process to be presented to messengers at the 2015 annual meeting for consideration.

Messengers approved a $15.87 million budget for 2015 — $551,452, or 3.6 percent, more than the 2014 budget. Included in the 2015 spending plan is a Cooperative Program objective of $6.8 million for 2015. That is a 4.7 percent decrease over the 2014 objective of $7.14 million.

Background information for the budget explained the increase is primarily from general reserve funds of nearly $325,000 to provide for 100 percent of the resources offered by the North American Mission Board in the 2015 jointly funded budget.

CSBC does not include “shared or preferred” items in its budget. If the $6.8 million in CP gifts is realized, the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee will receive $2,278,000, or 33.5 percent of CP receipts. This is a one-half percent increase over the 2014 allocation. CSBC is on track to increase by one-half percent each year until the SBC portion is 35 percent. At that time, the percentage will be reevaluated.

CSBC’s portion of CP receipts for California mission causes is $4,114,000, or 60.5 percent of receipts. That is a half percent decrease over the 2014 allocation. Other allocations in the budget for California Baptist Foundation and California Baptist University remain unchanged at 1 percent and 5 percent, respectively.

Officers elected to serve for 2015 include Randy Bennett, a member of Daybreak Baptist Church in Bakersfield and director of missions for Kern County Southern Baptist Association, president; DD Alexander, pastor of Holy Tabernacle of God Baptist Church in Inglewood, vice president; and Hector Jimenez, a member of Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield, music director. Beth Ketcheside, CSBC executive assistant, was elected recording secretary.

With Mike Nolen, pastor of Southwinds Church in Tracy, having served two, one-year terms as president, the maximum allowed under the CSBC Constitution, four nominees were presented to fill the position. They were Alexander; Bennett; Joe Slunaker, associate pastor of Hemet Valley Baptist Church in Hemet, who served as vice president for 2014; and Don Fugate, pastor of Foxworthy Baptist Church in San Jose.

Alexander and Bennett received the most votes and met in a run-off in which Bennett won with 193, or 63.5 percent, of votes cast compared to Alexander with 110, or 36.5 percent. Alexander was later nominated by Bennett to serve as vice president and was elected by acclamation. Jimenez was recommended by the Committee on Convention Operations and also was elected by acclamation.

A constitutional amendment which would have given an equal number of messengers to all CSBC congregations, regardless of size or Cooperative Program participation, failed. The amendment was supported by 158, or 50.6 percent, of the 312 ballots cast, but fell short of the required supermajority (two-thirds). The amendment was proposed in 2013 by David Wilson, pastor of Grant Avenue Baptist Church in Redondo Beach, to allow 10 messengers per church.

Messengers also approved a bylaw amendment from the Executive Board to reduce the size of the California Baptist Foundation board of directors from 21 to 16. When asked how the reduction would be realized, Philip W. Kell, CBF president, said it would be achieved through attrition.

A resolution expressing gratitude to the city of Clovis, Mid-Valley Southern Baptist Association and the host church, Clovis Hills, was approved by messengers.

This year’s annual meeting registered 429 messengers and 146 guests from the more than 2,200 CSBC congregations with about a half-million members.

The 2015 annual meeting will be held at Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield, Oct. 27-28, and will celebrate the Convention’s 75th anniversary. CSBC was started in Shafter (near Bakersfield) in 1940, with 13 churches.

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