News Articles

CBF names BWA vice president as first black moderator-elect

GRAPEVINE, Texas (BP)–Baptist World Alliance Vice President Emmanuel McCall was named moderator-elect of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship during the CBF General Assembly session June 30 in Grapevine, Texas, further solidifying the relationship between the CBF and BWA.

McCall, a retired pastor from Atlanta, will serve as the organization’s first black moderator in 2006-07. He will be replaced as one of two CBF emissaries to the BWA by Elizabeth Barnes, a layperson from First Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C.

McCall is a former faculty member at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., where he established the black church studies program. He also served as director of black church relations at the Southern Baptist Home Mission Board (now the North American Mission Board). In recent years, McCall has distanced himself from Southern Baptists, even apologizing to the CBF Coordinating Council for Southern Seminary President Albert R. Mohler Jr. being given an award that bears his name.

“You should know that my loyalty is here and not there,” McCall told the CBF Coordinating Council in Birmingham, Ala., in June 2004.

The 2,380 participants at the CBF assembly in Texas adopted a budget of $16.47 million, a small portion of which will go to funding the BWA. The budget calls for the expenditure of additional resources provided by some $5.11 million in designated gifts. In all, the CBF expects to expend $21.58 million to fund its programs in 2005-06.

The designated funds, given largely by anonymous donors, provide additional funding for leadership development and global missions personnel and initiatives. The established budget provides aid to partner organizations such as Baptists Today, the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty and the Baptist Center for Ethics. The BWA is allocated $45,000 in the CBF’s 2005-06 budget.

Monies designated for the BWA in the budget do not include special offerings at the General Assembly. Hardy Clemons, former CBF moderator and vice chairman of the CBF’s BWA Task Force, announced that the organization had established a special five-year offering in honor of former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn. The offering was designated “The Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Offering for Religious Liberty and Human Rights.”

Two-thirds of the offering will be applied to CBF initiatives, with the remaining one-third going to the BWA. In the Thursday night offering, CBF participants provided more than $29,000 for the Carter offering.

The CBF “wanted to name the offering in a genetically related way that would affirm the spiritual essence of CBF,” Clemons said. “We are in no way making a political statement…. [W]e believe their entire ex-presidency has been focused with unique passion on these two issues -– religious liberty and human rights.”

In 1993, and again in 2000, after SBC messengers adopted the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, Carter and his wife publicly announced their allegiance with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Individuals do not have membership in the SBC, but churches affiliate through their friendly cooperation with and financial support of SBC causes. The Carter’s church, Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia, contributes to the SBC Cooperative Program.

Rosalynn Carter said, “As you know, religious liberty and human rights issues are at the center of our hearts and work. We continue to advocate for those who do not have the right to vote, who cannot worship as they please and who dare not act as their conscience leads.”

“We are pleased to lend our names to this offering which has the potential of affecting lives as, together, we advocate, educate and build friendships around the world,” President Carter said.

Clemons said that the offering would make up for the shortfall created when the Southern Baptist Convention withdrew from the BWA following the admission of the CBF to the world body in 2003. “When others withdraw, we engage. When others de-fund, we fund. When others back up, we step up,” Clemons said. He said that the CBF believes in “unity and diversity rather than coerced conformity.”

SBC leaders cited “a continual leftward drift” as the reason the convention wished to withdraw from the world Baptist body, rather than the admission of the CBF. SBC messengers approved the withdrawal from the BWA at their 2004 annual convention in Indianapolis. Since the SBC withdrawal from the BWA, several state Baptist conventions also have refused to provide funding or relate to the BWA.

The Alabama and Georgia Baptist conventions both declined proposals to send $30,000 each to the BWA in 2004. The Kentucky Baptist Convention last year declined a proposal to create a committee by which the convention would relate to the BWA.

Other state conventions, however, are providing support to the BWA. Earlier in the day, BWA General Secretary Denton Lotz said he is often asked if the organization is surviving. “We are making it,” Lotz said, citing the gifts of the CBF, Baptist General Association of Virginia, Baptist General Convention of Texas and individual Baptists.

Associated Baptist Press also will receive funding — some $132,000 — under the CBF’s new budget. In 2004, the CBF provided 29.7 percent of ABP’s budget. Now, however, under a proposal put before General Assembly participants by the CBF’s Partnership Study Committee, the CBF will only provide up to 25 percent of ABP’s operating budget as a partner organization.

Based on last year’s revenues, ABP will lose $21,000 in funding from CBF, according to the letter circulated to ABP supporters by board chairman Ed Vick and Executive Editor Greg Warner before the General Assembly. The letter described the original proposal from the Partnership Study Committee that called for the funding cap to be set at 20 percent of a partner’s operating budget. The letter explained that “friends of ABP voiced their concerns to CBF” about the potential loss of revenue. The cap was then raised to 25 percent.

The same Partnership Study Committee that capped funding for partner organizations also originally intended for partner organizations to “appropriately promote CBF.” The group later agreed to exempt ABP, Baptists Today and the Baptist Center for Ethics from promoting the CBF in order to maintain an “unencumbered free press.” The news organizations, however, must still disclose funding from the CBF under the guidelines established by the partnership committee.

Charles Cantrell, chair of the committee, said that the committee’s work was difficult, but that the CBF needed to establish some guidelines as to how partner organizations would be funded in future years. “I realize it is impossible to develop a report that will please everyone,” Cantrell said.

Indeed, the report did not please some participants. David Crocker of Knoxville, Tenn., said he was concerned that the report did not supply enough information about how partners would be funded and which partners would receive money.

Cantrell explained that, at present, only two CBF partners, Associated Baptist Press and the Baptist Center for Ethics, receive more than 25 percent of their operating budgets from the CBF. Those percentages, he said, would be reduced to a proposed 25 percent cap over three years.

Charles Yarbrough of Dallas was critical of the proposal, saying he believed the CBF’s 14 partners in theological education might unduly suffer. The report recommends that the schools and seminaries “share the mission of CBF to serve Christians and churches as they discover and fulfill their God-given ministry,” “encourage the core values of CBF” and offer “specific support to CBF’s strategic initiatives.”

That creates a problem, Yarbrough said, with divinity schools at non-Baptist universities, such as Brite Divinity School on the campus of Texas Christian University, the Candler School of Theology at Emory University and the Duke University Divinity School. “We are on the verge of going the wrong way. Divinity schools at non-Baptist universities will be disproportionately impacted by this report. This is not a proper response,” he said.

“Only those who do what we want done and say what we want said will get funding,” Yarbrough said, claiming that forced conformity was the problem with Southern Baptist Convention’s seminaries.

CBF’s McDade also issued a statement concerning the contested partnership report. He said the report sets forth “general policies and does not designate funding levels for any partner.”

    About the Author

  • Gregory Tomlin