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CBF value statement essentially intact, reorganization plan shelved

ATLANTA (BP)–A motion to rescind the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s organizational value statement regarding homosexuality was defeated 38 to 13 by the Coordinating Council meeting in plenary session June 27 at the Omni Hotel in Atlanta. Another motion, however, changed the statement from an “organizational value” to a “personnel administrative and funding policy.”

In other action, a motion to present to the General Assembly the second phase of a reorganization plan was rescinded. The plan was referred to the CC for further review.

CBF is a de facto denomination, organized in 1991 by former Southern Baptists who are dissatisfied with the conservative leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Dixie Lea Petrey, a pastor at Shannondale Retirement Community in Knoxville, Tenn., brought the motion to rescind the statement on homosexuality. She previously presented the motion at the February CC meeting in Atlanta in order to give notice to the CC of her intent to bring it to the June meeting for consideration.

The motion passed by the CC in October 2000 reads: “As Baptist Christians, we believe that the foundation of a Christian sexual ethic is faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman and celibacy in singleness. We also believe in the love and grace of God for all people, both for those who live by this understanding of the biblical standard and those who do not. We treasure the freedom of individual conscience and the autonomy of the local church, and we also believe the congregational leaders should be persons of moral integrity whose lives exemplify the highest standards of Christian conduct and character.

“Because of this organizational value, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship does not allow for the expenditure of funds for organizations or causes that condone, advocate or affirm homosexual practice. Neither does this CBF organizational value allow for the purposeful hiring of a staff person or the sending of a missionary who is a practicing homosexual.”

Petrey said her motion was not in support of or in opposition to homosexuality, but instead a response to what she calls a redefinition of what CBF is about.

“… The action [after two week’s notice, a three-hour discussion, and a 60/40% vote] redefined the fellowship,” she read from her notes. “For a decade we have had too much respect and appreciation for one another as brothers and sisters in Christ to be wiling to cast one another as winners and losers by voting upon these matters of conscience about which we all care passionately and which we are earnestly seeking God’s will but on which we have by no means come to a consensus.”

In a lengthy discussion, other CC members took the microphone to speak to the motion.

Calling it a public relation’s nightmare for CBF if the motion is rescinded, Gary Burton, Hope Hull, Ala., said he believes no “negative fallout” has occurred and no changes in funding have resulted since the statement was issued. “I trust the leadership of CBF on this issue,” Burton said.

Carl Bell, a layman from Dallas, supported the motion. He said e-mails and letters he’s received support rescinding the motion. Another Texan, Mark Newton, pastor of Baptist Temple Baptist Church in San Antonio, and the first vice-president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, suggested the opposite.

Newton said he received different feedback.

“It would be a tragic, tragic motion to pass,” said Newton. He also said funding for CBF causes from Texas is not guaranteed and funds might be drastically reduced if the motion is rescinded.

“To approve this motion will be a tragic step for the CBF,” said Newton. He said he agreed with a CC member who earlier aired concern about the council discussing matters previously debated and already decided. “Vote against the motion and move forward,” Newton urged.

Joel Wayne, of St. Matthew Baptist Church in Fort Worth, said he objects to the wording of the statement. “The way you say something is more important than what you are saying,” said Wayne. He said if the statement was created in the first place for “appeasing people … If that is the case then we will be forgiven for that.”

Council members voted against a secret ballot and went on to defeat the motion to rescind by 38-13.

Immediately following the vote, Dean Dickens from Garland, Texas, made a motion for the moderator to appoint a five-person committee to express CBF’s “love” for those who are “disenfranchised” in “our broken society.”

The motion was defeated and another was proposed and passed by a two-thirds vote to change the wording of the “Statement of an Organization Value Regarding the Funding of Partners,” to a “CBF Personnel Administrative and Funding Policy.” A motion to refer to the statement as a “CBF National Personnel Administrative and Funding Policy” failed. The wording “organizational value” is to change only in the title itself and not in two other places in the actual statement.

Bob Webb, CC member from Columbia, Mo., opposed the motion to change the wording. “I do not think we are accomplishing something by changing words,” said Webb. “If we are making a statement about what we value … let it speak for itself.”

In other business:

— Sarah Frances Anders, past moderator and layperson from Pineville, La., gave a report as chairperson of the nominating committee. She said nominations were still needed for the coordinating council from states to include, Florida, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri.

— Gary Parker has stepped down as CBF coordinator for Baptist Life & Leadership, a position he has had since 1996. Parker will pastor First Baptist Church, Macon, Ga.

— Hired C. Thomas Newsom, currently the senior development officer at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, as the first CBF development coordinator. Newsom will remain in Texas to work out of the Dallas office. His salary is set at $95,000 plus benefits.

— Carol Ann Vaugh, CC member and layperson from Birmingham, Ala., made a motion to rotate the days of the coordinating council meetings to accommodate those who are not clergy and who have to work during the week. The motion passed without opposition after short discussion.

Business concluded Wednesday afternoon, June 27, canceling the previously scheduled June 28 morning session.

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  • Joni B. Hannigan