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Consensus nominee elected as La. convention president

ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–In an action that many longtime Louisiana Baptists described as “unprecedented,” messengers to the 150th Louisiana Baptist Convention elected Bob Anderson of Baton Rouge as president by acclamation during the group’s annual meeting, Nov. 10-11 at the Alexandria Riverfront Center.
The action was a departure from the fiercely contested presidential elections of recent years and comes after months of dialogue between leaders of both sides of the conflict in the state convention.
“Think about a peace-driven convention,” Anderson told messengers on Tuesday evening. “We’re going to have to (achieve peace) by reaching out to one another emphasizing that the Jesus in you loves the Jesus in me.
“We must stop labeling one another and start finding ways to love one another.”
Anderson said after his election that to accomplish that goal “it’s going to take two things.”
“A common goal that we can all gather around, set so well by Dr. (Dean) Doster (convention executive director) Monday evening, to win our state for Christ. The second thing is a compassionate courage that we can stand up and say as brothers and sisters, ‘I’m sorry if I have caused you any pain.'”
The retired pastor of Parkview Baptist Church in Baton Rouge is presently serving as founder/president of Antioch Affection Ministries, a ministry aimed at helping ministers and churches in conflict.
Anderson was nominated by both Joe Nesom, pastor of First Baptist Church, Jackson, and John Alley, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, Alexandria.
The joint nomination followed endorsements by Louisiana Baptists Speaking the Truth in Love and Friends of Louisiana College. The two groups, which have squared off in many convention battles in recent years, both pledged their support for Anderson at an August announcement of his candidacy.
Alley told messengers the process of arriving at a consensus nominee actually began after last year’s convention meeting. Stan Allcorn, pastor of First Baptist Church, DeRidder, and Leon Hyatt, president of Louisiana Baptists Speaking the Truth in Love, called together leaders from both the moderate and conservative camps in hopes of achieving peace.
Many meetings followed, “some meetings not enjoyable, but meetings that came to where our hearts were on the table.”
At one point, leaders, frustrated by a lack of progress, were about to give up hope of reaching a consensus. But, in what Alley described at the time as “an absolute miracle,” the peace group and both factions united behind Anderson.
It was clear Anderson’s unanimous election was about more than the election of a president.
“Bob Anderson’s candidacy for president of the Louisiana Baptist Convention,” Nesom told messengers in his nomination of Anderson, “is itself a symbol of unity and a hope for a unified commitment to the advancement of the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ in the coming years.”
Alley agreed, urging messengers to join the peace group “in taking a step towards unity, peace and purpose in winning our state to Jesus Christ.”
Anderson said in an interview with the Baptist Message state newsjournal that he fully realizes the task to which he has been called. “I know that I have been chosen to move the convention toward a peace-driven convention and I will not relinquish that call and responsibility.”
Anderson said the convention action represented a move toward peace, but recognized there was still work to be done. “It’s a marathon not a 100-yard dash.”
As evidence of the fragile peace, messengers were divided on votes regarding nominees for Louisiana College’s board of trustees and the first vice president of the convention.
In the trustee vote, messengers approved nominees submitted in September by college President Rory Lee at the request of the nominating committee, encompassing three conservatives and three moderates.
In the first vice president vote, Thomas Calhoun, a Mansfield businessman and layman at First Baptist Church, defeated R.E. Clark, pastor of South Lake Charles Baptist Church, by only six votes, 773-767.
In the election for second vice president, Jerry Price, pastor of Greenacres Baptist Church, Bastrop, was elected by acclamation after Roger Sullivan, pastor of East Leesville Baptist Church, withdrew his nomination.
Sullivan’s withdrawal followed questions as to whether he could be elected as a convention officer and maintain his post as a trustee of Louisiana College. A recent amendment to the bylaws of the convention states that “a person shall not serve in more than one elected or appointed position at a time.”
Also during the meeting, messengers approved a $19 million Cooperative Program budget for the state convention for 1998. The budget total represents a 5.6 percent increase from last year’s budget. State leaders noted that budget receipts for this year are more than $500,000 above budget requirements. As it has for many years, the state convention budget calls for 35 percent of receipts to be sent to the Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program.
Messengers approved a host of resolutions without debate, including:
— support for the Covenant Marriage Act passed recently by the Louisiana legislature.
— opposition to all abortions, particularly partial-birth procedures.
— a call for the state government to address the problem of alcohol abuse and underage drinking in the state.
— opposition to prenatal genetic testing and cloning of human embryos for the purpose of experimentation.
— affirmation of churches which currently have prevention and ministry programs regarding HIV/AIDS, calling on other churches to begin such programs using resources which “call for repentance from so-called ‘risky behavior’ that … may contribute” to the development of the disease.
— support for creating an Advisory Committee on Religious Freedom and Christian Persecution in the United States.
— applauding legislators who voted against the expansion of gambling in the most recent legislative session and renewing a call to vote against such action.
— support for the “spirit and the intent” of the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act which was struck down by the Supreme Court this summer and voicing support and encouragement for the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
— a call to churches to establish a moral and social concerns advisory committees to lead Baptists in standing as salt and light of the world.
Messengers also approved a change in venue for next year’s annual meeting in Baton Rouge Nov. 9-10. Originally scheduled for Florida Boulevard Baptist Church — which can seat only 1,300 — the committee on arrangements recommended that the meeting be moved to the Maravich Assembly Center on the Louisiana State University campus.
Also, Mark Brister, pastor of Broadmoor Baptist Church in Shreveport was named to give the convention sermon. Carroll Marr, pastor of Zoar Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, was named as an alternate. Russ Porter of First Baptist Church of Baton Rouge was named as music leader for the event and Mark Hebert of Zoar Baptist Church in Baton Rouge was named as music leader alternate.

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  • Mike Trice