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E.C. approves salary structure policy, refers Disney study

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Executive Committee members meeting in Nashville, Tenn., June 20 elected a new vice president for the Cooperative Program, approved a policy for examining employees’ salaries and referred a study of the Disney boycott to the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

Members also re-elected all three officers and heard from Southern Baptist Convention President Bobby Welch, who said he is interested in studying a change in the term of the SBC president from one to two years.

Executive Committee members elected Robert D. (Bob) Rodgers as the new vice president for the Cooperative Program, effective immediately. Rodgers replaces David Hankins, who left to become executive director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.

The policy regarding salaries allows Executive Committee members to see an Executive Committee employee’s salary once they fill out a form pledging confidentiality of the information in addition to stating their reason for requesting the information. The Executive Committee chairman and another officer must sign the form.

The policy, Executive Committee Chairman Rob Zinn said, “is what we have practiced for over 20 years. But it came to our attention that we had never written it down. We’re writing it down.”

It passed easily by voice vote, although not without discussion.

Two Executive Committee members — Roger Moran of Missouri and Dean Nichols of Alaska — stated their concerns about the new policy, saying it didn’t go far enough in disclosing employees’ salaries.

“Tragically, this is not, I don’t think, what we talked about,” Moran said, apparently referencing a previous conversation he had with Zinn. Moran added that he wanted an “open book policy.”

Moran then asked Zinn: “Is this what you and I talked about?”

“Yes,” Zinn responded.

“If that’s what it is,” Moran said, “then this issue is done and dead and over with. But if it’s not, then I’m convinced that it’s not going away. And personally, I want to see this issue go away.”

Zinn, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Highland, Calif., said the new policy would in fact be an “open” one for Executive Committee members.

“You’re going to have to sign a statement for each salary that you want to see, because that statement will have to go into that employee’s folder [so] that they know their salary was looked at,” Zinn said.

The policy was passed in response to a request by Nichols, pastor of First Baptist Church in Kenai, Alaska, who has been doing a study of salary structures of SBC entity employees.

“I got every entity’s salary structure that I asked for … except from this committee, the one I’m a trustee of,” Nichols said. “… It is wrong for us to take the money of Southern Baptists and then tell them it’s none of your information what these salaries are. It is wrong. It is ethically immoral to do this.”

But Executive Committee member Gary Smith called the policy “very fair.” Smith serves as pastor of Fielder Road Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas.

“A corporate entity can choose to disclose salaries in any manner it wishes to do,” Smith said. “Our church has this exact policy in place…. There has been nothing dishonest. There has been nothing unethical by anybody in the past, and this provides in the future a very ethical way to do this. For someone to say that this is unethical or immoral is a value judgment I don’t share.”

Of the more than 60 Executive Committee members present for the voice vote, it appeared that no more than five members voted against the policy.

In a similar action, the Executive Committee asked Phillip Blount & Associates, Inc., to review the pay structure of Executive Committee employees and “make appropriate recommendations based upon professional comparative studies.”

The Disney boycott referral came after several months of study.

In February, the Great Commission Council adopted a recommendation requesting the Executive Committee to consider the Disney boycott “in light of recent developments, and bring any recommendation it deems advisable to the SBC meeting in Nashville in June 2005.”

SBC bylaws require the GCC, which is composed of all SBC entity heads, to refer to the Executive Committee any problems for consideration. Executive Committee staff, officers and attorneys researched and discussed the matter before deciding that it would not be appropriate for the Executive Committee to present a motion to nullify the Disney boycott. Instead, the Executive Committee referred the motion to the ERLC.

As passed by the Executive Committee, the recommendation reads, in part, “the Executive Committee, noting changes in Disney leadership, and other potentially positive developments, as well as the recent announcements by the American Family Association that it is ending its boycott of Disney, respectfully requests that The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission evaluate the policies and products of The Disney Company and communicate to Southern Baptists its conclusions through whatever means it deemed appropriate.”

In May, the American Family Association, which led the charge against Disney over moral values beginning in the mid-1990s, announced it was ending its boycott of the company, citing new challenges in the culture wars and some positive signs at Disney, including the resignation of CEO Michael Eisner, effective this September.

“We feel after nine years of boycotting Disney we have made our point,” AFA President Tim Wildmon said.

Regarding SBC presidential term limits, Welch said he has asked Chapman to consider forming a committee to “take a … new and fresh look” at the current SBC bylaws that limit an SBC president to a one-year term. Under current rules, the president must run for office again in order to serve a second one-year term. Welch, pastor of First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Fla., said a change in term length is needed in order to give the SBC president a guaranteed two years to implement his goals.

Welch said it is “very, very hard to change everything” and to plan for a second year in office without the assurance he will get elected.

In other action the Executive Committee:

— re-elected Zinn as chairman; Bill Harrell, pastor of Abilene Baptist Church in Evans, Ga., as vice chairman; and C.J. Bordeaux Sr., senior pastor of
Hillcrest Baptist Church Monroe in North Carolina as secretary.

— passed resolutions of appreciation for LifeWay Christian Resources President James T. Draper Jr. and former Bellevue Baptist Church pastor Adrian Rogers. They also adopted a statement honoring the life and ministry of Billy Graham.

— passed for the final time a recommendation to messengers to authorize the Annuity Board to change its name to GuideStone Financial Resources.

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