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Evangelist plans motion to restore N.C. to original CP giving plan

CARY, N.C. (BP)–For the second time in as many years, Ted Stone will offer a motion at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s annual meeting to abolish the convention’s multiple-giving plan and return to the historic, single option, Cooperative Program giving plan.

Stone, a trustee at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and a board of visitors member at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., said he wants the North Carolina Convention to return to one giving plan. The annual meeting will be held Nov. 14-16 in Winston-Salem.

“My agenda is to strengthen the partnership between our state convention and our national convention,” Stone, who is known among Southern Baptists for his 20-plus year evangelistic campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of drugs, told Baptist Press. “We love the Cooperative Program and want to support it vigorously.”

Since 1991, North Carolina Baptists have endorsed four optional giving plans from which churches can choose. The plans were created from dissatisfaction among some state leaders about the conservative direction of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Stone’s motion proposes a 65/35 percentage split, with the smaller percentage going to the Southern Baptist Convention. His proposal will earmark funds for the Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute not less than the total amount allotted to the smallest Baptist college in North Carolina.

Last year, a similar motion by Stone failed on a show of ballots. Stone believes the motion has a better chance to pass this year. He cited a prominent moderate pastor in the state who, upon learning of Stone’s intended motion last year, confessed that moderates in the state didn’t have the votes to defeat the motion.

“He said the only way to defeat my motion was to convince some conservatives to get on board with them. We would have won last year if conservatives had stuck together,” Stone, a member of Grace Baptist Church in Durham, N.C., said.

“This year is an election year, and conservatives in the state have their best opportunity yet to return to the giving plan that is most effective for the causes of missions and ministry here at home and through our national convention as well.”

Hoping to alleviate what he calls “intimidation by those in power,” Stone will request secret balloting for his motion this year.

“In the name of harmony, we have encouraged division and thwarted our impact of doing missions together,” he said. “As much as we love our Christian brothers and sisters who have negative attitudes toward the Southern Baptist Convention, the ‘let’s pretend’ game being played by some with the budget is doing more to harm the Lord’s work than it is to heal the breach,” he said.

Presently the Southern Baptist Convention receives 32 percent in Plan A (the original CP plan) and Plan D. The SBC receives only 10 percent under Plan B and nothing under Plan C, which instead allots 10 percent to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a group that broke away from the SBC because of disagreement with the election of conservative leaders. Plans A, B and C give 68 percent to the state convention budget, while Plan D trims the state allotment in favor of special ministries and Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute.

Despite the 32 percent allotment to the SBC from Plans A and D, last year the SBC received only 30 percent from the total dollars given through all four giving options in North Carolina.

“I’m grieved because there are some theological conservatives in positions of influence and power in our state who see fit to continue this faulty theory that it’s best for us to do the work of the Lord by getting along with everybody of every persuasion,” Stone said.

“Some of these men wear conservative hats, but they have joined with more moderate leaders in the state [to keep the four giving options in place],” Stone said. “… The CBF competes with our national denomination. Funding the CBF makes a mockery of the Cooperative Program,” he said.

Stone said another “carrot dangled” by the board of directors is in their proposed budget. Currently, he said, all giving to each plan may be considered as Cooperative Program giving. But the new budget disallows funds given to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship to be counted as Cooperative Program giving, thus potentially reducing the number of messengers a CBF-supporting church can send to the state’s annual meeting. Stone said the proposed budget doesn’t go far enough.

Under the proposed budget Plans B and C still will contribute to the Baptist World Alliance and the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, entities with which the SBC has severed all ties. Plans B and C also will support Associated Baptist Press and the Baptist Center for Ethics — both of which are CBF ministry partners — and the scholarship funds at Campbell University Divinity School in Buies Creek, N.C., and the Baptist Theological Seminary of Richmond in Richmond, Va. Both are considered CBF friendly.

“It’s time for North Carolina Baptists to recognize we’re not all on the same page,” Stone said.

“It’s time to discard the so-called ‘North Carolina way’ terminology, used as a descriptive term by those who are constant critics of our denomination to justify optional giving plans,” Stone said.

“The Cooperative Program is the best way for the Southern Baptist Convention and the state conventions to partner in missions. The optional giving plans have distorted the original purpose of the designers of this God-ordained program,” Stone said.

“It’s time for us to do missions together the historic, Southern Baptist way.”

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  • Norm Miller