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Executive Committee approves measure giving NOBTS funding stability from enrollment calculation while recovering from Katrina

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, Sept. 20, approved a three-year freeze in the calculation of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s enrollment, allowing NOBTS’ 2003-04 enrollment figures to apply to Cooperative Program funding formulas for the next three budget years.

The freeze will apply to the 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09 budget years and will allow the seminary to recover from any loss in enrollment from Hurricane Katrina. The campus was badly flooded and suffered several million dollars in damages and its offices have been moved temporarily to Decatur, Ga., near Atlanta.

Southern Baptists’ six seminaries receive different levels of funding based on a rolling three-year average of their enrollment. The enrollment numbers are based on a formula known as “full-time equivalent” (FTE) enrollment. For 2003-04 New Orleans Seminary had 1,823 students based on the FTE formula.

The Council of Seminary Presidents recommended the freeze in NOBTS’ enrollment calculation to the Executive Committee.

“We feel like what we need to preserve is a stable financial platform for New Orleans to be able to make decisions about the future,” R. Albert Mohler Jr., chairman of the Council of Seminary Presidents, told Executive Committee members.

Because the FTE formula uses a rolling average, the freeze effectively will impact the seminary for five years, not three. For example, in the budget year immediately following the three-year freeze, two of the “frozen” years will be included in the FTE formula. Likewise, the next year, one of the “frozen” years will be included. After that the formula returns to normal.

In other action during its Sept. 19-20 meeting in Nashville, Tenn., the Executive Committee approved Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s acquisition of a controlling interest in a corporation to be known as Southwestern Seminary Foundation, formerly the Harold E. Riley Southwestern Foundation.

In addressing motions referred from the SBC annual meeting in Nashville, the Executive Committee:

— declined a recommendation to change SBC Bylaw 20 to allow resolutions to be introduced during the afternoon session of the first day of the annual meeting. Currently, the bylaw stipulates that proposed resolutions may be submitted to the Resolutions Committee from April 15 to no later than 15 days prior to the annual meeting. Opening up the introduction of resolutions on the first day of the annual meeting, the Executive Committee stated Sept. 20, “would hinder thoughtful deliberation by the Resolutions Committee,” which under such an amendment would have to deliberate and report back in less than 24 hours.

— recommended an amendment to SBC Bylaw 26 C to state: “The last one-third of the time allotted for consideration of every entity report before the Convention shall be reserved for discussion from the floor.” The action clarifies that reports are to precede question and answer segments in each entity report.

— declined a recommendation to require at least one woman on every SBC committee. The Executive Committee noted that the SBC Bylaws “do not preclude trustee or committee service by women” and that “women regularly are appointed and elected to virtually all Convention committees and entity boards.” The Executive Committee response added that it “respectfully declines to amend the SBC Bylaws to depart from the long-established and well-accepted selection process for service by Southern Baptists who are well qualified, without regard to their age, gender, or ethnicity.”

— declined a recommendation that the SBC not schedule the annual meeting during the week following Father’s Day, noting in part that “defining a specific week for the Convention could reduce the availability of facilities to consider in the site selection process.” But the Executive Committee added that “consideration will be given to avoiding the week following Father’s Day in the future selection of sites, if possible.”

— recommended that the North American Mission Board and International Mission Board “jointly study the possibility of recognizing the Southern Baptist Messianic Fellowship as an evangelistic mission to Jewish people in the United States and throughout the world.”

James T. Draper, outgoing president of LifeWay Christian Resources, presented a check for a $541,206.81 offering from students at various LifeWay Christian Resources summer camps for outreach via the North American Mission Board. The offering was collected from this summer’s 84,357 participants in Centrifuge, M-Fuge, X-Fuge, Crosspoint, Centri-Kid and Centri-Break camps. The offering alternates each year between NAMB and the International projects; last year, LifeWay campers gave $706,401 to be used in IMB outreach.

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