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Executive Committee declines to recognize new Missouri convention

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee will not recognize the newly formed Baptist General Convention of Missouri as a collecting agent for the SBC, following action taken at their Sept. 17 meeting.

Executive Committee members also declined to recommend limiting the number of state conventions recognized by the national body. Their decision was in response to a motion referred to the EC from the annual meeting of the SBC in St. Louis.

Bruce Prescott, a messenger from FBC Norman, Okla. and a supporter of limiting the number of state conventions, was allowed the opportunity to speak on behalf of the issue before EC members voted.

Prescott claimed the rationale given in the administrative committee meeting for adopting the recommendation appeared “to contradict Dr. (Morris H.) Chapman’s statement in a Jan. 25, 2002 letter to Jim Hill.” Jim Hill is the former executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention. Prescott cited an excerpt from that letter where Chapman wrote, “A single state Baptist convention per area is the ideal and best serves the interests of the Southern Baptist Convention.”

Prescott did not note that this was one of four underlying assumptions that Chapman outlined as background for measuring how the formation of the new convention in Missouri compared to historic practices and the best interests of the SBC. Nor did Prescott acknowledge how Chapman addressed this assumption in the rationale that followed in the letter. Chapman’s letter to Jim Hill can be read in its entirety at Baptist2Baptist.net.

Prescott also said it “appears contradictory to say in Missouri that one state convention per state is in the best interest of the convention and then in Texas and Virginia to deny that recognizing and accepting gifts from only one convention in each state is in the best interest of the Southern Baptist Convention.”

The Baptist General Convention of Missouri was recently organized by moderates and liberals in protest of the conservative and pro-SBC Missouri Baptist Convention. Other states with competing conventions include Texas and Virginia.

Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the SBC Executive Committee, explained the convention’s stance following Prescott’s remarks.

“Without trying to refute the argument, let me just simply explain it this way. Southern Baptists have taken no action to instruct its Executive Committee, nor has the Executive Committee recommended to the Southern Baptist Convention that any relationship with a state convention be severed and terminated,” Chapman said. “It is our responsibility until the Southern Baptist Convention should choose to do otherwise, to do what we can to partner as best we know how with our state conventions. That doesn’t mean that there is total agreement, but it does mean that in the case of several of our long-standing partnerships these state conventions continue to give faithfully through the Cooperative Program. And we have sought to honor that effort to give and to support Southern Baptist missions.”

“It is the business of the state whether it has one or 20 state conventions. It is the business of the Southern Baptist Convention in each instance to have the prerogative to determine how they’re going to relate to any state conventions or any number of state conventions,” Chapman added.

In other Executive Committee action, an ad hoc committee concerning the Baptist World Alliance was reactivated. The committee will continue to evaluate the relationship between the SBC and BWA on a regular basis. Serving on the committee are Chapman, James T. Draper, president of LifeWay Christian Resources of the SBC; Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board; Paige Patterson, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; Tom Elliff, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church Del City, Okla.; Gary Smith, chairman of the SBC Executive Committee; Judge Paul Pressler; and Bob Sorrell, of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn.

— Elected Jerry Tidwell, of Florida, as a trustee to the Southern Baptist Foundation.

— Approved a new publication for Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary titled, Midwestern Journal of Theology. The Executive Committee also authorized the seminary’s request for a fund raising event called The Vision: Growing Disciples Today to Make Disciples Tomorrow.

— Received a report from the North American Mission Board to request the restructuring of FamilyNet Television from a non-profit to a for-profit subsidiary. Members met in executive session and will act on the report at a later date.

— Elected Chris Hall, pastor of the First Baptist Church, LeLand, N.C. to serve as a member of the 2002-03 SBC Committee on Nominations.
(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: PRAYING TOGETHER, ACTION TAKEN and BILLY KIM.

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  • Todd Starnes