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Ga. Baptists affirm SBC beliefs; Ky. Baptists create study committee

ATLANTA (BP)–About two-thirds of 3,400 messengers at the Georgia Baptist Convention approved a resolution Nov. 14 voicing “approval and appreciation” of the Baptist Faith and Message statement of beliefs adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention in June.

Meanwhile, from news reports on other state Baptist conventions:

— Kentucky Baptist Convention messengers voted Nov. 14 to establish a study committee to recommend a stance on the BFM to be considered at next year’s annual meeting, instead of taking a vote this year. And a moderate-backed nominee for convention president, retired missionary Jim McKinley, defeated conservative-backed Kevin Ezell, pastor of Louisville’s Highview Baptist Church, 1,091-978.

— Baptist General Association of Virginia messengers voted Nov. 14 to create a committee to study whether the BGAV’s approach to missions is compatible with its national mission partners, and whether Virginia Baptists are involved in deciding how the money is utilized by the national agencies. The motion made no specific reference to the SBC International Mission Board or the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

— Messengers to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina Nov. 14 re-elected a conservative, Mike Cummings of Lumberton, director of missions for Burnt Swamp Baptist Association, then swung toward two moderate-backed nominees, Asheville pastor Buddy Corbin and Raleigh pastor Larry Harper, for first and second vice president, respectively, over conservative nominees. A resolution was passed affirming Cooperative Program giving, cooperation with the SBC and local church autonomy. And a constitutional amendment to end the convention’s fraternal relationship with Wake Forest University narrowly fell short of a two-thirds majority, 2,390-1,564.

At the Georgia Baptist Convention annual meeting in Savannah, the BFM was passed on a show of ballots.

Much of the debate, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, focused on a statement not carried into the current BFM from the 1963 version, that “the criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.”

Gene Wilder of First Baptist Church in Fitzgerald was quoted as challenging, “If Jesus Christ is not the criterion for biblical interpretation, then who is? Some pastor? Some seminary professor? Some self-proclaimed biblical expert? God help us.”

Bill Harrell of Abilene Baptist Church in Augusta was quoted as countering that the 1963 statement left “a loophole … as big as a barn gate” that has been used by moderates “to interpret Scripture just about any way they want to. It’s a very dangerous thing we’ve been doing for a long time.”

In other business, Georgia messengers passed resolutions opposing partial-birth abortion; opposing the use of Georgia tax funds on sex education that does not take into account laws against fornication; and opposing fund-raising raffles in local schools.

At the Kentucky Baptist Convention in Bowling Green, attended by more than 2,000 messengers, Ezell told the Louisville Courier-Journal after falling short in the presidential vote that he believes future conservative candidates will prevail. “I’m very pleased we came so close,” Ezell said. “It’s an obvious sign the state is starting to turn.”

The newspaper reported that David Hinson, pastor of First Baptist Church, Frankfort, spoke from the convention floor to protest literature being distributed by the conservative Kentucky Baptist Laymen’s Network that included criticism of the Frankfort congregation and two other Kentucky churches that recently distanced themselves from the SBC. Among Hinson’s objections was the label “liberal.”

“I have been called ‘a thin, thin slice of the far, far left,’ but I’m as Baptist as Kentucky Fried Chicken,” he declared.

Ezell later told the Courier-Journal he was not involved in the efforts by the laymen’s group but saw nothing wrong with the literature’s criticism of the three churches and others opposed to the SBC’s direction. “If it’s fact, it’s important that Kentucky Baptists know who some of these people really are,” Ezell said.

Concerning the question of endorsing the BFM, the newspaper identified Ezell as embracing the statement as revised this year, while McKinley supported the 1963 BFM.

At the Baptist General Association of Virginia meeting in Roanoke, the motion to create a study committee of missions organizations in partnership with the BGAV passed by a show of hands without discussion. The Richmond Times-Dispatch quoted BGAV President Thomas R. McCann Jr. as saying in his opening remarks that the SBC has “grown away from us and no longer needs us. … “It is time to create something new. …” McCann also stated, “It is unreasonable for Virginia Baptists to send their dollars to any group who deliberately refuses to include us in decisions on how those dollars ought to be spent.”

From the Oct. 30-31 meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, and previously not reported in Baptist Press, was the election of officers. Clyde Glazener, pastor of Gambrell Street Baptist Church, Fort Worth, was re-elected to a second one-year term as president. Elected as first and second vice president, respectively, were Mark Newton, pastor of Baptist Temple Church, San Antonio, and Joy Fenner, who retires in February as executive director-treasurer of Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas. Next year’s BGCT annual meeting will be Oct. 29-30 in Dallas.
Compiled by Art Toalston.

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