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GCR: Merge mission boards, chairman of North American Mission Board says

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (BP)–The trustee chairman of the North American Mission Board believes the “Great Commission Resurgence” declaration creates an opportunity for dialogue about an issue he believes needs to be addressed: a merger of the SBC’s two mission boards.

Tim Patterson, pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., told the Florida Baptist Witness that Southern Baptists should have a “singular world mission agency.”

Noting the SBC’s declining membership and baptism statistics, Patterson said he has been concerned about the “direction of our denomination for some time.” While the society, culture and world have changed in the past five decades, the SBC structure has not, he said.

Patterson said the “greatest” change in the SBC has been the “shift back to a biblical center where we honor and believe in the inerrancy, infallibility and plenary inspiration of the Word of God,” but while the SBC’s “message is stronger,” its “methods remain antiquated” with inefficient agencies.

“We duplicate properties, personnel and programs and thus are not good stewards,” he said.

(A restructuring of the Southern Baptist Convention was approved by messengers to the 1995 SBC annual meeting in Atlanta, on the occasion of the convention’s sesquicentennial. For details, see editor’s note below.)

Because “North America is now just as much a foreign mission field as any other country or continent” with diverse people groups and cultures, Patterson said, “We need a singular world mission agency that does not lessen its emphasis on missions in North America or any other part of the world, but enhances it.”

Patterson added, “The way we structure, fund and administer our work is overly bureaucratic and bloated. If we combine our efforts and funding, we could be much more effective and become better stewards of God’s resources.”

Patterson signed the GCR statement as NAMB trustee chairman because of his long history in denominational life, which has allowed him to have a “very good, first-hand understanding of how our systems work or don’t work,” he said.

Noting that he is the longest tenured current NAMB trustee, Patterson said he has seen the organization “at its best and worst.”

Signing the declaration as NAMB chairman is “to make a personal statement that from my personal perspective as the chairman, I see the need for a Great Commission Resurgence.”
Adapted from an article (http://www.floridabaptistwitness.com/10218.article) in the Florida Baptist Witness (floridabaptistwitness.com) by its executive editor, James A. Smith Sr.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Atop the restructuring of the Southern Baptist Convention in the mid-1990s, called “Covenant for a New Century,” was a reduction in the number of SBC entities from 19 to 12, including the creation of the North American Mission Board from the former Home Mission Board, Brotherhood Commission and Radio and Television Commission. Other facets of the restructuring included new names for two SBC entities to better reflect their ministry assignments: International Mission Board (formerly Foreign Mission Board) and Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (formerly Christian Life Commission). The SBC restructuring dissolved the former Historical, Stewardship and Education commissions, with other entities absorbing many of the three commissions’ duties. The Southern Baptist Foundation, meanwhile, was positioned as a subsidiary of the Executive Committee. The restructuring process began in 1993 with a motion referred from the SBC annual meeting in Houston that the convention’s president appoint a seven-member committee to “study the program statements of SBC agencies and institutions, and evaluate existing structures which are required to effectively implement such programs.” In September of that year, SBC President Ed Young named the committee, called the Program and Structure Study Committee, in accord with the motion’s call for three members from the Executive Committee, three from the convention at large and a chairman from either group. The study committee presented a unanimous report to the Executive Committee in February 1995 followed by its adoption on a 9,590-5,357 ballot vote by messengers at the SBC annual meeting in Atlanta. In September of that year, the Executive Committee approved the creation of a 10-member Implementation Task Force to carry out various organizational, personnel, legal and financial facets of the restructuring. The Implementation Task Force concluded its work in 1997, highlighted by the launch of the new North American Mission Board.

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