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Indiana convention moves beyond issue of church with woman pastor


MADISON, Ind. (BP)–The one issue which stood the greatest chance of creating discussion on the floor of the annual meeting of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana ended up being a non-issue.
With Bloomington’s University Baptist Church having called a woman as senior pastor, the Indiana convention’s executive committee appointed a subcommittee to formulate a response. After a year of discussion with the church, the executive committee drafted a recommendation to be presented to the convention which read, “The State Convention of Baptists in Indiana chooses not to remove the University Baptist Church from membership within its Convention specifically in honor of its long-standing cooperation in the Convention and prayerfully for the purpose of holding open avenues of reconciliation but at the same time chooses to voice its strong conviction that the University Baptist Church stands in violation of the principles of Scripture and outside the commonly held beliefs of Indiana Baptists in calling a woman to be senior pastor, and further chooses to no longer seat the messengers and no longer receive funds from University Baptist Church, Bloomington, Indiana, until such time as the church repents of its current course and the Convention votes to rescind this action.”
Prior to the SCBI’s Oct. 26-27 annual meeting, however, University Baptist Church notified the convention of its decision to affiliate with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and withdraw from the Southern Baptist Convention and the SCBI, thus making action by the convention unnecessary, and Joel Ragains, chairman of the executive committee, merely reported the matter to the convention’s 241 messengers.
Ragains went on to report that Cooperative Program giving by the state’s 372 churches and 237 mission congregations was up 3 percent over last year, marking 10 consecutive years of growth. He also reported that the C.E. Wiley State Missions offering is up 17 percent and the Highland Lakes Baptist Camp offering is up 11 percent.
Messengers approved a total convention budget of $4,163,332, up 4.82 percent over the current year, including an anticipated $2,416,517 in Indiana Cooperative Program giving. SBC causes will continue to receive 32.5 percent of the CP gifts.
Woody Cumbie, pastor of Northside Baptist Church, Indianapolis, was elected convention president; Jim Downey, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, Seymour, first vice president; and Randy Gaskey, pastor of First Baptist Church, Roselawn, second vice president. Each was the lone nominee for his post.
Among several resolutions adopted by messengers were appreciation for “faithful and visionary leadership” for David Wheeler as the convention’s former director of evangelism and Carrol Fowler as the convention’s former director of missions, both of whom are now in faculty positions at an SBC seminary, Wheeler at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas, and Fowler at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Mo.
Messengers also affirmed the Cooperative Program and its 75th anniversary celebration, “Partners in the Harvest,” committing to increase CP giving by 1 percent in the coming year. Another resolution encouraged fellow Baptists to be involved in the election process, to keep fellow citizens informed of current events and to pray for elected officials.
Receiving the convention’s small-church pastor honors this year was Mike Harris of Calvary Baptist Church, Fort Wayne. He has served the congregation 20 years and was unavailable to receive the award in person because his church is in the process of building and he had deadline commitments which kept him from attending the convention. The associational missionary for the Northeast Baptist Association, T.B. Smith, accepted the award on Harris’s behalf.
Among others given special recognition were Roger Bear for 15 years of service as the convention’s Baptist Collegiate Ministries director and Gary Bearce, 10 years service as director of Sunday school and church development.
Next year’s annual meeting will be Oct. 24-25 at Sunnycrest Baptist Church in Marion.