NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Wade Burleson, the Oklahoma pastor whose relationships with fellow trustees of the International Mission Board have been strained for a number of months, announced June 1 he will ask the Southern Baptist Convention to approve an investigation of various trustee actions.
The new IMB trustee chairman, John Floyd, a seminary administrator and former IMB missionary, told Baptist Press via e-mail, “I have no comment” regarding Burleson’s announcement.
Burleson, immediate past president of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, stated on his weblog that he will make a motion asking messengers at the SBC “to authorize the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention to appoint an Ad Hoc Committee in order to listen to, view evidence of, and possibly investigate further, five concerns involving the International Mission Board.”
The issues listed by Burleson are:
“(1). The manipulation of the nominating process of the Southern Baptist Convention during the appointment of trustees for the International Mission Board.
“(2). Attempts to influence and/or coerce the IMB trustees, staff, and administration to take a particular course of action by one or more Southern Baptist agency heads other than the President of the International Mission Board.
“(3). The appropriate and/or inappropriate use of Forums and Executive Sessions of the International Mission Board as compared to conducting business in full view of the Southern Baptist Convention and the corresponding propriety and/or impropriety of the Chairman of the International Mission Board excluding any individual trustee, without Southern Baptist Convention approval, from participating in meetings where the full International Mission Board is convened.
“(4). The legislation of new doctrinal requisites for eligibility to serve as employees or missionaries of the IMB beyond the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message.
“(5). The suppression of dissent by trustees in the minority through various means by those in the majority, and the propriety of any agency forbidding a trustee, by policy, from publicly criticizing a Board approved action.”
Burleson stated on his weblog, or blog, that he is opting “NOT to go public with details that serve as the basis for the Greensboro recommendation.”
Concerning a statement at the end of his June 1 announcement that “I will seek to answer any and all questions people may have regarding this Greensboro recommendation, but the privilege of a response is reserved for those who identify themselves by name or by their personal blog,” Burleson told Baptist Press he was referring only to the process involved in making a motion at the SBC, not the particulars of why he is calling for an investigation.
In the most recent incident, Burleson was chastised by the outgoing IMB trustee chairman, Arkansas pastor Tom Hatley, during the board’s May 22-24 meeting in Albuquerque.
Hatley recommended that Floyd, the new trustee chairman, continue to restrict Burleson from holding committee assignments and additionally restrict him from trustee-only sessions, until the first-year trustee publicly acknowledges that his actions, in Hatley’s words, “have seriously eroded the confidence of his fellow trustees and that he can and will work with them in a way that will instill mutual trust.”
Burleson sought to question Hatley’s statements but, after his initial query, his microphone was cut off so that the board could move on to other business.
Among the issues that have sparked tensions between Burleson and various trustees is his weblog, where postings have been made on the days when IMB trustees are in session, and what he wrote on the blog challenging private trustee gatherings that involve potential board decisions. Burleson also has challenged IMB trustee actions that established policies to exclude missionary candidates not baptized in a church that holds to eternal security or those who practice a private prayer language.
At their January meeting, IMB trustees voted to seek Burleson’s removal during the SBC’s June 13-14 sessions in Greensboro, but they rescinded that request during their March meeting. They also enacted a policy at the March meeting to prohibit a trustee from publicly criticizing an IMB policy once it has been enacted by the board, and Burleson has stated his willingness to abide by the policy.
Burleson also has stated frequently on his blog that he will retract anything he has written if he can be shown that it is inaccurate.