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Key BGCT committee’s recommendations: missions network, more in-state funds

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The creation of a new world missions network that critics say would rival the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board and North American Mission Board has been endorsed by the Baptist General Convention of Texas’ administrative committee.

The proposed network would be an affiliate of the BGCT and would help churches send missionaries globally.

In a related matter, the committee also recommended that the percentage of church funds kept in Texas be raised to 79 percent of BGCT receipts, with the Southern Baptist Convention and other missions entities being lowered to 21 percent of budget.

The proposal also would lift controversial caps that the BGCT placed on giving to the SBC Executive Committee, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, and the SBC seminaries.

“We don’t expect all of the churches to participate in the new giving plan but it is designed to make the choice uniquely up to the church,” said BGCT spokesperson Becky Bridges. “Our percentages were determined by the number of churches that might choose the new giving plan and what is necessary to keep BGCT ministries open.”

Morris H. Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, said he believes Texas Baptists will continue to support SBC missions regardless of the latest BGCT plans.

“It is obvious BGCT leaders are moving the state convention even farther away from a healthy relationship with the SBC,” Chapman said. “Regardless, I know God’s work is going to be done and I trust his will regarding Southern Baptists’ role in advancing his kingdom.

“I also trust the goodness of our Southern Baptist churches in Texas and that they will continue to be faithful in their support of Southern Baptist missions, ministries and theological education,” Chapman added.

Jack Graham, president of the SBC and pastor of the Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, told Baptist Press that Texas Baptists should be wary of the BGCT’s proposal.

“I think every Southern Baptist church in Texas should evaluate this latest move and prayerfully consider an action that would support SBC missions,” Graham said. “I think more and more of our churches in Texas will change their giving profile to make sure that SBC missions are funded.”

Charles Wade, BGCT executive director said in an interview with The Baptist Standard, “Texas Baptists are interested in a bold new vision, not recreating what already exists through traditional missions sending agencies. This world missions network would create a way to connect churches and institutions with needs, opportunities and resources.”

David Hankins, vice president for Cooperative Program with the SBC Executive Committee, said he believes that Southern Baptists in Texas love missions.

“It’s obvious in how they show their love for the SBC, the IMB and the Cooperative Program,” Hankins said. “I am optimistic that the churches in Texas will do this coming year what they have done the last two years and, in large measure, disregard the recommendation of the BGCT leadership and continue their generous support of the SBC.”

Bill Tinsley, associate executive director of the BGCT, told Baptist Press the new missions agency is not in competition with SBC missions entities.

“The committee is very specific that we are not a missions-sending agency,” Tinsley said. “We are still committed to a cooperative relationship with the SBC.”

Tinsley acknowledged that a BGCT missions study committee did not have any formal contact or discussions with either CBF or SBC leaders about the proposed new venture. “I don’t know why we didn’t,” Tinsley said. “It was something that Texas wanted to do. I don’t think it will have an impact on SBC missions.”

Associated Baptist Press, however, reported that committee members did have contact with a CBF leader. CBF Coordinator Daniel Vestal said he had several discussions with subcommittees of the task force, which he described as “cordial.”

“I never expected this committee to recommend a connectional relationship with CBF like they’ve had in the past with the SBC,” Vestal told ABP. “I had hoped for and am pleased with their recommendation that BGCT find ways to partner with CBF. We look forward to that. We already partner with Texas Baptists in a number of ways.”

Tinsley said the proposed BGCT missions agency will network churches to do missions. “When you are in a missions setting, to get missions done, you want to work with whoever you can,” he said, noting one instance where an IMB missionary to Siberia was given assistance by CBF missionaries.

The BGCT administrative committee endorsed the proposed plan at its Aug. 29-30 meeting in Dallas. The proposal came from the BGCT’s Missions Review and Initiatives Committee.

Messengers at the BGCT’s annual meeting, Nov. 10-11 in Waco, Texas, will have final say on the matter, pending approval by the BGCT executive board at its Sept. 24 meeting.

The new missions agency would work with existing Baptist missions agencies including the SBC’s IMB, NAMB, the Baptist World Alliance and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Global Missions, according to a news release on the BGCT’s website.

The Missions Review and Initiatives Committee’s recommendations related to missions were:

— That a world missions network be established to help churches, associations, institutions and individuals fulfill their missions calling through both short-term and long-term missions endeavors across the United States and the world.

— That this world missions network connect churches, associations, institutions and individuals to available missions research, education, information, facilitation, training, screening, strategy development and support.

— That this world missions network, like other existing Texas Baptist entities, be established as a not-for-profit [501(c)(3)] affiliate of the Baptist General Convention of Texas with a permanent, strong connection to the BGCT, and that the director of the network serve on the BGCT Leadership Council.

— That this world missions network be governed by a 32-member rotating board, all of whom are Baptists; and that the BGCT elect through the Committee on Nominations for Institution Boards three-fourths of the board members and the board choose one-fourth.

— That the initial board of this world missions network be chosen by the president of the convention, the chair of the BGCT Executive Board, the chair of the Administrative Committee, the chair of the Missions Review and Initiatives Committee, the president of Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas, the president of Texas Baptist Men and the executive director of the BGCT.

— That this world missions network establish an advisory council to bring together missions experts and representatives of Baptist conventions from across the world on a regular basis to work on further missions endeavors, and that the executive directors of the BGCT, Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas and Texas Baptist Men serve on the advisory council.

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  • Todd Starnes