PADUCAH, Ky. (BP) — Messengers to the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s annual meeting conveyed a “no-confidence” vote in the leadership of Sunrise Children’s Services, ended a partnership agreement with Georgetown College, elected a layman as its new president and rejoiced in more than 330 decisions for Christ through pre-convention outreach.
The 666 registered messengers, through resolutions, also challenged Kentucky Baptists to make a commitment to child safety in their lives and their churches and expressed appreciation to R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in recognition of his 20 years of service.
Total attendance exceeded 1,100, including more than 440 church members, for the convention’s two sessions Nov. 12 at Lone Oak First Baptist Church in Paducah.
Messengers overwhelmingly passed a vote of no confidence in the leadership of Bill Smithwick, president of Sunrise Children’s Services.
The action follows weeks of controversy surrounding a proposed change to the agency’s hiring practices to permit employment of homosexuals. Smithwick, who has served as Sunrise’s president for 16 years, has described the proposed change as a pre-emptive action to sustain government funding. The agency receives approximately $1 million of its $27 million budget from Kentucky Baptists.
Sunrise’s board, however, voted Nov. 8 to continue its current hiring practices in response to the growing concern of Kentucky Baptists.
The motion for a vote of no confidence was brought by Tommy Tapscott, second vice president of the KBC. Messengers later approved recommendations from the KBC committee on nominations to replace a slate of nominees to serve on Sunrise’s board and to fill five other vacancies. (A Nov. 14 report on the convention’s report can be accessed
Messengers voted to officially conclude the KBC’s partnership agreement with Georgetown College on Nov. 12, 2014.
The partnership agreement was formed after Georgetown requested to end its covenant agreement with the KBC in 2005 to establish a self-perpetuating board of trustees and to meet Phi Beta Kappa academic standards and expand its donor base.
Following Georgetown’s decision to withdraw from the covenant relationship, Kentucky Baptists adopted the partnership arrangement to guide its future involvement with the college.
In 2010, a special committee to review the partnership with Georgetown recommended that the convention forego the partnership to place greater focus on affiliated agencies and institutions in covenant agreements with the convention. Georgetown has not received Cooperative Program support since 2009.
The KBC Mission Board originally proposed the move prior to the 2012 annual meeting, but convention action was postponed for one year while the college searched for a new president following the retirement of Bill Crouch.
KBC Executive Director Paul Chitwood told messengers he recently had met with Georgetown’s new president, Dwaine Greene, and both had agreed to conclude the partnership.
Alan Reddit, pastor of Georgetown Baptist Church, opposed the action on procedural grounds, contending that messengers had not been given sufficient notice since the Mission Board’s recommendation had not been published in the Western Recorder state paper 30 days prior to the annual meeting. Reddit requested that action be delayed for another year, allowing time for Georgetown’s new president to set its direction.
Parliamentarian Adam Greenway, however, explained that bylaw and reporting requirements had been satisfied when the recommendation was postponed last November.
Chip Hutcheson, editor and publisher of the Princeton Times-Leader and The Eagle Post of Oak Grove, was elected by acclamation as the KBC’s new president — the sixth layman elected to the post in the past 75 years.
A deacon at Southside Baptist Church in Princeton, Hutcheson has served on the KBC’s public affairs committee and currently is a trustee for the Western Recorder.
Serving with Hutcheson, also by acclamation, will be: first vice president, Kevin Milburn, pastor of Union Baptist Church near Florence, and second vice president, Ed Amundson, pastor of High Street Baptist Church in Somerset.
A Cooperative Program budget goal of $22.5 million for 2014-15 was approved by messengers, equal to the current budget. CP gifts from Kentucky churches will be divided evenly between KBC ministries and Southern Baptist Convention causes, after 7 percent has been set aside for Cooperative Program resourcing.
The convention welcomed 12 churches as new KBC affiliates and accepted four congregations under watchcare.
In other business, messengers approved allowing the Kentucky Baptist Foundation to use any undesignated bequests for the work of the foundation.
And they heard first readings of two proposed changes to the KBC constitution and bylaws. The first specifies that trustees of the KBC Mission Board or its affiliated agencies and institutions will be members of cooperating churches, which previously were defined as those that contribute to the Cooperative Program and submit an Annual Church Profile. The other removes a mention of the president of Kentucky Baptist Men on Mission because its steering committee no longer exists.
Next year’s annual meeting will be held Nov. 11 at Living Hope Baptist Church in Bowling Green, with Curtis Woods, the KBC’s associate executive director, delivering the convention sermon.
Prior to the annual meeting, Kentucky Baptists converged on the western part of the state for RISK: Paducah, a series of outreach events that included prison ministry, wild game dinners, sports camps, revivals and a quilting seminar.
The first-ever RISK (Reaching Into the State of Kentucky) initiative resulted in a total of 331 decisions to follow Christ, reported Chuck McAlister, leader of KBC’s evangelism, church planting and collegiate ministries team. McAlister said the RISK events may become a regular pre-convention outreach in annual meeting cities.
Todd Deaton is editor of the Western Recorder (www.westernrecorder.org), newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.