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La. Baptists add BF&M 2000 to bylaws by 819-370 vote

BOSSIER CITY, La. (BP)–Louisiana Baptists overwhelmingly voted in favor of adding the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message to their convention bylaws and affirmed the inerrancy of Scripture in the state constitution during the annual meeting of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, Nov. 11-12 in Bossier City.

Messengers gained the two-thirds majority needed to add the BF&M 2000 to the convention bylaws by a vote of 819-370. In 2000 messengers voted to affirm the BF&M 2000 and in 2001 approved a strong resolution on the nature of the Bible. Those actions required majority votes and did not provide the permanence sought by supporters.

“Baptists have historically had confessions of faith,” said Bill Ascol, pastor of Heritage Baptist Church in Shreveport. “You can go back to the earliest days of Baptists, and they felt it wise and prudent to say together, ‘We believe these things concerning the Scriptures.'”

“The reality is that the Bible, if we believe it, stands for absolute truth,” said Charles Marceaux, pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Prairieville. “And there’s been too many things that have been happening in the world due to a lot of easy believisms.

“We’ve got to stand for something or we stand for nothing,” Marceaux said during a floor debate on the issue.

Messengers also provided the two-thirds majority needed to adopt a recommendation from the convention’s executive board to add an amendment to the LBC constitution affirming the Bible.

“This convention will do all its work in accord with the principle that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God and is sufficient for all faith and practice and is truth without any mixture of error in every area of which it speaks (Matthew 22:29),” the amendment states.

The amendment passed with 68.6 percent of the vote, 725-332.

“We’re living in changing times,” said Philip Robertson, the executive board’s chairman. “And I believe we do need to affirm — because of the times in which we live — the authority of God’s Word, that it is ‘truth without error in every area of which it speaks.'”

Leaders of Louisiana College, the Louisiana Baptist Message, the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home and the Baptist Retirement Center all informed convention messengers of trustee actions to ensure their entities remain tied to Louisiana Baptists. Action is yet to be taken by trustees of the Louisiana Baptist Foundation.

Concerns arose after entities in several other states had acted to sever ties from their state convention and move to self-perpetuating boards.

In response, the Louisiana Baptist Convention executive board had appointed a study committee to examine the charters of convention entities and determine what — if anything — needed to be done to ensure the same scenario did not occur in this state.

The committee worked with each entity to draft necessary changes and guarantees.

In other convention business, messengers reelected Steve James to a second term as state convention president without opposition. James is pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Lake Charles.

Lonnie Wascom, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Hammond, was elected first vice president, and Roy Strother, pastor of North Acres Baptist Church in Minden, was elected second vice president, both also without opposition.

The 1,401 messengers approved a stand-still Cooperative Program budget of 23.9 million in response to an economic slowdown and below-budget giving trend. The budget will continue a 35 percent allocation for Southern Baptist Convention international and national missions and ministries.

Messengers also affirmed resolutions stating their opposition to pornography, human cloning, abortion, gambling and homosexuality. Messengers voiced their support in resolutions affirming the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the war on terrorism and the nation of Israel.

In other action messengers:

— Voted to define a “cooperative” Louisiana Baptist church as one that gives through the state Cooperative Program.

— Adopted a new system for employing and administering associational directors of missions. The new system replaces one that had been used for four decades. Under the new system, associations can either employ or administer their own DOM or they can enter into a contract with the state convention for the funding, employment and administering of a DOM.

The 2003 annual meeting will be Nov. 10-11 in Lafayette.

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