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La. Baptists affirm CP Missions, inerrancy, bivocational ministers

WESTWEGO, La. (BP)–Louisiana Baptists underscored their support of the Southern Baptists’ Cooperative Program channel of support for missions and affirmed the inerrancy of Scripture in resolutions adopted during their Nov. 12-13 annual meeting in the New Orleans-area Alario Convention Center in Westwego.

Outlining the history and effectiveness of Southern Baptists’ 76-year-old Cooperative Program, the convention’s CP resolution noted that some individuals have redirected support from the giving channel and “are seeking to influence churches to redirect their Cooperative Program giving to alternate and competing giving programs designed to undermine and replace the work of existing Southern Baptist agencies, seminaries and mission boards.”

The statement commends Louisiana Baptists’ ongoing support of the Cooperative Program and calls on them “to reject all appeals to divert all or part of their Cooperative Program giving to other channels; to remain loyal to the Cooperative Program; … and to consider prayfully increasing the amount of their budget giving through the Cooperative Program.”

The resolution concerning the Bible noted that Baptists always have believed it to be the “holy, inspired, written Word of God.”

But some have claimed to discover errors in it, the resolution said. “Doubters of God’s Word have manipulated definitions of words such as ‘infallible,’ ‘perfect’ and ‘true’ to allege falsehood in the Bible or to claim the Bible to be true in one area of knowledge and not in others.”

In response, the resolution declared “that the Bible is inerrant, infallible, true, trustworthy, without mixture of error and that, singularly or together, these words mean that every statement and word of the Scripture is absolutely accurate concerning every field of knowledge it discusses.”

The statement calls on “all Louisiana Baptists, their churches, institutions, officers, committee members, executives, staff members, faculty and employees to renew our commitment to these basic Baptist convictions and to demonstrate that commitment by faithful obedience to every word that has proceeded out of God’s mouth as recorded in the Holy Bible.”

In balloting for convention officers, Steve James, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Lake Charles, was elected president by a 898-651 count, or a 58-42 percent margin, among nearly 1,600 messengers over Waylon Bailey, pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington, and a former professor at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. James had described himself as a supporter of the Louisiana Inerrancy Fellowship and of the SBC conservative resurgence.

James was nominated by Jerry Chaddick, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church, DeQuincy, while Bailey was nominated by David Crosby, pastor of First Baptist Church in New Orleans.

Two other Louisiana Inerrancy Fellowship-endorsed nominees were elected, John Jeffries, pastor of First Baptist Church, Chalmette, as first vice president, over Randy Magee, pastor of First Baptist Church, Monroe, by a vote of 919 (66.8 percent) to 456 (33.2 percent), and Kendall Holley, pastor of Broadacres Baptist Church in Shreveport, as second vice president over Stephen Laughlin, pastor of First Baptist Church, Pitkin, by a vote of 424 (69.1 percent) to 190 (30.9 percent).

Messengers approved a budget of $23,923,076 for the coming year, an increase of $1,173,076 or 5.2 percent. As in past years, the new budget allocates 35 percent of receipts to the Southern Baptist Convention, with the rest retained for Louisiana Baptist work.

In other business, messengers approved:

— a resolution defining what constitutes a “cooperating” Louisiana Baptist church. The action completes a process begun at last year’s convention, when the convention’s executive board originally sought to change the existing definition of cooperation. Previously, the constitution simply required that a church “cooperates” with the convention in order to be able to send messengers to the annual meeting.

Last year, the executive board proposed an amendment to require that churches must cooperate “monetarily.” But a messenger sought to amend the proposal, eventually sending it back to the board for study.

This year, the executive board brought the same amendment. However, by the time it reached messengers, leaders had realized no constitutional change was needed. “Our constitution already has outlined for us how we go about defining or qualifying a cooperating Baptist church,” the board’s president, Philip Robertson, said. “And it does not say we should do that through an amendment to the constitution. It says that should be done by bylaws or resolution.”

As a result, Robertson withdrew the proposed amendment and proposed a simple resolution declaring that “in order to qualify as a cooperating Baptist church that the church must be one that cooperates monetarily with the convention.” The resolution was approved without discussion or dissent.

— a bylaw amendment that also dated back to last year’s meeting, when a messenger sought to amend the bylaws which stipulate that no more than two members of a church may serve on state committees and boards at any one time. Last year’s proposal sought to allow persons who move to another church to complete their terms of service on a committee or board, even if it meant more than two persons from the particular church were serving at one time.

The matter was referred for study.

At the annual meeting, the executive board proposed an amendment to the membership bylaw but not one in line with last year’s attempt. Instead, it proposed: “Existing board or committee members who move to a church with two members currently serving on a board or committee shall be rendered ineligible to serve. No more than one member of the same church may serve on the same board or committee. Existing board or committee members who move to a church with a member currently serving on the same board or committee on which they are serving shall be rendered ineligible to serve.”

LBC President Tommy French said the change “spreads the work out across the churches, across the convention.” The amendment was approved without discussion or dissent.

— a motion to send a letter of affirmation and encouragement to President George Bush, proposed by Carl Gulde, pastor of First Baptist Church, Crowville, who stated: “I move that the new Louisiana Baptist Convention president write and forward a letter to the president of the United States, George W. Bush, expressing Louisiana Baptists’ appreciation for his leadership in calling our nation to prayer prior to making the necessary call to war and for his personal expression of faith and pledging the commitment of Louisiana Baptists to pray for him and for continued wisdom as he leads the nation.”

In speaking to the motion, Gulde said he thanks God for a president who recognizes Christ as Lord and Savior.

“I’m proud to be an American,” he told convention messengers. “And I’m proud that the only way this nation will ever stand is with the understanding that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior.

“If Almighty God takes back his hand, we’ll see worse than what happened at the World Trade Center,” Gulde emphasized. “We need God’s protection.” The motion drew unanimous approval.

Among other resolutions adopted by messengers, one addressed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, noting that the Bible “teaches the love of God for the whole world, including the people of Islam.” It also affirmed “submission to the Lord Jesus who taught us to love our enemies.” The resolution declared “unity with and prayers for those who have suffered personal tragedy because of these attacks” and resolves that Louisiana Baptists will pray for the victims of the war on terrorism, “that they may finally experience economic stability, political peace, and freedom of religion.” The resolution also called on Louisiana Baptists to commit themselves to the nation and its leaders as the necessary responses to the attacks are made.

In a resolution commending bivocational pastors, the convention affirmed their work as a legitimate form of ministry, noting that bivocational ministers “are not part-time ministers but rather dual-role ministers who have full church ministry and a marketplace ministry.” The resolution stated that more than 800 Louisiana Baptist churches are served by bivocational pastors. Affirmed their work as “used of God in the work of his kingdom,” the resolution encouraged ministry students “to be alert to the need to choose and nurture a second vocation as an enabler for ministry” and urged churches to consider “strengthening programs, ministry and outreach through the use of bivocational staff persons,” including the starting of new churches.

Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 11-12 in a yet-to-be decided Shreveport-Bossier area.
Compiled by Art Toalston from reporting by C. Lacy Thompson and Lynn Clayton.

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