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Lineberger: ‘I could get no peace from God about … high positio

DALLAS (BP)–The pastor who was nominated to be the next executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas said he “could get no peace from God about serving in this high position” in his letter withdrawing his name as the nominee.
Phil Lineberger, 53, a former president of the BGCT and pastor of Williams Trace Baptist Church in the Houston area, was announced as the nominee in late August. A special called meeting Sept. 14 of the BGCT executive board was canceled upon his withdrawal.
“My mother, a lifelong Baptist who died this year, would have been thrilled to know that one of her children had been considered worthy to lead the great Texas Baptist Convention,” Lineberger wrote the search committee in a Sept. 4 letter. However, after agreeing to be nominated, “My wife, my three daughters and their families spent a week in intensive prayer, but we could not get confirmation in our spirits that God was calling us to this work.”
Bill Brian, an attorney and member of First Baptist Church, Amarillo, said: “We respect Dr. Phil Lineberger’s humble spirit and sensitivity to the Lord’s direction in informing us by letter, today, of his request to withdraw. …We are confident of the Lord’s leading in this dynamic process to the one He has chosen.”
BGCT officials said it was not clear what would happen now, whether the search committee would nominate the number two candidate or begin the search anew. Earlier Brian said more than 30 recommendations were submitted by Texas Baptists, five were invited for interviews and four were interviewed by the committee.
William M. Pinson Jr., executive director since 1983, has announced he will retire Jan. 31, 2000, as chief executive of the largest state Baptist convention.
Lineberger was president of the BGCT from 1989-91 and vice president in 1988-89. He is a current member of the BGCT executive board.
Lineberger’s nomination was criticized by conservatives in the state since he is an active participant in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a group of moderate Baptists organized in 1991 in protest of Southern Baptist Convention leadership. Lineberger is also a member of the board of directors of Associated Baptist Press, a Florida-based news service often critical of the SBC and heavily funded by the CBF. He also has been a co-chairman of Texas Baptists Committed, another organization of Baptist moderates.
Following Lineberger’s nomination announcement, critics had circulated a number of statements made by the Texas pastor highly critical of the Southern Baptist Convention and citing his connections to the CBF.

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  • Herb Hollinger