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Missouri Baptists elect Qualls, reallocate escrowed funds

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (BP)–Missouri Baptists elected a theological conservative and installed a new executive director during their Oct. 28-30 annual meeting at the University Plaza Convention Center in Springfield.

The 2,010 registered messengers also overwhelmingly passed a recommendation from the Missouri convention’s executive board to release $2.1 million currently in escrow for five breakaway entities where trustee boards amended their charters to become self-perpetuating. The funds will be reallocated in the 2003 budget for state mission work, church planting efforts and entities that have remained loyal to the MBC.

Kenny Qualls, 39, pastor of Springhill Baptist Church and MBC first vice president, was elected president by acclamation. He serves on the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee and was chairman of the MBC executive director search committee. Qualls has been pastor at Springhill since 1990, a congregation whose Sunday morning worship service attendance has grown from 22 to more than 800.

“I am overwhelmed with the goodness of our God and how he chooses to use just common ordinary people,” Qualls said. “I am excited about working with the wonderful, committed pastors and churches of this state.”

David Clippard was installed to replace Jim Hill as MBC executive director. Hill resigned in October 2001, saying he could no longer work with theological conservatives who hold a majority of seats on the MBC executive board.

“After reading the Pastoral Epistles, I came to the deep personal conviction that, first, I was a Baptist,” Clippard wrote in an editorial that appeared in The Pathway, the official newsjournal of Missouri Baptists. “I believe the local Baptist church is the closest thing to a true New Testament church in its life and practice that I can see or understand.

“Second, I came to the conviction that I was a Southern Baptist,” he continued. “Even in my early years, the Cooperative Program of financially supporting missions seemed to have more than just the mark of human genius about it. For me, it seemed to have the very inspiration of God about it.”

Following a video presentation about Clippard’s life, Morris H. Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee, Tom Elliff, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Del City, Okla., where Clippard has been a member, and Anthony Jordan, executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma provided words of praise and encouragement and prayers for Clippard.

Drawing the text of his message from the first six chapters of Nehemiah, Clippard called on all Missouri Baptists to pick up stones where they live and work and help rebuild the wall described in the scripture passage.

Clippard stacked five concrete blocks as he listed five challenges that he encouraged every MBC church to meet in order to impact God’s Kingdom — train at least four new people to share their faith; baptize at least one new convert on the first Sunday of every new year; help plant a new church at least once every four years; start something new every year like a new Sunday School class; and encourage 1,000 or more Missouri Baptists to participate in short-term international mission trips.

Clippard also criticized the trustees of five entities where charters were amended making their boards self-perpetuating. “At present we have five entities that seem to think they are self-existent and therefore not dependent or accountable any longer to this convention that birthed and supported them,” he said. “This is disappointing to us all.”

Messengers overwhelmingly voted to take $2.1 million of escrowed money that had been earmarked for the five entities — Windermere Baptist Conference Center, The Baptist Home, Missouri Baptist Foundation, Missouri Baptist College and the Word & Way newspaper — and reallocate the funds in the 2003 budget to state mission work, church planting efforts and to entities that have remained loyal to the MBC.

Escrowed funds in the amount of $750,000 will be used to fund the Missouri Missions Offering for 2003 while Hannibal-LaGrange College, Southwest Baptist University, William Jewell College and the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home will each receive $100,000. The MBC church planting initiative will receive $200,000, for a total of $1.35 million. The MBC executive board was given authority to distribute the remaining $750,000 to priority needs. The board emphasized that none of the escrowed funds will be used for salaries or legal fees.

Messengers also overwhelmingly approved a $400,000 budget for The Pathway, the MBC’s new official newsjournal, to begin publishing a biweekly newspaper in January. The budget includes salaries for an editor, managing editor, reporter and an administrative position.

The Word & Way was stripped of its title as official MBC newspaper by the executive board earlier this year. It was not allowed to distribute newspapers or have an exhibit at the convention. In addition, a recommendation by the executive board to remove all references to Word & Way in its bylaws was overwhelmingly approved by messengers.

Also, a motion instructing the MBC to drop its declaratory judgment petition against the five breakaway entities was defeated by a more than 5-1 margin. Attorneys for the MBC and the five entities are set to square off in Cole County Circuit Court in Jefferson City Nov. 19. The judge will hear arguments on whether to dismiss the case and set a schedule for discovery and depositions and set a trial date.

In other business, messengers approved:

— A $17.5 million budget for 2003, with 64.25 percent continuing to be earmarked for MBC ministries and for SBC international and national missions and ministry.

— A new 2004 partnership with the Baptist Union of Romania and the Hungarian Baptist Union of Romania. A partnership with Belarus ends in 2003.

— Resolutions condemning Internet pornography and calling on all Christians to vote in the Nov. 5 elections according to “their bible based convictions for candidates and issues consistent with our values.”

Next year’s annual meeting will be Nov. 3-5 in St. Louis.

    About the Author

  • Don Hinkle