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Missouri Baptists elevate 2nd v.p. Page to presidency

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (BP)–Wendell Page, pastor of First Baptist Church, Lee’s Summit, was elected president of the Missouri Baptist Convention during its 163rd annual meeting, Oct. 27-29 at Springfield’s University Plaza Convention Center.
Page, current convention second vice president, defeated Benny King, director of missions of the St. Louis Baptist Association, 955-792 among 2,274 registered messengers, with 12 invalid ballots.
Page, 16-year pastor at Lee’s Summit, described himself as “a mediator type of person, and hope that I can reach out to everybody.”
Of the convention’s health, he said, “Our finances are amazing. Something is behind that. I want to be a facilitator and help us keep up that good work. When the Cooperative Program money comes in, we can do missions in Missouri, the United States and abroad. That’s what we’re all about.” Page and his wife, Margaret, were International Mission Board missionaries in the French West Indies for seven years.
Messengers adopted a Cooperative Program budget goal of $16.4 million for 1998, an increase of $900,000 over 1997. The formula for distribution of CP receipts remains the same: 58.25 percent to Missouri causes; 35.75 percent to Southern Baptist Convention causes; and 6 percent to SBC/MBC joint causes.
MBC business services director Bill Affolter reported Cooperative Program giving was nearly 7 percent ahead of the budget goal through September. Giving to the Missouri Missions Offering, the Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong missions offerings and World Hunger Fund also are ahead of the previous year, he reported.
In the election for first vice president, Bill Miller edged out Monte Shinkle, 650-614. Miller is pastor of First Baptist Church, Farmington, and chairman of Southwest Baptist University’s trustees; Shinkle is pastor of Concord Baptist Church, Jefferson City.
In a run-off for second vice president, Bill Cox, pastor of First Baptist Church, Nevada, defeated Boyd Gray, pastor of Boone Creek Baptist Church, Licking, 499-312. Chuck Phillips, pastor of First Baptist Church, Windsor, was eliminated in the initial ballot.
Messengers were informed that the MBC executive board voted Oct. 27 to create a committee to study the need for a legislative liaison to lobby on behalf of Baptists in the state legislature. The convention’s Christian Life Commission had asked the executive board to fund such a position.
The board’s outgoing chairman and convention’s outgoing president, Arthur Mallory, is charged with appointing the committee. MBC’s acting executive director, Willard Zeiser, said the committee would look at how other state conventions have approached the matter of employing a paid lobbyist.
The board also allowed a previously formed committee to lapse at the suggestion of its chairman. The committee was created to look at the impact of restructuring of the Southern Baptist Convention on cooperative funding of state missions endeavors in Missouri. Chairman Dick Lionberger, pastor of First Baptist Church, Savannah, said the committee has been unable to determine the restructuring impact because of delays in the NAMB budget process. He suggested the MBC missions department continue to monitor the situation until next spring, when the executive board could decide whether the study committee should be revived.
Two motions to require the MBC and its affiliated entities to discontinue meetings at Tan-Tar-A Resort at the Lake of the Ozarks — planned site of the 2000 MBC annual meeting — both failed. Tan-Tar-A generates revenue for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), makers of the motions contended, because of Mormon ties to the Marriott corporation.
Allen Lewis, messenger from First Baptist Church, St. Peters, who submitted one of the motions, said supporting Tan-Tar-A is inconsistent with witnessing to Mormons. “I want to be generous and loving as well, but the difference is, I don’t want to give my money straight to the Mormons,” Lewis said. Bob Stevens Jr., messenger from Ballwin (Mo.) Baptist Church and maker of the other motion, voiced opposition to “funding the Mormon cult.”
Tom Bonner, messenger from Calvary Baptist Church, Windsor, argued against the motions, saying, “I believe that we need to show the world that Baptists are generous, loving people and look a little bit like Christ did when he talked to the woman at the well.” Bonner said Tan-Tar-A has many non-Mormon employees — including his daughter, son-in-law and grandson — and that workers there need a Christian witness.
Michael Haynes, pastor of First Baptist Church, North Kansas City, asked messengers to trust MBC leadership in such matters. He added that rescinding a previous convention’s vote and breaking a contract with Tan-Tar-A would compromise the MBC’s integrity and put it at risk of legal action.
Haynes also read a letter from Len Camden, general manager of Tan-Tar-A, who explained that Marriott does not own Tan-Tar-A but manages it for Lehman Brothers, a finance company. “Anyone can own a piece of Marriott,” Haynes read. “It is not a Mormon-controlled company. It is owned by numerous individuals of many diverse faiths.” Haynes noted that Camden is a member of Riverview Baptist Church, Camdenton, and a member of the Missouri Baptists’ Windermere Baptist Assembly board of advisers.
Both Stevens’ motion and Lewis’ motion failed to receive the required two-thirds majority for changing a previous convention’s action.
David Tolliver, pastor of Oak Hill Baptist Church, St. Louis, made a motion to instruct the MBC executive board staff to discontinue the current practice of accepting and forwarding designated monies to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship organization of Baptist moderates.
“It is my opinion that the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is divisive within our Missouri Baptist Convention,” Tolliver said. “We want to be united.” Few churches in Missouri give to CBF through the state convention, Tolliver said, adding, “It’s interesting that so many leaders come from those churches.”
Michael Olmsted, pastor of University Heights Church, Springfield, contended Tolliver’s motion was out of order because it was in conflict with the convention’s business and financial plan, which establishes the executive board as the disbursing agency of the convention and, with the executive board bylaws, gives the board’s administrative committee authority to administer and monitor the business and financial plan. Olmsted said the objective of the motion could be achieved only by amending the business and financial plan.
MBC president Mallory said “the point is well taken” and ruled Tolliver’s motion out of order.” Gary Urich, pastor of First Baptist Church, Princeton, asked that the full convention decide the matter, pointing to a section in the MBC bylaws requiring churches to be in single alignment with the Southern Baptist Convention. Mallory noted that the ruling could not be appealed.
Robert Garringer, pastor of First Baptist Church, Memphis, made a motion to require members of state convention committees — and boards of convention agencies and commissions — to affirm the Baptist Faith and Message. Garringer unsuccessfully brought similar motions to the 1995 and 1996 annual meetings.
The chairman of the convention’s committee on continuing review, Clyde Elder, director of missions for St. Joseph Baptist Association, said the committee did not recommend passage of Garringer’s proposed amendment “because the motion, as stated, is not enforceable under our constitution and bylaws.”
Saying the change was necessary to ensure the doctrinal integrity of those serving, Garringer quoted the late Herschel Hobbs, primary author of the Baptist Faith and Message: “You cannot believe just anything and remain a Baptist.”
John Hughes, pastor of First Baptist Church, Independence, contended that Garringer’s motion was out of order because it sought to amend the corporate charters of MBC agencies regarding qualification for board service. The MBC constitution stipulates that changes in corporate charters must be done through the executive board.
Mallory agreed with Hughes and ruled Garringer’s motion out of order. Garringer argued, “This doesn’t have anything to do, directly, with those charters.” Mallory suggested that Garringer meet with the parliamentarians and work out a constitutionally acceptable way of bringing his motion at a future meeting.
James McCullen, pastor of First Baptist Church, Mountain View, made a motion to encourage that in future annual meetings no business or elections be scheduled after the Wednesday morning session. He said this would give messengers time to return to their home churches for Wednesday night prayer meetings. “The convention exists to serve the churches,” McCullen noted.
After two show-of-ballot votes were too close to call, the motion was decided by a ballot vote, 621 against, 619 for, with 28 invalid ballots.
Rob Ayers, pastor of Camp Branch Baptist Church, Sedalia, made a motion that on-site child care be provided for future MBC annual meetings, beginning in 1998. Holding his 3-year-old son, Charlie, Ayers said it was ironic that a meeting with a “family” theme would not provide child care.
“In my parents’ day, the children of the church were taken care of by the members of the church; everybody took a part,” Ayers said. “Today it seems it’s on the backs of the parents, and them alone.”
Cardis Bryan, pastor of First Baptist Church, Steelville, and a member of the MBC executive board, said child care is a problem across the Southern Baptist Convention. He cited low usage by parents and liability concerns.
Zeiser said, “Our hands are tied when we are at a public facility as to whether or not they would let us have child care and nursery facilities in this place … . You cannot provide for several children in a bedroom.”
Ayers’ motion failed by a margin of 451 for to 593 against on a ballot vote. Afterward Zeiser said, “We’re not giving up on child care.” He promised that organizers would continue to seek an acceptable child care provider in the host city of the annual meeting. No acceptable provider was found for this year’s event.
Paul Jarrett, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, Columbia, made a motion to require a 75 percent majority for passage of a convention resolution, instead of the current simple majority. There is no problem when a resolution is approved overwhelmingly, he noted. “However, when we have resolutions that reflect in the outcome of the vote a sharp difference of conviction, the resolution is then put forth implying that the body as a whole embraces the spirit and the content of the resolution.” The 75 percent requirement also would save time during business sessions, he added.
On a ballot vote, Jarrett’s motion failed to get the required two-thirds majority, with 487 voting in favor and 410 voting against.
Among resolutions passed by messengers:
— Missouri Baptists’ four institutions of higher education were commended for their cooperative spirit with the convention and Missouri Baptist churches, for missions and ministry initiatives of their students, for the “exemplary leadership” of their presidents and for operating with a balanced budget.
— support for the proposed Religious Liberty and Charitable Donation Protection Act in Congress to counter recent court decisions which have permitted creditors to force a church or charity to return past gifts from people who have filed for bankruptcy.
— opposition to practices of religious persecution worldwide .
— appreciation for Missouri Baptists’ ongoing participation in and prayer and financial support of the Belarus partnership, which has been extended until Dec. 31, 2000. Messengers authorized a special offering to assist mission work in the convention’s partnership with Belarus Baptists, which was collected Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, totaling $4,349.64.