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Mo. Baptist home schooling stance takes unusual route toward adoption

ST. LOUIS (BP)–Messengers, in an unusual move at the 1998 Missouri Baptist Convention annual meeting, accepted a floor motion to consider a resolution on home schooling that had not been endorsed by the convention’s committee on resolutions. Then they passed the resolution after heated debate.

Though the resolutions committee received 32 resolutions from messengers at the Nov. 2-4 sessions, it reported out only seven, citing time constraints and the divisiveness many of the other resolutions would cause among messengers. Among those resolutions was one extolling the virtues of home schooling submitted by Kerry Messer, messenger from Bloomsdale Baptist Church, Bloomsdale.

At the end of the time for consideration of resolutions presented by the committee, Robert Colston, pastor and messenger from First Baptist Church, Adrian, moved that messengers be provided with a copy of Messer’s resolution and be allowed to consider adopting it in a later business session. “I feel it would be good for Missouri Baptists to take a stand and support that [home schooling],” he said. The motion passed.

In the Wednesday afternoon business session, messengers viewed the text of the resolution projected on large video screens in the convention hall. MBC public relations assistant Rachael Preston said it was impossible to provide enough photocopies of the lengthy resolution to all messengers in the time that was allowed.

Colston moved adoption of Messer’s resolution, and the motion was seconded. Messer spoke in favor of his resolution, and he apologized for its length. “The [Missouri convention’s] Christian Life Commission adopted this resolution and sent it to the committee in the hopes that it would edit it to a more manageable size,” he said. “The reason we brought the resolution is because home educators in Missouri Baptist life have been disenfranchised.

“We have seen an exodus from Missouri Baptist churches over the last 10 years of families who choose to home school but have been made to feel uncomfortable about it.” Messer did not cite any statistics in support of his claim.

Robert Webb, pastor and messenger from Memorial Baptist Church, Columbia, spoke against the resolution. “I have been a pastor for 35 years, and I have seen many families choose the option of home school,” he said. “But, today, I feel it is important to point out that 90 percent of the people in this room are products of the public education system.

“I see this resolution as a further withdrawal of ourselves from the world into colonies of Christian insularity.”

Paul Powell, messenger from Third Baptist Church, St. Louis, echoed Webb’s sentiments. “The theme of our convention this year says people count,” he said. “But, we as Baptists have pretty well deserted our inner cities. Now we are deserting our public schools.

“We’ve got to stop the retreat.”

Michael Inman, messenger from Parker Road Baptist Church, Florissant, disagreed with Powell’s rationale. “Kids count, and our kids need to be discipled in-depth before they can disciple others.”

Inman pointed out many reasons he felt home schooling is “a necessity,” particularly because sex education is taught in public schools. “We should not have any kind of sex education in the high schools or the grade schools,” he said. “Because of this, good parents are fighting for our children’s schools.”

After the convention approved a motion to call the previous question and end debate on the resolution, Messer’s resolution passed on a show-of-ballots vote, with approximately two-thirds of messengers voting in favor of it.

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  • Rob Marus