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Mo. convention affirms course against breakaway entities

RAYTOWN, Mo. (BP)–Messengers to the Missouri Baptist Convention annual meeting overwhelmingly voted to continue their legal action against five breakaway institutions, elected a slate of theologically conservative officers for the sixth consecutive year and passed resolutions on gambling, traditional marriage, embryonic stem cell research and holiness as it pertains to cultural influences.

A total of 1,981 messengers and guests attended the Oct. 25-27 sessions at First Baptist Church in Raytown.

A motion introduced by Ron Mackey, a messenger from Windsor Baptist Church in Imperial and a member of the self-perpetuating board of The Baptist Home, called on messengers to instruct “the MBC Executive Board, the MBC Legal Task Force, and any other responsible party to immediately drop the legal actions against Missouri Baptist University, the Missouri Baptist Foundation, Windermere [Baptist Conference Center], The Baptist Home, and Word & Way [newsjournal].”

The MBC has been locked in a three-year legal battle ever since the five institutions’ trustee boards voted to amend their charters, making the boards self-perpetuating. The case thus far has involved court wrangling over procedural matters, and the case has splintered, with part of it now with the Western Division of the Missouri Court of Appeals.

Messengers rejected Mackey’s motion by more than a 2-to-1 margin after hearing a report from the MBC legal task force that included an encouraging word from former Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice John Holstein, who called the MBC’s case “winnable” and strongly urged the MBC to stay the course. Messengers also passed, with little opposition, a resolution affirming the legal task force.

Task force chairman Bob Curtis, pastor of Ballwin (Mo.) Baptist Church, said now is the time for both sides in the legal dispute to do all they can to bring the case before a judge.

“Let’s put this to rest and get on with Kingdom work,” Curtis said.

Elected as convention officers without opposition were: Mitchell Jackson, pastor of Miner Baptist Church in Sikeston, president; Ralph Sawyer, pastor of First Baptist Church, Wentzville, first vice president; Jerry Williams, director of missions, Barry County Baptist Association, second vice president; and Harvey Parker, minister of music, First Baptist Church, St. Joseph, recording secretary.

Messengers approved a $16.7 million budget for 2005, marking the second year in a row for a $500,000 increase. As is customary, 35.75 percent will go toward Southern Baptist Convention causes while 64.25 percent will go toward MBC causes.

Possible relocation sites for the Baptist Building were expanded beyond Mid-Missouri to anywhere in Missouri, meaning Missouri Baptist leaders can now negotiate with other municipalities as the process continues.

A gift of $10,000 out of reserve funds was approved to help pay for the Billy Graham Heart of America Crusade in Kansas City.

A total of $55,000 out of reserves was approved to purchase the Calvary Baptist Church building in Macon for the purpose of planting a new church there within six months.

A motion by Jay Scribner, pastor of First Baptist Church in Branson, for $100,000 in reserves to go toward the missions/evangelism endowment at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary was amended to include Hannibal-LaGrange College and Southwest Baptist University. But the vote to approve the amended motion failed, 486-464.

Next year’s annual meeting will be Oct. 24-26 in Springfield, with Wayne Isgriggs, pastor of First Baptist Church in Lincoln, chosen to preach the convention sermon.

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  • Allen Palmeri