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Mo. convention disqualifies 19 churches, challenges Wal-Mart

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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. (BP)–Messengers to the Missouri Baptist Convention elected a slate of theologically conservative officers for the 10th consecutive year and disqualified 19 churches under the convention’s single-alignment stipulation approved at last year’s annual meeting.

Messengers also approved a resolution encouraging Missouri Baptist church members to exercise moral stewardship regarding the businesses they patronize, keeping in mind that Wal-Mart in August asked and received permission to join the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, pledging to give them $25,000 annually and helping Wal-Mart to “advance diversity,” or homosexuality.

Concerning Amendment 2, the embryonic stem cell initiative on the Nov. 7 ballot, the convention voiced “absolute and unwavering opposition” to the prospect of cloning in the state. Missouri Baptists were encouraged to participate in a day of fasting and prayer Nov. 5 as part of the effort to defeat the amendment.

Mike Green, 24-year pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Republic and the MBC’s current first vice president, was elected president without opposition. Outgoing President Ralph Sawyer declined to run for a second one-year term in order to spend more time on the needs of the church he pastors, First Baptist Church in Wentzville.

Also elected without opposition were the rest of the Missouri Baptist Laymen’s Association-endorsed slate: Bruce McCoy, pastor of Canaan Baptist Church in St. Louis, first vice president; Jim Cogdill, director of missions for the Cape Baptist Association, second vice president; and Lisa Albert, wife of Rodney Albert, chairman of the MBC’s Christian Life Commission and pastor of Hallsville Baptist Church, recording secretary.

Special guests during the convention’s Oct. 30-Nov. 1 sessions in Cape Girardeau’s Show Me Center included Joyce Rogers, widow of Adrian Rogers, longtime pastor of the Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., who made brief remarks on Oct. 31 and U.S. Sen. Jim Talent who addressed the messengers Nov. 1.

On the evening of Oct. 31, International Mission Board President Jerry Rankin and Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) President Frank Page both spoke during an IMB appointment service of 67 new missionaries.

A total of 1,550 people, including 1,162 messengers, registered for the annual meeting, which carried the theme of “Renewing Our Passion,” based on Romans 1:8.

Among the 19 churches disqualified for convention MBC membership were First Baptist churches in Jefferson City, Cape Girardeau, Independence and Lee’s Summit, each of which have ties with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship or the rival Baptist General Convention of Missouri.

Missouri is unique in its approach to single alignment in that no other state convention in the SBC has passed such a definite statement articulating its ties to the SBC.

A representative of one of the disqualified churches, Third Baptist in St. Louis, said the church would be praying for the Missouri Baptist Convention and requested that messengers respond in kind. It was the only public comment before messengers voted on the disqualifications.

Messengers approved a $16.5 million budget for 2007, with 1 percent set aside for Cooperative Program missions education and promotion. The remaining $16,335,000, or 36 percent, will be designated for SBC causes and 64 percent for MBC work. That represents .25 percent more for Southern Baptist work than was budgeted for 2006. The 2007 budget sets a goal of $4 million for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions, $2 million for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions and $325,000 for the world hunger offering.

Gerald Davidson, former MBC president and former SBC first vice president, delivered the convention sermon. Rodney Albert will deliver the 2007 convention sermon during Oct. 29-31 sessions at Tan Tar A Resort in Osage Beach.

The MBC executive board welcomed nine new members to its ranks in addition to the three new officers elected. Besides those 12, three of the four previous officers also will serve varying terms on the new board.

The new members are: Vic Borden, pastor of Red Bridge Baptist Church in Kansas City; Alice Chastain, member of First Baptist Church in Polo; Marshall Link, director of missions for the Cane Creek Stoddard Baptist Association in Poplar Bluff; Denny Marr, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Republic; Mark McMullin, pastor of First Baptist Church in Piedmont; Justin Nelson, pastor of South Creek Church in Springfield; Kim Petty, member of Grace Community Church in Smithville; Ron Turnbull, member of Elm Grove Baptist Church in Curryville; and Jim Wells, director of missions for the Tri County Baptist Association.

Sawyer, having served one year as president, now will serve a fresh three-year term as a board member. Knight, pastor of First Baptist Church in Viburnum, having served a year as second vice president, will serve on the board for one year. Jason Rogers, member of First Baptist Church in Winfield, will serve on the board until 2008 after having served this past year as recording secretary.

Featured speakers at the convention included Tony Preston, assistant professor of pastoral leadership at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City; evangelist Ken Freeman; John Marshall, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Springfield; and Richard Land, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

Marshall told the story of Old Bethel, the oldest non-Catholic church west of the Mississippi River that is being rebuilt in its 200th anniversary year near Cape Girardeau.

Land said that Americans are a people with problems of the heart, soul and spirit that only God can solve. Missouri Baptists are to be a city on a hill, Land said, letting their light shine so that men may see the convention’s good works and glorify God’s name.

The MBC remains locked in a five-year legal battle with five entities whose trustees voted to make their boards self-perpetuating by amending their charters. The status of Windermere Baptist Conference Center, Missouri Baptist College, the Baptist Home retirement center, the Missouri Baptist Foundation and Word & Way newsjournal remains uncertain as the legal maneuvering continues. The MBC legal task force provided messengers with an update.

Messengers approved a new three-year partnership to plant churches with the Baptist Association of El Salvador beginning Jan. 1. The convention’s current partnership with Romanian Baptists was extended for one more year.

Resolutions on such topics as the sufficiency of Scripture in a therapeutic culture, recovering a biblical maintenance of church membership and covenant marriage were passed. Other resolutions expressed support for pregnancy resource centers, bivocational pastors and the Old Bethel restoration project.

In other business:

— A vision statement for the MBC was approved that reads “Cooperating Missouri Southern Baptist churches penetrating all people groups with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” The vision statement is based on Matthew 28:18-20. The vision statement will stand alongside the mission statement of “Missouri Baptists serving together to grow Great Commission churches for the glory of God.” It replaces the previous vision statement of “Radical commitment to kingdom growth through healthy churches;”

— Authorization was given to Hannibal-LaGrange College to expand its program offerings beyond the undergraduate level to the graduate level.

    About the Author

  • Allen Palmeri