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Mo. executive board votes for seeking racial inclusion


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (BP)–A resolution to seek an increase in participation of racial minorities on Missouri Baptist Convention-related boards and commissions has been adopted by the convention’s executive board.
Board member Michael Haynes, pastor of First Baptist Church, North Kansas City, presented the “resolution on racial inclusion” during the board’s April 13-14 meeting at the Baptist building in Jefferson City.
Haynes invited fellow members of the “lily-white” board to look around the room and see the problem. Calling the resolution a step toward correcting an imbalance, Haynes said failure to include minorities limited God’s power to use the leadership such individuals could provide. Missouri Baptists cannot expect to reach minorities with the gospel and yet deny them full participation in state convention life, he declared.
Board member Cardis Bryan, pastor of First Baptist Church, Steelville, suggested a change in the wording of Haynes’ resolution. As submitted, the resolution said the executive board acknowledges the racial “exclusion” of the MBC, and it expressed a desire to correct the racial “exclusion” within the convention.
Bryan pointed out the word “exclusion” implied deliberate action. He and others questioned whether the situation came about because of deliberate action; some said the word “exclusion” could be misinterpreted by members of minorities and by opponents of racial inclusion.
A motion to refer Haynes’ resolution to a study committee failed on a 24-20 vote after Haynes said, “If we were going to appoint a committee to study it, we should have done it years ago.”
Board member Robert Barnes of Plaza Heights Baptist Church, Blue Springs, also spoke against referring the matter to a committee, saying, “We’re guilty by action or inaction — period. Let’s go on.”
The board then passed the amendment to change “exclusion” to “imbalance,” which also changed “inclusion” to “balance.”
After several members pointed out changing “inclusion” to “balance” altered the intent of the resolution, the board amended it again to undo that change. Finally, on a voice vote with no one dissenting, the board passed the resolution.
Member Jim Jeffries of National Heights Baptist Church, Springfield, then urged the creation of a committee to study the problem. MBC President Wendell Page, pastor of First Baptist Church, Lee’s Summit, said forming such a committee would be up to convention Executive Director Jim Hill.
Hill said April 15 he did not yet know what form such a committee might take, but said, “I would like to see us explore ways to address those concerns that have been raised.”