ST. LOUIS (BP)–The six Missouri Baptist conservative leaders who make up the Peace Committee have concluded they need a mediator.
Although the committee was unanimous in adopting its report to the Missouri Baptist Convention, it noted in the last of its five points that it is at an impasse and will ask Peacemaker Ministries, based in Billings, Mont., to meet with them “to work things out in Missouri Baptist life.” Peacemaker was founded in 1982 by Ken Sande, author of “The Peacemaker,” under the auspices of the Christian Legal Society.
Peace Committee chairman Jeff Purvis, pastor of First Baptist Church in Herculaneum-Pevely, said he plans to contact Johnny Johnson, Peacemaker’s senior ministry consultant who focuses on disputes in Baptist churches and denominational entities, to see if he or someone else would be available to help.
Purvis said he is hopeful that the committee’s work could come to an end “within a few months from the first of the year.”
So far the Peace Committee has met seven times. Three Peacemaker representatives took part in the committee’s first meeting by means of conference call, but were not asked to be involved in subsequent committee sessions.
Johnson is a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, who has served for more than 20 years as a pastor. He also has experience as a director of missions for two different associations in the Louisiana Baptist Convention.
Purvis, in his remarks to messengers at the MBC’s annual meeting Oct. 27, explained that the committee has found various public accusations and charges of power-brokering and legalism directed at various Missouri Baptist leaders to be “baseless.” He noted that he and four other members of the committee apologized to Roger Moran, research director of Missouri Baptist Laymen’s Association (MBLA), concerning such accusations.
Two of the founding members of Save Our Convention (SOC), John Marshall and Wesley Hammond, sit on the Peace Committee. MBLA and SOC were politically active at the 2007 annual meeting but were officially inactive this year.
Bruce McCoy, pastor of Canaan Baptist Church in St. Louis and the newly elected president of the convention, often is seen as associated with SOC but denies any association. Purvis and the other committee member, Jay Scribner, are said to be with MBLA. (Marshall is pastor of Second Baptist Church in Springfield and the newly elected MBC first vice president. Hammond is pastor of First Baptist Church in Paris and a member of the MBC executive board. Scribner is a retired pastor and past president of the MBC. Moran, the sixth committee member, is a layman from First Baptist Church in Troy.
The full report of the Peace Committee to the Missouri Baptist Convention follows:
Point #1: The former executive director and other Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) leaders “pitted” Executive Board members and key MBC leaders against one another and tried to keep them apart from each other.
Good, godly people have been maligned. These people deserve honor, respect, and for someone to seek their forgiveness. (Probably the most classic example of this is Roger Moran.)
If you have anything against your brother, you should go to him in a spirit of humility and honesty in order to seek reconciliation.
If you know that your brother has something against you, you should leave your gift at the altar and go to him in order to get things right between the two of you.
If you have been deceived in the past by someone who was seeking self aggrandizement, you should repent and seek God’s forgiveness and seek the forgiveness of the one who was maligned and from henceforth should walk circumspectly in a spirit of discernment.
Point #2: The work of the Investigative Committee and the conclusions of the Executive Board were handled properly, working within the framework of our MBC structure and within legal parameters.
We must put it behind us.
We must lay this to rest.
We must quit picking scabs.
We must pray for our former executive director.
Point #3: At all levels in Missouri Baptist life, we did not live by the Matthew 18 principle and did not go to persons directly with which we might have had an issue. Because we did not do this, bitterness, gossip, distrust, accusations and other untruths began to circulate, which in turn caused good people to act in divisive ways toward fellow conservatives.
Very few people are exempt from a violation in this matter.
It should cause conviction and repentance on the part of many people on both sides of this issue.
We must stop the gossip, backbiting, and back stabbing.
We must go to our brothers and sisters in Christ for confrontation, communication, and reconciliation.
We must learn to speak to God first about our brethren and then to our brethren, before we talk to others about our brethren.
We must function by the principles of Ephesians 4:29, Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
We should commit to not being critical and to not entertain critics.
Point #4: Because of these divisive ways, a multi-layered and multi-leveled series of events, meetings, letters, emails, resolutions, etc. were set in motion to perpetuate this divisiveness.
Those who have been responsible for these divisive methods should repent of their carnality and their divisiveness, which God hates.
We must stop aligning ourselves with the father of lies and the accuser of the brethren!
Point #5: Because we are at an impasse in our peace process, we will be asking the Peacemaker Ministries group to meet with us, so we may be able to complete the task the MBC Executive Board gave us, which is to work things out in Missouri Baptist life or biblical reconciliation in the MBC.
Allen Palmeri is associate editor of The Pathway, newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.