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GREENSBORO, N.C. (BP)–While much pre-convention attention centered on the “Sanderson Motion” on homosexuality, the longest discussion during the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s Nov. 13-15 annual meeting involved the strained relationship between the BSCNC and the Baptist Retirement Homes.
Discussions and votes by the messengers involved reversing the BSCNC board of directors’ action to escrow money from the 2006 budget targeted for the BRH for the last four months of the year -– about $160,000 of the $938,500 allotted in the 2006 budget -– after the BRH told the convention that it would appoint five new trustees starting in January 2007 and phase out BSCNC funding over a four-year period.
On the final day of the convention, messengers voted — on a recommendation by the budget committee -– to escrow 2007 BRH funding and not promote the 2007 North Carolina Offering for Older Adults, which is held each February, until the relationship between the convention and BRH has been resolved.
The BRH, which operates five retirement homes throughout the state, was founded in 1951 and has a historical relationship with the convention. However, it is a separate corporate entity. According to its website, the BRH received approximately $1.6 million from the BSCNC’s Cooperative Program, the annual offering and local Baptist churches.
BRH bylaws give the convention control over naming trustees, but in 2005 the retirement entity approved a plan to name its own trustees. The BSCNC executive committee originally approved the request but reversed its decision after convention lawyers deemed that the change would violate the bylaws concerning the BSCNC-BRH relationship.
BSCNC Executive Director Milton Hollifield Jr. told the convention he would like to see the matter settled and for both sides to continue their relationship. However, there has been no meeting between BSCNC and BRH leaders, according to convention officials.
“We want to keep the relationship if at all possible,” Hollifield told the convention.
BSCNC President Stan Welch appointed an 11-member study committee to look into the issue. The committee will attempt to meet with BRH officials and report back to the convention at next year’s annual meeting.
Before the vote to escrow 2007 funds, budget committee chairman Larry Burns told messengers that the decision to escrow funds would not hurt the BSC because it had a plan in place to use reserve funds due to the decision to change the relationship with the BSCNC in 2005.
“Not one senior adult has been hurt because of this,” Burns said.
The relationship also will be tested because messengers elected trustees to the BRH but they may not be recognized. No one representing the BRH spoke at the annual meeting.
In other business, messengers voted to allow BSCNC-affiliated educational institutions to select up to one-third of their trustees who are active Christians but not Baptists. The convention nominating committee can still reject any nominee. In the past, trustees had to be Baptist and residents of North Carolina. This was an issue because some candidates were members of churches affiliated with the Alliance of Baptists, which has endorse “same-sex marriage.”
Messengers also approved an amendment to Article VII of the bylaws which states that non-educational institutions/agencies may choose to nominate up to 50 percent of their trustees or directors. The BSCNC board of directors can then reduce the Cooperative Program funds allocated to that entity by the same percentage.
In addressing the Sanderson Motion, messengers voted by nearly a three-fourths margin to make an addition to the convention’s articles of incorporation, Article VI.A.3 concerning membership stating, “Among churches not in friendly cooperation with the Convention are churches which knowingly act to affirm, approve, endorse, promote, support or bless homosexual behavior. The Board of Directors shall apply this provision. A church has a right to appeal any adverse action taken by the Board of Directors.”
The proposal was brought before the convention last year by Bill Sanderson, pastor of Hephzibah Baptist Church in Wendell.
The addition now accompanies the original article which stated, “A cooperating church shall be one that financially supports any program, institution, or agency of the Convention, and which is in friendly cooperation with the Convention and sympathetic with its purposes and work.”
The action needed a two-thirds vote during two consecutive annual meetings.
Messengers approved a resolution to support churches that lose their property through eminent domain. Sedgefield Baptist Church in Greensboro pastor Deryl Holliday said his church property could be claimed by the state for a planned six-lane highway. The state offered Sedgefield about $400,000 less than the million dollars Holliday said it would cost to replace the church’s land and facilities. A bill in the state legislature will be debated in the next session which requires the state to pay equal value for any land/facilities taken from churches and nonprofits through eminent domain.
— approved a three-year partnership with eastern Canadian Baptists.
— reelected without opposition the current slate of officers: Stan Welch of Kannapolis, president; Rick Speas of Winston-Salem, first vice president; Leland Kerr of Wilmington, second vice president; and Richard Crider of Asheboro, recording secretary.
The convention currently is operating on a two-year budget, with $37,786,000 allocated for 2007. A new two-year budget will be approved during next year’s Nov. 12-14 annual meeting in Greensboro.
The convention has four giving options. Plans A and D allocate 32 percent to Southern Baptist Convention causes while Plan B allocates 10 percent. Plan C allots 68 percent of gifts to the Baptist State Convention; 10 percent to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a breakaway organization from the SBC; 10.9 percent to theological education in state Baptist colleges and universities; and 11.1 percent to special overseas, home and other missions initiatives, with nothing allocated for SBC.
A total of 2,662 messengers registered for the meeting, the fewest in more than 25 years according to convention officials.