WINSTON SALEM, N.C. (BP)–In a conciliatory effort to unite Southern Baptists in North Carolina, evangelist Ted Stone has changed his proposed motion so that its impact is delayed.
Stone’s original motion would have called for an immediate abandonment of three out of the four Cooperative Program giving plans from which North Carolina churches now choose. Passage of the motion would have forced the budget to be re-written overnight during the state convention’s annual meeting.
Stone’ new motion would still abolish the multiple giving plans, but not immediately. Instead, Stone says, his motion will ask the BSCNC’s board of directors, executive and budget committee to present at the 2007 meeting a biennial budget that would include a single giving plan in which the SBC would receive at least 35 percent of the dollars. The plan also would provide Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute with contributions not less than the total amount allotted to the smallest Baptist college in North Carolina.
Stone wants to restore the traditional single giving plan to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s Cooperative Program budget. As of now, one plan gives nothing to the SBC while another one gives only 10 percent. He will present his motion at the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s annual meeting Nov. 14-16 in Winston-Salem.
“I’m trying to allay the fears of those who had thought my original motion might be too much too soon,” Stone told Baptist Press.
Proposed budget changes would take effect in 2008. Currently, the convention offers four giving plans: Plan A (the original CP plan) and Plan D, through both of which the SBC receives 32 percent. Plan B apportions 10 percent to the SBC while Plan C gives nothing to the SBC but allots 10 percent to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a group that broke away from the SBC because of disagreement with the election of conservative leaders. Plans A, B and C give 68 percent to the state convention budget, while Plan D trims the state allotment in favor of special ministries and Fruitland Baptist Bible Institute.
Allan Blume, executive vice president/treasurer of Conservative Carolina Baptists, said Stone’s motion “calls for a clear direction that we are going to one giving plan and are going to increase support of the Southern Baptist Convention. Conservatives will stand together on that.” Blume serves as pastor of Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Boone, N.C.
“I’m excited about what Ted has done and I’m sure conservatives across North Carolina will support him,” Blume told Baptist Press. “I’ve gotten calls from lots of people, and those who have already heard about this are very enthusiastic.”
Blume said most of the tension in North Carolina concerning Stone’s original motion was not about the intent of it, but its immediacy.
“I think we all want to be sure we’re not making major changes too hurriedly, and we want to be sure that what is done will not hurt any of the good things in the state that we want to stay in place,” Blume said.
Stone’s decision has “disarmed or eliminated that objection of moving too quickly, but at the same time has kept the ultimate purpose and intent to get back to one giving plan without people wondering whether it will be a workable solution,” Blume said.
By directing his motion to the board of directors and the budget committee, Stone’s motion will “allow these committees to be more careful and thoughtful with more time to be sure it works across the board,” Blume said.
BSCNC President David Horton, pastor of Gate City Baptist Church in Greensboro, N.C., said, “I’m grateful the revised motion allows two more years in budget cycle to consider all the changes that must occur for us to go back to a single giving plan.’
“I’m supportive of the motion, and I believe it is the right step for North Carolina Baptists to take. From what I’m hearing from other conservatives, they feel very strongly about it, and I believe the motion has a very good chance of passing on the floor of the convention.”
Citing the 1995 election of Greg Mathis as president of the BSCNC, Horton expressed his gratitude for a growing conservative trend in state convention leadership.
“North Carolina has always had grassroots Baptists who believe the Bible is inerrant,” Horton said. “But we’ve had trouble electing conservatives to positions of leadership. But I think we’re making great strides in becoming the kind of convention grassroots Baptists in our state have always wanted.”
Mathis, pastor of Mud Creek Baptist Church in Hendersonville, N.C., told BP, “I think there are many conservatives who appreciate Ted’s willingness to [revise his motion]. It’s a good move on his part, and I appreciate it.
“I’ve said all along that budget changes are better through a slow, methodical careful process. I think many North Carolina Baptists would like to commit to a serious research and study of the possibility of going back to a single giving plan,” said Mathis, who also serves on the BSCNC budget committee.
Mathis said Stone has “put the budget process back in the hands of the budget committee to commit to a single-giving plan. I know he had quite a few supporters, but this approach and process is a better way to go about it.”
Stone believes the “short delay in the effective date of my motion will give our board of directors and budget committee sufficient time to plan for budget changes so as not to hurt any worthwhile missions efforts in the state.
“However, the requirement for an increase from the present 30 percent to 35 percent, and perhaps a higher amount if the dollars are available, will send the message to our national partner, the Southern Baptist Convention, that we are back on track.”
Stone said he “looks forward to the day that loyal Southern Baptists in North Carolina can give our rightful share of supporting the new challenges of the mission field around the world, and the new challenges to strengthen our six growing Southern Baptist seminaries that are doing such a superb job of preparing thousands of those called to serve our Lord Jesus.”
While some have opined that a segment of SBC churches in the state might withdraw from the BSCNC should the motion pass, Stone said, “I’m not only appealing to Southern Baptists in North Carolina who use the name conservative, I’m appealing to those who are Bible-believing and Bible-practicing Southern Baptists who may bear the label of moderate to come together under the umbrella of the Cooperative Program where we can learn true cooperation and strengthen missions in this state and around the world.”