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N.C. messengers approve budget & homosexuality policy

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (BP)–Despite several attempted amendments, messengers attending the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina approved the proposed 2006-07 budget as presented by the BSCNC’s board of directors at the convention’s Nov. 14-16 annual meeting in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Messengers also approved, by an overwhelming majority by raised ballots, a motion directing the BSCNC’s board of directors to develop and implement a policy relative to any BSCNC affiliated church that “knowingly affirms, approves, or endorses homosexual behavior.”

In his motion, Bill Sanderson, pastor of Hephzibah Baptist Church in Wendell, said, “Such policy must deal clearly with homosexual behavior and include that a church which knowingly affirms, approves or endorses homosexual behavior is a church not in friendly cooperation with the convention.”

Jo Godfrey, a messenger from Emerywood Baptist Church in High Point, said the motion violated church autonomy, the priesthood of the believer, the freedom of belief, and the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself.

Paul Berry, pastor of Grainger Baptist Church near Kinston, said, “We need revival,” and God’s people ought to make “known what sin is to sinners.”

Messengers defeated a motion by Ted Stone, a Durham-based evangelist who sought to abolish three of the state’s four optional giving plans, one of which sends no money to the Southern Baptist Convention.

Both Stone’s motion and the proposed budget garnered the most time for discussion during the meeting.

Presenting his motion on Tuesday, Nov. 16, Stone said he didn’t feel like a “lone ranger” anymore because several notable conservatives had voiced their support for his motion. Such support notwithstanding, Stone’s motion failed on a ballot vote by a 12 percent margin (56-44), whereas last year it failed by nearly a two-to-one margin.

Stone told Baptist Press the defeat was only a “temporary setback” and that his motion failed because too many conservatives stayed home, saying, “We cannot allow this tragic mistake to happen again.”

“I will not give up until this goal is realized,” he said.

With less than two hours left in the annual meeting on Wednesday morning, budget committee chairman LeRoy Burke moved the adoption of the proposed budget. Preserving the optional giving plans Stone wanted to abolish, the budget also increased allocations to the SBC and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship by 0.5 percent for the coming year. But a new wrinkle in the budget would no longer count designated monies to the CBF as Cooperative Program giving — thus sparking debate.

“Our church has women deacons,” said Rick Matthews, a messenger from College Park Baptist Church in Greensboro, attempting to defend his amendment to reverse the CBF exclusion in the budget.

Matthews speculated that the budget change excluding CP credit for CBF designations is the first step in the demise of Plan C, the budget option that directs no money to the SBC. He predicted that, should the budget pass as presented, fewer moderates would attend subsequent annual meetings and that a single giving plan budget would eventually be adopted.

Timmy Blair, a messenger from Piney Grove Chapel Baptist in Angier, said his church supports AWANA and Campus Crusade for Christ, but the church had never asked for CP credit for gifts to those independent entities. Citing the CBF as an independent entity, Blair said money given to the CBF should not be credited as CP giving.

After several other messengers responded to the amendment, it failed in a show-of-ballots vote. Citing a point of order, one messenger called for a division of the house, essentially indicating a standing vote should be taken. After calling for the standing vote and conferring with others seated on the platform, BSCNC President David Horton said the motion had failed again.

After two other failed amendments, the budget passed overwhelmingly.

Immediately after the budget passed, Stone told Baptist Press, “I could not in good conscience vote for a budget that gives any consideration to the CBF. What we just did was temporarily allow those in our ranks who oppose what the SBC stands for and accomplishes to continue to undermine that ministry.”

Citing Associated Baptist Press, the Baptist Joint Committee, the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, as well as the divinity schools at Campbell and Gardner-Webb universities in North Carolina, Stone said designated money “to those CBF-friendly entities will still count as Cooperative Program giving.”

“Some complained that my motion was ‘too much, too soon,’ but I’d rather be accused of that than to be guilty of doing too little, too late,” he said.

Messengers also elected new convention officers. Stan Welch, pastor of Blackwelder Baptist Church in Kannapolis, was elected president in a contested race. Also nominated for president was Blythe Taylor, associate pastor of St. John’s Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C. According to the Internet, Taylor is a leader for the North Carolina chapter of the CBF. She garnered about 30 percent of the vote.

Ricky Speas, pastor of Old Town Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, was elected first vice president. And Leland Kerr, pastor of Eastside Baptist Church in Shelby, defeated Barry Nealy, director of missions for Three Forks Association, in the race for second vice president.

“We didn’t get everything we wanted,” outgoing President David Horton told Baptist Press after the meeting adjourned. “But we’re headed in the right direction.”

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  • Norm Miller