ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–North American Mission Board trustees on Oct. 3 heard an update on disaster relief operations in New York and Washington and approved guidelines for NAMB’s cooperation with new state conventions.
Trustees also responded to five motions referred from the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting and adopted a $128 million budget for 2002, an increase of 1.72 percent over the current year’s spending plan.
Trustees learned that 17 new missionaries had been approved or appointed the previous day by the missionary personnel subcommittee, and that 31 chaplains had been endorsed for the first time by the chaplains committee.
NAMB President Robert E. “Bob” Reccord shared with trustees about his recent visit to “ground zero” of the terrorist attacks in New York, where he witnessed Southern Baptists volunteers working long hours preparing food, ministering and sharing their faith. As of that morning, he said, Southern Baptists had prepared more than 260,000 hot meals.
“I just want to remind you that Southern Baptists are one of the largest disaster relief forces in the world,” Reccord said, adding that there are currently more than 21,000 trained volunteers staffing 300 Southern Baptist Disaster Relief units operating through state conventions.
He also told of walking through a nearby park and finding a tattered piece of paper in a tree — a portion of a city budget that had likely been closely guarded for confidentiality. “I was reminded of just how tissue-paper-thin life is, how there are no guarantees, and how we better make sure we are following the right reference point,” he said.
The guidelines for NAMB’s cooperation with new Baptist state conventions adopted by trustees provide a structure for dealing with new state conventions within geographic boundaries of existing conventions, said Harry Lewis, director of NAMB’s strategy coordination team. NAMB typically works with state conventions to develop “cooperative agreements” for funding missionaries and other mission efforts.
A task force of trustees, state convention leaders and NAMB staff developed the guidelines. Lewis said they updated existing guidelines for new fellowships and the most recent new state conventions. “We simply were trying to update them … and put them into a document that would be current,” he said.
The guidelines do not apply to NAMB’s relationships with existing state conventions or pre-convention fellowships. Lewis also stressed that the guidelines affect only NAMB’s position in partnering with new state conventions, not their legitimacy.
“We know the autonomy of their position,” he said. “They can choose to become a fellowship or a convention. But the guidelines basically specify the conditions in which we would determine whether we form a formal agreement with them.”
General provisions of the guidelines include that conventions should be representative of all people groups, defined by a geographical boundary, “compatible with current policies of NAMB and doctrinal positions of the SBC” and singularly aligned with the SBC. Also, “all jointly funded staff, missionaries and endorsed chaplains must conform with and agree to minister consistent with and not contrary to” the current Baptist Faith and Message statement.
Consideration also is given to whether the new convention will likely result in an increase in missions and evangelism over what would have occurred in the area had the new convention remained a part of the existing entity.
The full text of the guidelines is available via the Internet at www.namb.net/trusteemeeting.
The five motions considered by trustees were made by individuals during the SBC annual meeting in June in New Orleans and were referred by the convention’s Committee on Order of Business to NAMB. In responses to the motions, the board:
— Maintained its current policy on appointment of missionaries who have experienced divorce. The referred motion asked NAMB to consider changes that included allowing missionaries who “have been divorced for biblical reasons” to serve as church planters and senior pastors. “Under the current policies, divorced individuals may serve in numerous missionary roles (assuming certain other guidelines are met), except for the role of senior pastor,” according to the response approved by trustees.
— Described its broad range of ministries directed toward bivocational ministers in response to a motion that a committee be nominated to study such efforts. NAMB currently has a national missionary working with national, regional and state organizations of bivocational ministers.
— Noted a set of suggested guidelines for Southern Baptist ministries considering use of federal funding for faith-based initiatives in response to a motion requesting formation of a committee to help develop such guidelines for local churches.
— Noted the entity will either produce or make available “tools for ministering to the families of homosexuals” by the 2003 SBC annual meeting in response to a motion requesting such resources. NAMB currently produces an evangelism process titled, “Sharing Jesus: Focus on Homosexuals.”
— Noted that NAMB currently offers Challengers, a mission education organization for teenage boys, in response to a motion that NAMB offer a program similar to the Acteens organization for girls sponsored by Woman’s Missionary Union.
NAMB’s response to the motions referred from the SBC are available in their entirety at www.namb.net/trusteemeeting.