ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–Trustees of the North American Mission Board approved new working agreements with 18 state Baptist conventions, approved 28 new missionaries, endorsed 30 new chaplains and celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Southern Baptist entity’s founding during their regular meeting Oct 9.
Most of the cooperative agreements still need to be approved by the state Baptist conventions, and all but one were approved as negotiated with state convention staff. However, the proposed agreement with the Baptist General Convention of Texas was amended in order to “accommodate their concerns…”, Harry Lewis, NAMB’s director of strategic coordination, reported.
The new cooperative agreements marked the first time the documents had been renegotiated since NAMB’s founding in 1997. The agreements define how NAMB works with individual state Baptist conventions in the joint funding of missions efforts.
The issue in Texas arose when the BGCT executive board changed a negotiated agreement that previously had been approved by the BGCT’s state missions commission, missions review & initiatives committee and administrative committee. The BGCT board deleted a sentence stating that jointly funded personnel “shall comply with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000,” citing concerns that the sentence could leave the impression that the BGCT board approves of the Southern Baptist statement of faith.
Leaders of the BGCT have expressed disagreement with several of the revisions to the Baptist Faith in Message in 2000. The issue was resolved in the original agreement with assurances by the BGCT that any missionaries uncomfortable with conforming to the Baptist Faith and Message as required by NAMB could be appointed as solely funded missionaries of the BGCT.
NAMB trustees responded by moving the references to the Baptist Faith and Message into a parenthetical phrase higher in the paragraph to clarify that it was NAMB’s requirement only, said Lewis, the lead strategic coordinator for NAMB who helped negotiate the original agreement
The affected section now reads as follows, with the parenthetical statement being the only change:
“Selection of jointly supported personnel shall conform to procedures and requirements of both entities (This includes NAMB’s requirement for those personnel to conform to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.).”
Lewis said that because the BGCT and NAMB have approved different agreements, the issue now likely will have to go back to the BGCT executive board.
“What their board did was to change the negotiated agreement. We have not signed the agreement altered by the BGCT.” Lewis said. “… At this point we don’t have a new cooperative agreement, because we’ve both signed differing versions. But we’ve made adjustments to try to accommodate their concerns.”
The existing agreement will remain in effect pending further action, Lewis said.
In adopting a 2003 budget of $125,562,500, trustees were told by Mike Day, NAMB’s vice president for organizational development, it is “basically a flat budget.” Compared to the NAMB’s 2002 budget of $128,153,625, the new budget reflects a reduction of nearly $6 million in expenses and $2.65 million in revenue resulting from the anticipated spinoff next year of the FamilyNet television network into a separate for-profit subsidiary. That change in FamilyNet’s status is pending approval by the SBC Executive Committee in February.
The economy also has been a factor in limiting budget growth, Day said, particularly with performance of NAMB’s invested reserve funds prompting a corresponding decrease in the investment income projected for next year.
The anniversary celebration served as a conclusion for the meeting. NAMB staff — both in Alpharetta, Ga., and via teleconferencing from Fort Worth, Texas — joined trustees for a time of personal reflections on how the agency has been shaped since it officially began on June 16, 1997.
NAMB President Robert E. Reccord was presented a plaque commemorating his leadership during that period, as well as a limited-edition bronze sculpture depicting Jesus healing a blind man. Several trustees and staff members also shared their reflections on the agency and its people as NAMB was formed and developed.
In lieu of his traditional president’s report, Reccord gave each of the trustees a compact disc of a message he delivered during the previous week’s “Church on the Cutting Edge” conference in Houston that described a number of challenges and opportunities being faced by churches in the 21st century. The message is also available via streaming video — along with other conference sessions — through a link from NAMB’s www.namb.net home page.
In other business, Reccord announced appointments to a committee that will examine how to address churches started with NAMB and other Southern Baptist financial assistance that later decide to discontinue being cooperating Southern Baptists. The committee will include three NAMB staff members, three trustees and three executive directors of state conventions.