News Articles

NAMB’s national missionaries asked to affirm Baptist Faith & Message

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–The North American Mission Board is asking missionaries who receive 100 percent of their funding directly from that Southern Baptist missions entity to sign a statement affirming the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message.

However, the request of the 59 missionaries is not being made of the larger force of NAMB missionaries who are jointly funded by NAMB and state Baptist conventions, associations or churches.

The request, said Robert E. Reccord, NAMB president, is the “last step in a process we started 18 months ago to provide our employees with the opportunity for affirming the current Baptist Faith and Message.”

Reccord said NAMB, like the former Home Mission Board, “asks all missionary candidates, those who are directly funded and those who are jointly funded, during their appointment process to affirm the Baptist Faith and Message and to carry out their ministry in a manner consistent with the current edition of this confession of faith.

“In addition, last year we asked NAMB’s management and professional staff to affirm their support of the confession as well as their intent to carry out their responsibilities in a manner consistent with the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message,” Reccord explained. “Asking our national missionaries to do the same is the logical final step.”

However, Reccord said, “We are not asking this of jointly funded missionaries who are already in the field and were appointed prior to the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message.” Jointly funded missionaries are legally employees of state conventions, associations or churches. The 59 national missionaries are NAMB employees.

Reccord noted that NAMB’s funding of missionaries is conceptually and significantly different from the SBC’s International Mission Board.

“Because NAMB shares its mission field with state conventions and associations, the vast majority of our missionaries are jointly funded unless their responsibilities transcend state lines or involve a national ministry like the United Nations. This creative concept of cooperating together to leverage our missionary funding dollars was actually birthed more than 50 years ago in the first cooperative agreement between the Home Mission Board and the Baptist General Convention of Texas,” Reccord said.

Reccord said the missionaries are being contacted by telephone to explain the request, which they will receive by mail in early March. That mailing will include a letter from Reccord and a form asking the missionary to indicate his or her agreement or disagreement with the statement: “I have read and am in agreement with the current edition of the Baptist Faith and Message.” The form asks them to check “Yes” or “No” and “if No, cite and explain any area of difference.”

The form then asks the missionary, whether or not he or she has some disagreement with the Baptist Faith and Message, to sign a statement agreeing “to carry out my responsibilities in accordance with and not contrary to the current Baptist Faith and Message as adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention.”

The forms, which are the same NAMB staff completed last year, will be reviewed individually in accordance with the same process put in place for NAMB management and professional staff, Reccord said. “We see this as an opportunity for our national missionaries to join our staff in affirming the doctrinal guide approved by those who provide our support,” he said.

In the letter to the national NAMB missionaries, Reccord explains the history of SBC entities’ support of the Baptist Faith and Message goes back to 1963.

“At the annual meeting of the SBC, Dr. James Sullivan made a motion urging the elected trustees responsible for each of our agencies to ‘be diligent in seeing that the programs assigned to those agencies by the Convention were carried out in a manner consistent with and not contrary to the SBC Baptist Faith and Message.’ As a result, the Home Mission Board, and now the North American Mission Board, has utilized the Baptist Faith and Message as our doctrinal guide.”

The letter continues, “Since 1986, we have specifically asked missionary personnel candidates, during the appointment process, to affirm the Baptist Faith and Message and to carry out their ministry in a manner consistent with this confession of faith.”

Reccord told Baptist Press he believes “each Southern Baptist agency has a responsibility and expectation of Southern Baptists to assume that its employees subscribe to the biblical principles which, by voted action of the SBC, states the convention’s convictions. It would seem Southern Baptists would rejoice in the assurance of biblical alignment for the mission before us.”

    About the Author

  • Martin King