News Articles

Nixing a study of ‘unbiblical’ worship among Executive Committee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The issue of charismatic worship abuses in Southern Baptist churches is not likely to go away, the president of the Georgia Baptist Convention told fellow members of the SBC Executive Committee after a vote against studying “the effects and influence” of such practices.

Gerald Harris, president of the Georgia convention and pastor of Eastside Baptist Church in Marietta, said, “I really believe somewhere at some time this is an issue that needs to be addressed.”

The Executive Committee vote was in response to a motion referred from the SBC’s annual meeting last June. The motion did not specifically use the word, “charismatic,” but Harris, though speaking in a low-key fashion, did.

Among the key charismatic-related concerns among Georgia Baptists, Harris said, is the “Brownsville revival” afoot at the Brownsville Assembly of God in Pensacola, Fla., with manifestations including uncontrollable laughing, dog-like barking and being “slain in the Spirit.”

The Brownsville phenomenon is “drawing churches away from our convention. It is causing a great deal of disruption in some of the [state’s Baptist] associations,” Harris said.

Perhaps the SBC committee studying the convention’s Baptist Faith and Message confessional statement might address charismatic worship abuses under the BFM section on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, Harris said in his statement to the Executive Committee.

The Georgia convention fell just short of the two-thirds vote needed last November to adopt a constitutional amendment to restrict churches with charismatic practices from its fellowship. The provisions garnered nearly a 61.5 percent vote.

In other business, the Executive Committee voted to give its administrative subcommittee the responsibility “of approving or declining to approve, on behalf of the Executive Committee,” a request by LifeWay Christian Resources, under SBC Bylaw 33, for approval to acquire a controlling interest in an Internet service company. The Christian-based for-profit company is yet to be determined by LifeWay. The agency’s officials said a transaction could take place in 30 to 60 days.

A resolution of appreciation was approved for William M. “Bill” Pinson Jr., executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, who is retiring.

Requests for authorization to borrow funds were approved for LifeWay Christian Resources for a loan to support a master facilities plan for $7.9 million and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary for a loan of $3.67 million for construction and renovation of three facilities for student housing. A fund-raising activity request, for a capital campaign, was approved for the International Mission Board for its Missionary Learning Center.

In other matters referred from the Atlanta convention, the Executive Committee declined to:

— take action requesting that SBC entities not schedule meetings in conflict with Crossover evangelistic events in connection with each year’s annual meeting, noting that “necessary business will require unavoidable scheduling conflicts.”

— recommend term-limit changes for officers of the convention, “affirming the wisdom and sufficiency of the historic provision of Article V of the SBC Constitution,” regarding two referrals from the Atlanta convention.

— recommend changing the SBC Constitution, Article III, section 2 to qualify messengers only according to the local church’s percentage contribution to the Cooperative Program, affirming the current method of messenger participation.

— recommend to the convention that a special offering for world hunger be established as a regular item during the annual meeting. The committee also will recommend that special offerings not be taken during the annual meetings.

— act on a request that annual meeting dates be reconsidered to avoid public school conflicts, noting “any specific week will represent a conflict for some.”

— print or provide through computer software a list of pastors and churches by state and town in the SBC annual because “a list of Southern Baptist church addresses arranged by state and town is already printed biannually” by LifeWay Christian Resources.

— recommend the appointment of a special committee to study ways to make the Annuity Board more effective, instead to utilize the trustees and staffs of the Annuity Board and the Executive Committee and the procedures already in place to conduct any study necessary.

The Executive Committee agreed with referrals to:

— maximize the use of appropriate technology to continue to efficiently serve Southern Baptists through the administrative process of the Executive Committee.

— display both the Christian and American flags in a prominent and appropriate place on the platform during Southern Baptist Convention annual meetings.

— continue to evaluate and improve seating arrangements for handicapped people at annual meetings.

— consider northern cities as possible sites for the annual meeting, which is already part of the current site selection policy.

— “with the consent of the recording secretary of the Convention and barring any unforseen complications,” print the president’s sermon and the convention sermon in the SBC Annual each year.

— continue studying, among other Cooperative Program issues, ways to make the missions focus of the Cooperative Program clearer.

The Executive Committee also voted to retain the current seminary funding formula through the Cooperative Program Allocation Budget year 2009-2010. The complex formula, based on enrollments, is used to distribute CP funds in the budget to the six seminaries operated by the SBC.