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Okla. exec’s statement affirms Burleson’s in-state leadership

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Anthony Jordan, executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, released a statement Jan. 12 affirming the service within Oklahoma of a pastor now at the center of a controversy with trustees of the International Mission Board.

IMB trustees, during a Jan. 11 executive session, initiated an action to ask the Southern Baptist Convention to remove Burleson as a trustee over “issues involving broken trust and resistance to accountability, not Burleson’s opposition to policies recently enacted by the board,” according to a three-paragraph statement issued by trustee chairman Tom Hatley, an Arkansas pastor.

“The trustees consider this a rare and grievous action,” Hatley’s statement continued, “but one that was absolutely necessary for the board to move forward in its duties as prescribed by the SBC.”

Jordan, in his statement, noted:

“While the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma is not privileged to firsthand knowledge regarding the actions taken by the IMB board of trustees concerning Wade Burleson, we can speak to the outstanding service Wade Burleson has and continues to provide to our state convention. As a current member of the BGCO board of directors and as a past state convention president, Wade has demonstrated excellent leadership and integrity while exemplifying a passion for reaching the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Burleson served as BGCO president from 2003-05.

Burleson, who was elected to a four-year trustee term by SBC messengers last year, was reporting on his encounters with trustees during the board’s Jan. 9-11 meeting in Richmond, Va., via his online weblog, or “blog,” kerussocharis.blogspot.com. A blog is a type of Internet journal that is frequently updated with personal views intended for public consumption. Burleson posted entries on his blog after the trustee action Jan. 11, and, earlier, on Monday and Tuesday of the board meeting. Two men who also have blogs but are not IMB trustees gave Internet reports of the meeting, too.

The impetus for the meeting reports by Burleson and the other two men was their opposition to missionary personnel policies, which the trustees adopted during their Nov. 14-17 meeting in Huntsville, Ala. The policies involved believer’s baptism by immersion and the use of a “private prayer language,” which also was described as “glossolalia (speaking in tongues).” Burleson, on his blog, has contended that the policies are overly restrictive, even among some Baptists who hold to the inerrancy of Scripture.

The afternoon of Jan. 11, Burleson released a six-paragraph statement to Baptist Press stating in part, “I have yet to be presented with specific allegations but I am willing to respond to the particulars of these allegations should they materialize.

“In recent days I have expressed deep concern with a precedent set by certain IMB Board members who voted to establish IMB missionary policies that reach beyond the guidelines of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

“Secondly, I have also questioned and brought to the attention of the full board the inappropriateness of certain IMB board members, who in violation of IMB board guidelines, have held private caucuses to develop and craft IMB motions and policy.”

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