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Prayer lifted for mission boards amid respective controversies

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Looking to God and not to headlines, members of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee prayed Feb. 20 for the work of the SBC’s two mission boards.

Addressing controversies that have buffeted the International Mission Board and North American Mission Board in recent weeks, EC President Morris H. Chapman asked EC chairman and California pastor Rob Zinn to lead in a time of prayer for the two entities.

The IMB had called for the removal of one of its trustees over accountability issues, but the board’s executive committee called Feb. 15 for the request to be dropped in light of accountability guidelines to be proposed by a trustee committee.

NAMB, meanwhile, has challenged the accuracy and fairness of a Feb. 16 analysis piece in The Christian Index, newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention, alleging deficiencies in the entity’s work in evangelism and church planting and its retention of fulltime missionaries. NAMB also challenged the paper’s criticism of NAMB President Robert E. Reccord on outsourcing of NAMB initiatives and on his various speaking engagements.

Zinn acknowledged Southern Baptists’ love for the two mission boards in his prayer and that “we as a Southern Baptist people are bound together to do the work of missions and evangelism….

“Father, we’re very aware that what is printed is read by a lot of people, and a lot of people can spin it any way they want to spin in,” Zinn continued in prayer. “So Father, I pray tonight that You would put a hedge of protection around our two boards … around our two presidents and the trustees of those boards.

“And I pray, Father, that we who are Southern Baptists would be smart enough to want to believe the best before we believe anything negative. That, Father, we would be faithful to pray for those in leadership positions and that, Father, we would thank You that You know their hearts far better than anybody else….

“And, Father, we pray that as they both are working through issues … it would not hinder the support, it would not hinder the work that goes on…. Father, it is our prayer that even through this storm, You will show Yourself strong, Christ will be glorified, souls will be won and we’ll reach more people than we’ve ever reached before….”

Chapman commented after Zinn’s prayer, “There’s nothing in Southern Baptist life that can’t solved with God’s help. God help us always to realize that He is bigger than any little ripple about anything or any big ripple -– God has the answer. Let’s trust Him for it. Pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ [at IMB and NAMB] and know that the Lord Jesus will get the victory in the coming days.”

In other business, the Executive Committee:

— approved a 2006-07 Cooperative Program Allocation budget of $195,948,423 for recommendation to the Southern Baptist Convention during its June 13-14 annual meeting in Greensboro, N.C.

The proposed budget would continue to allocate 50 percent of receipts to the International Mission Board and 22.79 percent to the North American Mission Board. The percentage allocated to the seminaries remains 21.4 percent. According to the seminary enrollment formula, Southwestern Seminary would receive 4.89 percent; Southern Seminary, 4.65 percent; New Orleans Seminary, 4.47 percent; Southeastern Seminary, 4.13 percent; Golden Gate Seminary, 1.76 percent; and Midwestern Seminary, 1.50 percent.

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission would continue to receive 1.49 percent of the budget, and .76 percent would go to GuideStone Financial Resources for its ministry to retired ministers whose annuities were underfunded during their careers.

The SBC Operating Budget, encompassing the SBC annual meeting costs, the work of the convention between annual meetings and the Executive Committee, would receive 3.32 percent of the CP budget. The Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives would receive .24 percent.

— approved a 3.4 percent increase for the staff salary structure, effective Oct. 1.

— employed for EC audits the firm of Lattimore, Black, Morgan & Cain, P.C. The firm will conduct audits for three years, beginning with the 2005-06 fiscal year which ends Sept. 30.

— elected John G. Blackman Jr., a vice president at SunTrust Bank in Nashville, Tenn., and Michael (Mike) L. Trammell, pastor of Mt. Airy (Md.) Baptist Church, to three-year terms as Southern Baptist Foundation trustees.

— approved a $5 million fundraising campaign by the North American Mission Board as part of its “New Orleans Area Hope” volunteer initiative to rebuild and rehabilitate homes and churches damaged by Hurricane Katrina. The fundraising campaign will begin in March and continue through February 2008.

— approved a $13 million five-year fundraising campaign by Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, named “Partners for the Future,” to enhance academic operations, improve facilities and to build its academic program through endowments of faculty chairs.

— received notification that Barry C. McCarty will serve again as chief parliamentarian during this June’s annual meeting.

Also during the meeting, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission presented Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Seminary, with the ERLC’s Richard D. Land Distinguished Service Award.

Land, the current ERLC president whose name was added to the award’s title by the entity’s trustees in 2003, told the audience, “There is no one in the Southern Baptist Convention who is more dedicated to the Lord Jesus Christ, our Lord’s Kingdom, God’s Word, the Lord’s Church and to the people called Southern Baptist than Paige Patterson. There has been no one willing to pay a greater price to stand for the absolute truthfulness of God’s Word than Dr. Paige Patterson.”

The certificate for the award described Patterson as a “trusted leader whom God used mightily in the resurgence of Southern Baptist beliefs based on the inerrancy of Holy Scripture.” The certificate also cited Patterson’s faithfulness in “boldly proclaiming the Word of God in all parts of the world as a compassionate pastor, a respected scholar, and a prolific writer” and a “servant of Jesus Christ who is intensely devoted to evangelism and the global mission task of the church.”

In receiving the award, Patterson said he was accepting the honor on behalf of the “hundreds of thousands of people in the Southern Baptist Convention who have paid a much heavier price than I … the pastors of thousands and thousands of churches and the laypeople who work by their side who really are the ones who have made a difference in our world and in our denomination.”

Previous recipients of the Distinguished Service Award include Gary Frost (2002), James T. Draper Jr. (1993), Carl F.H. Henry (1992), Charles Colson (1991), Billy Graham (1983) and former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalyn Carter (1982).
With reporting by Dwayne Hastings.