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Rankin apologizes for questioning Chapman’s Great Commission commitment

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–An apology has been extended by International Mission Board President Jerry Rankin to SBC Executive Committee President Morris H. Chapman for stating that Chapman viewed cooperation among Southern Baptists as more important than fulfilling the Great Commission.

Rankin, in a post to his weblog March 15, wrote that “I made a major mistake” in an earlier blog that “insinuated he [Chapman] was not committed to the Great Commission.”

“I apologize and accept full responsibility for this egregious implication due to letting my passion for this topic not only erode objectivity in writing but to personalize the issue as a perceived attack on a friend and colleague,” Rankin wrote. “There is no question about Morris’ commitment to the Great Commission. He has always been a strong supporter of the IMB.” Rankin also stated that Chapman’s “passionate appeal” in his retirement announcement in February “for a renewed impetus on evangelism in the local church characterized what has been the priority of his life and leadership.”

Chapman, in a statement to Baptist Press March 16, said, “I have known Jerry for many years and am grateful for his faithful service to Southern Baptists with the International Mission Board. In reading his most recent blog entry, I appreciate that he retracted the personal remarks he had made in an earlier posting.”

Rankin, in the blog containing his apology, noted that “the point of the post” had been: “whatever is priority determines what we do and whether or not we are willing to change what we do” to “reflect Kingdom priorities.” The “primary issue,” Rankin wrote, is: “how can we do more to reach a lost world at home and abroad unless we are willing to make some changes in how things are done.”

Rankin, in his initial posting during the March 6-7 weekend, had referenced a Feb. 12 Baptist Press story about Chapman’s remarks during a luncheon at the Fellowship of State Executive Directors’ annual meeting in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Chapman, in his remarks, had affirmed the current allocation of SBC funding for the convention’s various entities. The problem of insufficient funding for missions, Chapman suggested, requires correcting an “apparent lack of understanding or care about the importance of tithing, or corporate church undesignated giving” within many local congregations.

Rankin, in the March 15 blog titled “Learning the Landmines of Blogging,” acknowledged, “I am as vulnerable as anyone, perhaps even more, of expressing an opinion without realizing how it is perceived by others. It is good to be reminded that communication is not what one says, but what the reader or hearer understand you to be saying. I’ve also learned that it is not necessary, and, in fact, is inappropriate to use individuals to make your point.”

Rankin also acknowledged that Chapman, as president of the SBC Executive Committee, is in a position where “it is absolutely essential he give priority to cooperation and the fair proportionate support of every entity. It would be unworthy for him to serve in his position and he would not have given the commendable leadership he has given these 18 years if he were to be partial and show favoritism to any denominational entity at the expense of others.”

Rankin wrote that he and Chapman “have had respectful personal discussions on our different perspectives, and I apologize once again for expressing that difference in public statements that would be perceived as criticism against him. I also apologize to the state executives whom I implied shared his sentiments. Several have notified me that they did not agree with the comments while there were others who apparently did not perceive the implications of Dr. Chapman’s position. The point of my post was not about his position, nor the state executives, but about all of us and every aspect of the SBC.”
Compiled by Baptist Press editor Art Toalston. For Baptist Press’ Feb. 12 story on Morris H. Chapman’s remarks to the Fellowship of State Executive Directors, go to www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=32274.

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