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Rankin, Reccord encourage Texans to stand by SBC missions outreach

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–International Mission Board President Jerry Rankin encouraged Southern Baptists in Texas to stand by their missionaries and the Cooperative Program following the announcement of a new global missions network proposed by leaders of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

“Rather than diverting missions gifts to create and maintain a new institution that duplicates work already being done by other entities, we encourage Southern Baptists in Texas to stand by their missionaries and press forward with them in taking the good news of salvation to a lost world,” Rankin said in a prepared statement. “We are confident that Southern Baptists in Texas will continue to channel their gifts to the SBC through the Cooperative Program and to give generously to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.”

The BGCT administrative committee unanimously endorsed a recommendation from the state’s Missions Review and Initiatives Committee concerning the creation of a new world missions network.

The new missions agency would be established to help churches, Baptist associations, institutions and individuals fulfill their missions calling through short-term and long-term missions endeavors nationally and globally.

The report stated the new missions agency would “work closely with existing Baptist agencies, such as the Baptist World Alliance, the International Mission Board and North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Global Missions and other appropriate missions agencies.”

“Texas Baptists are interested in a bold new vision, not recreating what already exists through traditional missions sending agencies,” BGCT Executive Director Charles Wade said in a report on the BGCT’s website. “This world missions network would create a way to connect churches and institutions with needs, opportunities and resources.”

“The New Testament teaches that the church is at the center of missions,” Wade told The Baptist Standard. “Texas Baptists need fluid and flexible structures that can respond to the moving of the Spirit, enabling and equipping churches to fulfill their missions calling. The world missions network can provide that kind of church-directed missions.”

Rankin noted that Southern Baptists already have a way to do that through the IMB.

“Southern Baptists in Texas already have — in the International Mission Board — an excellent network for personalized involvement,” Rankin said. “The IMB’s role is to facilitate churches, associations and state conventions in their efforts to be obedient to the Great Commission. About 1,300 of 5,300 IMB missionaries are from Texas, and last year churches in Texas gave almost $25.8 million to missions through CP and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. The IMB already assists thousands of congregations in Texas through focused missions projects, people group adoptions and training and coordinating volunteer teams.

“And God is blessing Southern Baptist efforts through the IMB in the most remarkable ways,” Rankin added. “In 2001, Southern Baptist missionaries reported 395,773 baptisms and 5,775 new churches. The number of people groups being reached by Southern Baptist missionaries has tripled in just the past five years. We are grateful that Texas Baptists so faithfully sustain their missionaries by praying for them and working with them in personalized projects. Because of their partnership, God’s glory is known in the far corners of the earth, in places it might not ever have reached otherwise.”

Robert E. Reccord, president of NAMB, said he found the BGCT’s announcement laced with irony.

“The report focuses on the development of a networking philosophy to enhance missions and missions involvement,” Reccord said. “This seems ironic, because such a network was established in 1845 when the Southern Baptist Convention was launched. There is a statement in the [BGCT] report that ‘the World Missions Network opens the door to greater missions involvement for every church and individual.’ Yet that is exactly the historic position and purpose of both North American and International [Mission Boards] of the Southern Baptist Convention.”

Reccord said throughout NAMB’s dealing with the BGCT, the state convention leaders have expressed on numerous occasions a concern of duplication in ministries and emphases between NAMB and the BGCT.

“Again, it is ironic that now this report seems to increase duplication through its direction and action already taken by the BGCT,” Reccord noted. “These actions include becoming a chaplaincy endorsing entity, which has historically been reserved for national denominational entities; producing and distributing literature and materials; deployment of mission personnel, not only in the Texas but throughout North America and the world; the duplication in seminary education, coupled with the negative designation of funding to long-established Southern Baptist seminaries.”

Reccord said the report seems in many ways to ignore the historic role distinctions given by the Southern Baptist Convention. NAMB has experienced an unfortunate significant change in the relationship with the BGCT based on their previous decision to retain Cooperative Program funding in the state, Record said.

“Numerous BGCT leaders have stated that the retained funds were administering more efficiently a portion of Texas funds that would be returned to Texas through the Cooperative Agreement from the North American Mission Board,” Reccord said. “However, it has been pointed out to BGCT leadership that that is an inaccurate comprehension of the philosophy of cooperative agreements. It is not the state’s money that is returned to any given state. Instead, it is funds representing gifts of Southern Baptists across North America who are contributing to a coordinated missions strategy for the continent. In addition, those funds are not the state’s funds, but that of the churches of the state, channeled through the state convention.”

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  • Todd Starnes