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Resolutions dominate business at Md./Del. Baptist convention

SOLOMON’S ISLAND, Md. (BP)–Apart from singing, sermons and reports, resolutions dominated business sessions of 407 messengers at the 162nd meeting of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, Nov. 10-11 in Solomon’s Island, Md.
Messengers re-elected Gary Glanville, pastor of Northwest Baptist Church, Reisterstown, Md., as convention president and passed a $5,368,876 budget for 1998.
The resolutions committee presented to the convention 20 statements, mostly addressing moral issues. All received approval, though messengers debated the wording of one that encouraged support of pastors.
Bylaw changes concerning how the convention handles resolutions also drew debate.
Two attempts to amend the resolution for pastors failed. Robert Wilson, pastor of Viers Mill Baptist Church in the Montgomery (Md.) Baptist Association, objected to the wording “pastors are God’s called men,” noting there are women pastors in the BCM/D. He offered an amendment to include women.
Rick Humphreys, pastor of Faith Southern Baptist Church, Elkton, Md., expressed his disgust “political correctness,” saying, “I want to be biblically correct. The resolution says it all.”
The amendment failed.
Another amendment, proposed by Phil Logan, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church, Huntingtown, Md., sought to broaden the resolution by addressing all ministerial staff, instead of just pastors.
Ken Cademartori, pastor of Mason-Dixon Baptist Church, New Freedom, Pa., objected to the amendment, stating, “We are changing the intent. Keep it as it is.”
Saying he did not feel slighted by a change to include all staff, Larry Eubanks, pastor of First Baptist Church, Frederick, Md., said, “I need church members to be in support of all staff.”
Other messengers said they felt pastors were significantly different from other church staff and deserved special support. “There is a difference between pastors and support staff,” Humphries said. H. Eiland, a messenger from Greenridge Baptist Church, Clarksburg, Md., said, “Our pastors are special people. They are not just part of the staff.”
John Draper, a messenger from Middle River Baptist Church, Baltimore, and director of missions for the Baltimore Baptist Association, asked if the convention was confusing a theological position that only men can be pastors with stating support for pastors.
Others said women and other staff should be included in the resolution. Jim Evans, minister of education and youth at Emmanuel Baptist Church, Huntingtown, Md., said, “to just basically say that we’re not going to encourage women or ministerial staff is, I think, inappropriate. … We all serve according to the call of God.”
The amendment failed and the resolution passed as it came from the committee.
Earlier in the session, messengers voted to change the way resolutions are handled, with the changes to take effect next year. Many convention-goers were frustrated at last year’s annual meeting because bylaw changes from the previous year had barred them from addressing issues. Consequently, several resolutions were referred to the convention’s general mission board for consideration. This year, messengers voted to remove the bylaw preventing the convention from accepting resolutions from the floor.
The new bylaw states that “only resolutions presented to the resolutions committee at least 45 days in advance of the Annual Meeting will be considered by the committee before the first session.” Messengers may present resolutions from the floor during the first session, so long as they give “justifiable” reasons for not meeting the 45-day rule. Resolutions will then be referred to the resolutions committee, which must give full consensus before presenting them to the body.
The new bylaw makes clear that resolutions express the “overwhelming” majority of messengers by requiring “an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the messengers present and voting.”
Calling the time frames restrictive, Cademartori attempted to amend the bylaw change. He sought to shrink the time frame from 45 days to 10 and to remove the two-thirds majority requirement for passage of a resolution. “I don’t want us to lose our freedom of expression,” he said. “Resolutions help us fulfill our prophetic role.”
Larry Steen, pastor of Westminster Baptist Church, Central (Md.) Baptist Association, agreed the convention should retain freedom of expression but said that the 45-day rule is necessary for the committee to compose and rewrite resolutions.
Charles Lawson, a messenger from Linthicum Baptist Church, Arundel (Md.) Baptist Association and chair of this year’s resolutions committee, said he supported Cademartori’s amendment. The committee received no input, he said, attributing the lack to the 45-day rule.
President Glanville called for a ballot vote after affirmative and negative raised hands appeared evenly divided. Later in the day, it was announced that the amendment had failed, 77 to 152.
Otherwise, messengers spoke against homosexual behavior, same-sex marriages, domestic partner benefits, pornography, partial-birth abortion, gambling, condom distribution in schools, violence, teaching evolution in schools and zoning laws that hinder churches.
The convention weighed in on the Disney boycott debate by declaring support for the actions of the Southern Baptist Convention taken last June during its annual meeting in Dallas.
Noting the passing of Mother Teresa, the Roman Catholic nun who ministered in Calcutta, India, the convention pledged to show “love and compassion toward those who are poor and needy.”
The convention also gave support to the True Love Waits sexual abstinence campaign and to the display of the Ten Commandments in public places, including courthouses and government offices.
Messengers expressed dismay that the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and called on the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission to work on a solution.
Noting that in many countries Christians face persecution, the convention offered prayer support for those Christians.
The convention also approved resolutions of appreciation for Dana Collett, former pastor of Covenant Baptist Church, Columbia, Md., who died this year; for schoolteachers; and for convention staff and elected officers.
In other business, all convention officers nominated received no opposition and recording secretaries cast unanimous ballots for the convention to elect them. Glanville received a traditional second term as president. John Gaugher, pastor of First Baptist Church, Perryville, Md., and Dan Spiker, pastor of First Baptist Church, Brunswick, Md., were elected as first and second vice presidents, respectively.
The $5,368,876 budget represents a 5.5 percent increase over 1997. Anticipated Cooperative Program receipts from the churches of $3.25 million will continue to be divided 51 percent for BCM/D work and 49 percent for national and international Southern Baptist causes after the preferred annuity item has been deducted.
Messengers approved changes in committee structures altering aspects of the general mission board reorganization adopted two years ago. The communications/public relations task group has now been raised to full committee status. The new visions allocations task group no longer exists. Its functions now reside with the administrative committee.
The committee on convention arrangements also was deleted. Its task of selecting the site of the convention, the preacher for the annual sermon and the music director will now be handled by the committee on order of business.
Baptist Family and Children’s Services trustees were removed as members of the general mission board, a change resulting from ongoing discussions concerning the relationship between the general mission board and the agency.
Next year’s meeting will be Nov. 9-10 at the Sheraton Hotel, Ocean City, Md.

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  • Ron Chaney