FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–A dramatic signing of the Baptist Faith and Message and the passing of a resolution urging Texas Baptists to defeat a proposal at their upcoming state convention highlighted Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s semiannual board of trustees meeting Oct. 17-18.
Texas Baptist churches should reject a proposal to cut funding to Southern Baptist seminaries, trustees said in the resolution that was approved by acclamation.
The resolution encourages Texas Baptists to “consider the urgency of the situation” and “recognize the disadvantages of the proposed funding plan.”
The Baptist General Convention of Texas executive board voted recently to recommend redirecting approximately $5.3 million in gifts away from Southern Baptist Convention seminaries and agencies. The recommendation will be voted on at the BGCT’s annual meeting Oct. 30-31 in Corpus Christi.
Southwestern Seminary trustee chairman Miles Seaborn of Fort Worth called the resolution a response that was “absolutely necessary.”
“We felt that there needed to be a clear voice from the trustees as our feeling about this,” Seaborn said, “and the impropriety of trying to defund students in the seminary from all around the world. Texas Baptists have always been open-minded, broad-minded and supportive. This [BGCT] proposal just constricts them down into a narrow little theological direction.”
In introducing the resolution, Texas trustee Ralph Pulley said, “It is certainly appropriate that we continue to tell the Southwestern Seminary story to these autonomous Texas churches. It is a natural thing for us to address a resolution to the Texas churches. In view of the impact on Southwestern and our other fellow seminaries, we do not want to sit silent.”
In a move designed to show unity and make a statement, trustees answered the meeting’s roll call Oct. 17 by going to a table in the center of the meeting room, reciting a favorite Scripture verse and signing a copy of the revised faith statement.
Indiana trustee Sid West said as he went forward, “On this historic day, as I sign this historic document, I think of Ephesians 4:15: ‘Speak the truth in love.'”
Seaborn concluded the signing ceremony by saying, “We’ve signed this in good faith and good conscience before the Lord.”
BGCT leaders have cited as their main concerns changes to the Baptist Faith and Message introduction and the requirement that seminary professors sign the document agreeing to teach according and not contrary to its contents.
Trustees affirmed their expectation that seminary administrators would continue to secure the signatures of all elected and adjunct faculty.
Southwestern President Kenneth S. Hemphill said, “We will gladly respond to the signing which is clearly mandated in our bylaws.”
Southwestern’s bylaws have required faculty to sign the document since at least the early 1960s.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at www.sbcbaptistpress.org. Photo title: SEABORN SIGNS BF&M STATEMENT.