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SBC, BWA leaders meet in ‘candid discussion’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Members of a special study committee of Southern Baptist Convention leaders met with two Baptist World Alliance officials Oct. 29 in a “candid” discussion and agreed to meet early in 1998.
The study committee, requested by SBC President Tom Elliff at the Executive Committee meeting in Nashville, Tenn., in September, was asked to examine “objectives, doctrinal positions and operational procedures” of the BWA. Elliff told the Executive Committee that “recently … questions have arisen regarding perceived changes in the mission, focus and doctrinal positions of the BWA” in asking the Executive Committee chairman, James Merritt, to appoint an ad hoc study committee.
The study committee’s purpose is to “assess the manner in which we (SBC) should support their (BWA) work in the coming years,” Elliff said. The SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget calls for the SBC to give the BWA $417,838 for 1997-98, which is more than one-third of the BWA total budget.
At the Oct. 29 meeting in Nashville, the study committee “welcomed the opportunity to meet with Dr. (Denton) Lotz and Dr. (Nilson) Fanini,” Morris H. Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the Executive Committee, told Baptist Press. “The meeting was very informative, especially for the Executive Committee members appointed to this committee. Since they have not been directly involved in the BWA, they were able to gain significant knowledge about the organization and its purpose.”
Denton Lotz is general secretary of the McLean, Va.,-based BWA and Nilson Fanini, a pastor from Brazil, is BWA president.
Chapman said the discussion was “candid and established a good basis for further dialogue. It was agreed we will meet again early in 1998. The committee has (also) invited BWA vice presidents and members of the executive staff chosen by Dr. Lotz to attend the next meeting.”
Lotz told Baptist Press, “We had frank and honest discussions and were pleased with the cordial spirit in which the discussions took place. Dr. Fanini has invited the special committee to the BWA headquarters for continuing the dialogue on issues of concern.”
Chapman was named by Merritt to chair the eight-member committee. Other committee members are: Elliff, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church, Del City, Okla.; Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board; James T. Draper Jr., president of the Sunday School Board; Paige Patterson, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina; and three members of the Executive Committee: Joe Reynolds, a Houston attorney; Gary Smith, pastor from Arlington, Texas; and Bob Sorrell, associate pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, suburban Memphis, Tenn.
The BWA is a fellowship of 191 Baptist unions and conventions comprising a membership of more than 42 million baptized believers and a community of more than 100 million Baptists worldwide, BWA officials said.

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  • Herb Hollinger