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SBC DIGEST: Louisiana Baptists consider broadening definition of cooperating church, SWBTS receives gifts from two churches

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated.

Louisiana Messengers to vote on broader definition of ‘cooperating church’
By Brian Blackwell, Baptist Message staff writer

WOODWORTH, La. (BP) – Executive Board members adopted a proposed amendment to the Louisiana Baptist Convention Articles of Incorporation, Sept. 27, that allows a church to contribute solely to state causes and still be defined as a church in cooperation with the LBC.

Previously a church was required to support Southern Baptist causes in order to be in friendly cooperation with the LBC.

In his report, Louisiana Baptist Executive Director Steve Horn told the Board that 26 of about 1,600 Louisiana Baptist congregations have instructed that their cooperative missions and ministries contributions must be used only in the state with none of their gifts to be forwarded to the Southern Baptist Convention.

The moves by the 26 Louisiana Baptist churches adds to a growing trend among state Baptist convention congregations:

— Earlier this year, the Missouri Baptist Convention adopted a “Plan B” which allows churches to withhold funds from selected SBC entities without withdrawing from CP support altogether, according to the Missouri Baptist Convention’s newspaper, The Pathway. About 217 congregations were choosing to withhold funds from the SBC as late as Aug. 2.

— The Pathway also reported that the Georgia Baptist Mission Board (formerly the Georgia Baptist Convention) allows congregations to exclude up to two SBC entities and still be in friendly cooperation with the state convention. The Christian Index, the news journal of Georgia Baptists, reported that at the end of July more than 180 congregations in the state were bypassing the SBC and that “others have changed their allocations.”

“We are trying to strike that balance of honoring their requests while at the same time continuing to promote the ideal that we are better together with our Southern Baptist partners,” Horn said during the board meeting, Sept. 27, at Tall Timbers Baptist Conference Center. “By supporting this adjustment, you will be helping us to keep these churches engaged in Louisiana Baptist life while continuing to pray with them and encouraging them to reengage in Southern Baptist life. And I fear that disallowing this could cause us to permanently lose these now cooperating churches.”

The proposed amendment now will be voted on by messengers to the LBC Annual Meeting, Nov. 15, in the worship center of Calvary Baptist Church, Alexandria. See the related amendment notice in this issue.

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Prestonwood gifts $100,000 to Southwestern Seminary, announces matching gift from Second Baptist Houston
By SWBTS staff

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) — Because of the “love and affection” he and his church have for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, gave a $100,000 gift to the institution, seminary officials announced today.

Joined by Southwestern’s interim leadership team of O.S. Hawkins and David S. Dockery, Graham said a matching gift would be given by Second Baptist Church of Houston, he announced on behalf of the church’s pastor, Ed Young.

“We are so encouraged by this latest sign of God’s provision for our seminary during this time of transition and financial challenge,” said Hawkins, senior advisor and ambassador-at-large of the seminary. “I want to thank my dear friend, Jack Graham, and his wonderful congregation for this generous gift, as well as Ed Young and his congregation. We deeply appreciate gifts of all sizes from individuals and churches and other friends in our Southern Baptist family. Together, these gifts will ensure a strong future for our seminary to provide conservative theological education for God-called men and women.”

In a statement, Young said, “I’m delighted that my congregation is able to join my friend Jack Graham and Prestonwood in giving this special gift to Southwestern Seminary. Although I’m not a graduate, Southwestern has been a blessing to our congregation, and I know how important Southwestern is to our state and beyond in providing doctrinally sound theological education. With David Dockery and O.S. Hawkins leading Southwestern, I’m hopeful about the future of the school. I invite other churches to join us in this worthy cause.”

Dockery, interim president, also expressed his gratitude to Prestonwood and Second Baptist Church Houston.

“Southwestern Seminary is grateful for the confidence placed in our institution by these two great churches, the leadership of these pastors, and for their generous support during this time of special need,” he said. “We are working tirelessly to ensure that confidence is well placed. We also ask Southwesterners and other friends to join our faculty, students, and staff in prayer for the seminary with Psalm 90:17 as our theme for this year. We are hopeful about the future of Southwestern Seminary.”

Graham said Prestonwood wanted “to be a part of investing in the future of the seminary and to do something now that is just the beginning of what I believe is going to be an incredible recovery of stability and strength of our seminary going forward.” Graham grew up in Fort Worth with Hawkins as the two were teenagers at Sagamore Hill Baptist Church and mentored by the late Fred Swank.

Graham, Hawkins, and Dockery are all graduates of Southwestern Seminary.

Graham said he was “excited” to have Hawkins and Dockery in the interim leadership roles at Southwestern. “This is stability. This is strength. This is maturity,” he said of the longtime Southern Baptist leaders.

Graham encouraged other “pastors, regardless of the size of the church, to financially come alongside Southwestern during these days supporting our seminary with surplus funds with which they may be blessed as they near the year’s end.” He noted he and his wife, Deb, “want to be a part of this personally as well.”

“It’s about building a new generation of young men and women who are going to serve Christ around the world,” he added. “And so, we’re investing in the seminary, but that means we’re investing in young men and women, really, men and women of all ages, who hear the call of God and want to get as prepared as possible to take the message of Jesus to the world.”

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