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SBC Executive Committee leader voices challenge to proposed Texas defunding

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Responding to Texas Baptist defunding proposals targeting the Southern Baptist Convention, SBC leader Morris H. Chapman noted:

“One thing we know for certain. The BGCT is systematically attempting to influence Southern Baptist churches in Texas to forsake their loyalty to the SBC.”

Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee, devoted his report to the Texas leaders’ proposed defunding of various SBC entities during the opening session of the Executive Committee’s Sept. 18-19 meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

The Executive Committee additionally voted to schedule action on a resolution challenging the proposed cuts Sept. 19. The resolution’s text will appear in Baptist Press Sept. 20.

The cuts, if approved by the BGCT executive board in late September and at the BGCT annual meeting in late October, would slice $4.3 million from Texas Baptists’ support of the SBC’s six seminaries, $706,000 from the Executive Committee and $345,000 from the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

Chapman, in his report to the Executive Committee, said BGCT leaders have not stated whether the proposed cuts will join the five budget options currently available to churches “or if this will be the only plan for Texas churches to send their gifts through the BGCT.”

If Texas churches are given only the defunding option, “then the BGCT will have managed to destroy the partnership that has existed between the SBC and the BGCT for 72 years,” Chapman said, in referencing 1928 SBC proceedings recorded as delineating the working relationship between the SBC and state Baptist conventions.

“While the BGCT is starting down the path of creating a societal system, perhaps even for the purpose of declaring itself a national convention,” Chapman said, “we are prayerful that there is a way to continue working together for the good of the kingdom and the glory of our Lord Jesus.”

Using the traditional Cooperative Program channel of support in Texas, the SBC receives 33 cents from every dollar given by the churches while the BGCT keeps 67 percent of CP funds collected. Chapman noted that “63 percent of the gifts from the churches continues to flow through the traditional CP track.”

If the traditional channel is severed, Southern Baptist churches in Texas will be left with two options, Chapman said:

— “Churches in Texas may wish to give through the SBTC, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. This convention is supportive of the Southern Baptist Convention and sends 50 percent [of undesignated receipts] to SBC missions and ministries through the Cooperative Program.”

— “Churches in Texas may send undesignated gifts directly to the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention,” Chapman said. “These undesignated gifts are considered Cooperative Program funds. They are distributed to the various entities of the SBC in accordance with CP percentages adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention.”

Chapman also stated: “If the BGCT refuses to let the churches in Texas give to the traditional Cooperative Program, and/or if it fails to promote the Cooperative Program as a means of supporting world missions in cooperation with SBC, then the Southern Baptist Convention will be compelled to assist the churches directly.”

Chapman voiced thanks “on behalf of the Southern Baptist Convention [to] all Southern Baptist churches in Texas that are committed to remaining faithful in their giving to world missions through the SBC Cooperative Program.” He added, “I would not want to miss this opportunity to commend all the state conventions that are remaining true to our historic partnership.”

Chapman also announced that “continuing updates and resource information about current issues in the Southern Baptist Convention” will be the focus of a new Internet site, www.Baptist2Baptist.net, to be launched Oct. 1.

Voicing confidence in God’s provision in all matters, Chapman reassured, “There is no reason to despair over dollars. God is on his throne and he will pour out his blessings upon his people if they remain faithful.”

Chapman noted, “The difference between most Southern Baptists and dissident voices for liberal causes is what they believe and/or what they do not believe biblically,” and he encouraged Baptists to seek to learn the hearts of their leaders, suggesting such inquiries as:

— “Do you believe salvation comes by faith in Christ and him alone? Is there any other way to be saved?”

— “Do you believe the Bible to be God’s absolute truth in all matters to which it speaks?”

— “Do you believe the narratives of Scripture to be historically and factually accurate?”

— “Do you believe every Christian should be a soul-winner?”

— “What is your passion in life?”

“If a person is truthful, these questions, and others like them, will reveal the condition of an individual’s heart before God,” Chapman said. “The difference is in the belief system.”