News Articles

SBC position on BWA unchanged; both sides agree to ongoing talks

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)—Representatives of the Southern Baptist Convention and Baptist World Alliance met April 13, issuing a joint press release after the 19 participants had spent six hours together at the SBC Building in Nashville, Tenn.

Although the SBC Executive Committee recommendation for the SBC to withdraw from the Baptist World Alliance remains unchanged, the three-paragraph press release noted two areas of agreement:

— a yearly dialogue.

— the possibility of the SBC rejoining the BWA if issues can be resolved “in the not too distant future.”

As stated by the press release:

— “It was resolved that a similar representative group of the leadership of the BWA and SBC meet at least once per year to continue an ongoing dialogue.”

— “All participants expressed the desire that if the SBC messengers vote for disaffiliation from the BWA, further issues of concern to the respective organizations be resolved in such a way that at some point in the not too distant future the Southern Baptist Convention may choose once again to become a fully participatory member of the Baptist World Alliance.”

The press release also noted, “The meeting encompassed a full and frank discussion of concerns, conducted in a warm and mutually respectful spirit.”

The recommendation by the Executive Committee for the SBC to withdraw from the BWA will be voted on by messengers from SBC churches attending the convention’s June 15-16 annual meeting in Indianapolis.

Co-chairs of the SBC-BWA April 13 meeting in Nashville, according to the press release, were BWA President Billy Kim of Korea, pastor of Central Baptist Church in Suwon, and Morris H. Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee and chairman of its nine-member Baptist World Alliance study committee.

In addition to Kim, the 10 BWA participants in the meeting were Denton Lotz, BWA General Secretary; four BWA vice presidents, David Coffey of England, Bruce Milne of Canada, Elaine Smith of Washington, D.C., and John Sundquist of Michigan; and four BWA regional leaders, Theo Angelov of Bulgaria, Alistair Brown of England, Fausto Vasconcelos of Brazil and Ian Chapman of Virginia.

In addition to Chapman, the nine SBC participants included seven other members of the BWA study committee: James T. Draper Jr., president of LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, Tenn.; Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board in Richmond, Va.; Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; Tom Elliff, a former SBC president and pastor of First Southern Baptist Church, Del City, Okla.; Gary A. Smith, chairman of the Executive Committee and pastor of Fielder Road Baptist Church, Arlington, Texas; retired Judge Paul Pressler of Houston; and Bob Sorrell, president, The Associate, Inc., a ministry to pastors, Cordova, Tenn. A ninth SBC participant was D. August Boto, the Executive Committee’s vice president for convention policy.

The proposal for the SBC to withdraw from the BWA was approved by the Executive Committee by a 62-10 vote during its Feb. 16-17 meeting in Nashville. The action was recommended by the SBC study committee, which cited various theological concerns in an initial report on Dec. 19, 2003, and in a second report presented to the Executive Committee during its February meeting.

The SBC would fulfill its $300,000 allocation to the BWA in the current SBC budget, which runs through September, under the recommendation to be presented to the annual meeting in June.

For a number of years, the SBC allocation to the BWA had been $425,000 per year. The allocation was reduced by $125,000 during last June’s SBC annual meeting in Phoenix to be redirected to a new SBC “Kingdom Relationships” global initiative in conjunction with the SBC-wide Empowering Kingdom Growth movement. The committee anticipates that the other $300,000 now will be similarly redirected.
The joint news release is posted at Baptist2Baptist.net.