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SBCV responds to ‘false’ charges; announces first statewide mailing

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–A statement charging employees of the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia with daily attempts to recruit Southern Baptist churches outside its organization has been characterized as “patently false” by the SBCV’s Executive Director/Treasurer, Doyle Chauncey.

“This accusation is neither new nor unique,” Chauncey said. “But it is still patently false.”

The accusation in question appears in the fall 2000 newsletter published by the recently formed Virginia Baptists Committed (VBC) which has ties to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) and is a clone of Texas Baptists Committed, the dissident moderate group that supported the Baptist General Convention of Texas decision earlier this month to drastically cut funding to SBC seminaries and agencies.

Chauncey explained the SBCV has been the target of many such “untruths” and said he “regrets such campaigns of negativity from those on the fringe of Southern Baptist life who assail our integrity.”

After noting how much money the Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV) gives annually to the SBC Cooperative Program and after calling Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia “the most favored friends of the SBC,” the newsletter states: “Employees and friends of SBCV work every day to draw churches to disassociate from the General Association.”

Chauncey said the SBCV has a policy “that our employees do not engage in such activity, church recruitment or attacks. Frankly, I am not aware of any pastor who would waste his time on such endeavors. We all have much more important things to do, and dealing with falsehoods is a distraction from our ministry.”

Chauncey said many churches do call for information and advice, “But we do not offer that without solicitation from a church. And if our ministry as a Southern Baptist convention is so unconscionable, then why are we averaging a new church joining us every nine days?” he said.

The newsletter also refers to the VBC and the General Association in a symbiotic context, stating, “We (the VBC and BGAV) send money, huge amounts of money” (to the SBC).” It then pejoratively refers to SBC leaders as “fundamentalists” and complains about moderates not being appointed to the Committee on Committees of the SBC. It also said SBC institutions are “less and less reflective of what Virginia Baptists are all about.”

SBCV President John Marks added that, “These unfounded accusations sadden my heart and I’d like to state emphatically that they are not true. I request that these fellow Christians in the Lord cease their proliferation of this kind of information.”

Marks, pastor of Kingsland Baptist Church in Richmond, denied the SBC is favoring the SBC of Virginia, but noted that if it were true the national convention would have good reason to “because of the way our churches financially support the Cooperative Program.”

Statistical comparisons between BGAV and the SBCV indicate the following: On average, an individual SBCV church gives approximately 2.4 times more money to the SBC than a BGAV church. SBCV churches comprises about 20 percent of all the Southern Baptist churches in Virginia, yet they give more than 40 percent of the Cooperative Program funds received in Nashville from all Southern Baptist churches in the state.

“What makes the accusation so unsavory is that we are being accused of the very same activity of others in Virginia who are not friendly toward us,” Chauncey said.

He noted a fax received at an SBCV church without benefit of letterhead titled “What Does Your Church Lose By Leaving the BGAV?” The fax erroneously insinuates that a pastor’s Annuity Board funds will be jeopardized as well as a church’s status with the Internal Revenue Service, when a church aligns with the SBCV.

“We are also in receipt of a letter apparently sent to all Southern Baptist churches in Virginia from the state chapter of the CBF that is a blatant attempt to politicize the adoption of the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message for financial gain,” Chauncey said.

The fund-raising letter said money received will be used to hire a full-time CBF coordinator for Virginia. It also heralds the anti-SBC message that the CBF has continually trumpeted.

“Since we have tried to ignore so many attacks in the past, we feel we must respond to the most recent ones,” Chauncey said. “So, we intend to send an audio cassette of the floor discussion that occurred in Orlando at the Southern Baptist Convention with regard to the BF&M to all Southern Baptist churches in Virginia. I think when Virginia Baptists hear the discussion in context they will be enabled to make a more informed decision about who really are the free and faithful Baptists.”

The newsletter featuring the unsigned article is edited by James Slatton, pastor of Richmond’s River Road Church-Baptist, a CBF-friendly congregation. One of the editorial advisers is Cecil Sherman, the CBF’s first national coordinator and currently a professor at the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond, which is supported by the BGAV, the CBF and the Alliance of Baptists.

    About the Author

  • Don Hinkle