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Southern Baptist evangelists approve 10-point code of ethics

ATLANTA (BP)–The Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists, in a historic vote June 15, tightened their resolve to stand up to scrutiny by approving an official code of ethics and establishing a council of accountability.
Conference president Jerry Drace, of Humboldt, Tenn., presided at the organization’s annual meeting at the Georgia World Congress Center, prior to the kickoff of the SBC annual meeting in the Georgia Dome.
The 75 men and women read together 10 statements of affirmation, pledging, among other things, to report accurate statistics and finances.
The council of accountability will assist in conflict resolution in situations involving evangelists and churches.
“We are the first body in the Southern Baptist Convention to have a council of accountability,” Drace said. “Our code of ethics will affirm before the Lord and each other our accountability as evangelists.”
Drace initiated the ethics and accountability measures and the creation of an emergency financial aid fund. He reported that Billy Graham sent his “unqualified” endorsement of the council.
Part of the package includes a process for credentialing evangelists through the SBC North American Mission Board. Until adoption of the code of ethics, evangelists needed only a letter of recommendation from their pastor.
The new provisions ask those seeking membership in the conference to sign their names to the “Affirmation of Accountability” document. In addition, those seeking membership in COSBE and an endorsement by the denomination will undergo an application and interview process coordinated by NAMB.
“This is a means by which we can undergird your ministry and give you a stamp of approval,” said Don Smith, an associate with NAMB’s direct evangelism team. A number of training opportunities and other benefits will be provided at no cost to the evangelists who undertake the process. Evangelists who have been in service for five or more years only need to complete part of the credentials process.
Council of accountability members elected to four-year terms, effective immediately, were Marion Warren, Euless, Texas, chairman; Leon Westerhouse, Birmingham, Ala., vice chairman; and Buddy Keim, Bixby, Okla., secretary-treasurer. Also serving with the elected council are COSBE president Drace; pastor-adviser Ken Hall, Northside Baptist Church, Valdosta, Ga.; and NAMB liaison Smith.
Also during the meeting, the 1998-99 officers, with the exception of Drace who will serve his second year of a two-year term, were re-elected to the same positions for the 1999-2000 year. They are: Mike Osborne, Petersburg, Va., vice president; Pamela Valle, Bedford, Tex., secretary-treasurer; Ken Holland, Franklin, Tenn., music director; Les Snyder, West Frankfort, Ill., assistant music director; Larry Walker, Dallas, parliamentarian; and Hall, adviser. Margaret Allen, Edmond, Okla. was elected as secretary-treasurer-elect.
Plaques commemorating 25 years in evangelism were presented to the following: Allen; Keim; Roger Breland, Mobile, Ala.; Sam Cathey, Gainesville, Ga.; Phil Glisson, Memphis, Tenn.; Richard Green, St. Louis; and, Benny Jackson, Germantown, Tenn.
The Affirmation of Accountability adopted by the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists reads as follows:
“We, the members of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists do hereby, before the Lord and each other, affirm the following statements concerning our accountability as vocational evangelists.
“I. “We confess Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as Lord and Savior and declare our obedience to the Great Commission, our willingness to advance its purpose and our availability to fulfill its meaning.
“II. “We align ourselves with the doctrinal position of the 1998 Baptist Faith and Message and reaffirm our belief that the Bible is the infallible Word of God.
“III. We assert the call of the vocational evangelist is an authentic New Testament call; thereby, we approach our vocation with the same degree of preparation and integrity as is demanded of other Christian vocational skills.
“IV. We are accountable to the local church where we are members by participating in its programs and supporting it with our tithes. We will strive to conduct our ministries so as to build up the local body of believers by proclaiming the great doctrines of the Scriptures.
“V. We acknowledge that conviction of sin is a work of the Holy Spirit and we will extend the invitation with integrity and without coercion or manipulation.
“VI. Our priorities are: First, to a disciplined devotional life, insuring our personal spiritual development; second, to our families, demonstrating our commitment as companions and parents; third, to those with whom we minister giving evidence of the credibility of our message.
“VII. As servants of God we confirm our duty to live morally clean, pure, holy lives. What we proclaim in public we are obligated to practice in private.
“VIII. We declare to be faithful and responsible under God in the reporting of all our finances and statistics.
“IX. We need and desire to be filled and controlled by the Holy Spirit in order that we may be thoroughly prepared and thoroughly empowered.
“X. We seek to promote evangelism with integrity through every segment of our ministries and, in so doing, we expect the same standards from those with whom we serve.”

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  • Joni B. Hannigan