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Southern Baptists of Texas mark ongoing hikes in churches, giving

DALLAS (BP)–Messengers to the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention passed by overwhelming margins a host of theologically conservative resolutions and approved a budget that more than doubles the previous year’s figure, during their Nov. 16 annual meeting in Dallas.
The SBTC, formed last November by churches at odds with the moderate/liberal direction of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, has grown from the 130 aligned churches at its inaugural convention to 260 at this year’s gathering.
The convention was abuzz with speculation over the possible alignment of dozens of churches in the coming months. Much of the speculation was fueled earlier this month by the BGCT’s controversial decision not to affirm the Southern Baptist Convention’s Baptist Faith and Message as amended in 1998. That amendment, approved by messengers at the Salt Lake City convention, affirms Ephesians 5, that husbands should love their wives as Christ loved and gave his life for the church, that wives should submit to their husbands and that both are equal before God.
“Some say Ephesians 5 is not relevant, so the issue is the nature of Scripture,” SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards told the 675 registered messengers and another 250 guests gathered in Criswell College’s chapel. “We believe they are the words of God, that Scripture is the inerrant, infallible Word of God. The Word of God is absolute truth.”
Several speakers at the convention took issue with characterizations made by some at the BGCT’s convention in El Paso who referred to the 1998 SBC amendment as “Neanderthal.”
“Neanderthal is an evolution term and I don’t believe in evolution. I believe in the Word of God,” said Miles Seaborn, chairman of the board of trustees at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary during his address at the convention’s President’s Luncheon. His remarks drew a standing ovation.
A resolution affirming the Baptist Faith and Message as amended in 1998 was among the eight resolutions passed by SBTC messengers. The resolution was introduced and unanimously approved even though affirmation of the 1998 amended version is required for SBTC membership, further underscoring the fledgling convention’s strong allegiance to the SBC and on the Ephesians 5 model of marriage.
“The amended Baptist Faith and Message is theologically sound, doctrinally correct and biblically correct in its instruction concerning the equal worth of husband and wife before God, both being created in His image … ,” the resolution stated, noting that “the Bible, not culture, is to be our final source of authority.”
Messengers also approved resolutions regarding the sanctity of life and affirmed their support for student-led, voluntary prayer and the displaying of the Ten Commandments in schools. They also passed resolutions supporting the SBC Cooperative Program and called on SBTC members “to exercise their right and privilege to elect honorable and moral individuals” to public office. All of the resolutions passed with little or no debate and by overwhelming margins.
The sanctity of life resolution affirmed that “all human life, both born and unborn, deserves equal dignity and rights, and those who are old, those who are ill, those who are mentally and physically impaired deserve full protection and honor as human beings.”
The voluntary school prayer resolution expressed the SBTC’s belief in the “constitutional right of voluntary, student-led prayers in schools, at sporting events, and any other gathering place of students.”
The Ten Commandments resolution encourages “the display of the Ten Commandments in schools, courthouses, libraries, universities, statehouses, and other places of public assembly.”
The resolution affirming the Cooperative Program on its 75th anniversary challenged all churches to “lead its members in personal evangelism ministries, to baptize those new believers, and to incorporate and disciple them into the church body so that they may do likewise.”
Messengers approved a $1.97 million budget that more than triples the amount of funds earmarked for missions and evangelism and more than doubles the amount tabbed for new church starts in the state. The SBTC, unlike the BGCT which offers multiple giving options that discourage contributions to Southeastern, Southern and Midwestern Baptist Theological seminaries, provides 50 percent of its undesignated gifts to the SBC.
In addition to the re-election of Stan Coffey, pastor of San Jacinto Baptist Church, Amarillo, as SBTC president, Steve Cochran of Macedonia Baptist Church, Longview, was elected as first vice president and David Rangel of Primena Baptist Church, Grand Prairie, second vice president. Gerald Smith of MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church in Irving was elected recording secretary over Don Workman of Southcrest Baptist Church in Lubbock by a vote of 150-100.
“I believe this session was conducted with a spirit of celebration and revival,” Richards said following the convention. “We anticipate the new year and new millennium to be a time of great opportunity for SBC churches in Texas to do missions and ministry through the SBTC.”
In other convention business messengers voted to:
— hold the 2000 convention Nov. 14 at Castle Hills First Baptist Church in San Antonio. The 2001 and 2002 conventions will be held in Fort Worth and Houston, respectively, with sites still to be determined.
— name the convention’s monthly full-color magazine “The Southern Baptist Texan.” Richards noted that circulation is at 18,000 and subscriptions continue to come in at a rate of about 50 per week.

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  • Don Hinkle