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Southwestern President calls BGCT budget proposal tragic alternative

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Baptist General Convention of Texas administrative committee voted Sept. 13 to recommend redirecting approximately $5 million in gifts from Texas Baptist churches from Southern Baptist Convention seminaries, including Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

Southwestern Seminary President Kenneth S. Hemphill made the following statement in response to the committee’s recommendation:

“This new Texas plan is a tragic alternative. It penalizes God-called men and women whose only desire is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ around the world. Students at Southern Baptist seminaries do not deserve to be made pawns in a patently political maneuver. If this plan has emerged to meet the growing need of Texas seminary students, Texas churches should note that Southwestern has more than 1,300 Texas Baptist students composing 44 percent of our student body.

“In the existing budget format, Texas churches contribute 7.5 percent of our budget. This means that Baptists from other states are supporting the education of Texas Baptist students on the Southwestern campus. This is the genius of the Cooperative Program. But we must ask if it is fair for Texas Baptists to allow churches from other states to supplement the theological education of Texans and in turn refuse to fund the theological education of students from those states.

“I am grieved for Texas Baptist churches because this proposal does not give them the privilege of supporting students from across the United States and around the world. Southwestern has become the SBC’s global seminary with 226 students from 45 different countries. I believe that Texas Baptist churches want the opportunity to participate in the training of these God-called men and women.

“The Texas proposal does not look at the big pictures of a Great Commission strategy from a Kingdom perspective. Redirecting money to meet crucial needs in Texas is a parochial view, which establishes a poor model for local churches. State, national, and global ministry would suffer if local churches began to redirect their funds to meet only the needs in their own neighborhood. We must embrace a global vision for the sake of the Gospel.”

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