News Articles

Studies of annual meeting, BWA approved by Executive Committee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)??Two study committees ?? one on the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting, the other on the SBC’s relationship to Baptist World Alliance ?? were named during the Sept. 23 meeting of the SBC Executive Committee.
The SBC annual meeting committee was appointed as a follow?up step to Executive Committee action last February in response to a request from the SBC Committee on Order of Business for the Executive Committee chairman to name such a study committee.
In addition, the 1997 Committee on Order of Business was to develop a list of suggestions for improving convention sessions, according to the Executive Committee action in February.
Concerning the Baptist World Alliance ad hoc study committee, SBC President Tom Elliff issued a statement Sept. 23 noting reasons he called for the committee’s creation.
“Over the years the SBC has enjoyed a positive and encouraging relationship with the Baptist World Alliance. The BWA sometimes lends credibility to the Baptist witness in countries which might otherwise deny the opportunity for a significant presence. This is especially helpful for smaller Baptist conventions in developing countries or countries where Christian organizations are looked on with suspicion.
“Recently, however, questions have arisen regarding perceived changes in the mission, focus and doctrinal positions of the BWA,” Elliff continued. “Since Southern Baptists give a significant amount to the BWA through our Cooperative Program ($417,838 for the 1997?98 fiscal year), good stewardship requires that we be fully aware and in accord with their objectives, doctrinal positions and operational procedures. It is in response to these concerns that I asked Dr. James Merritt, chairman of the SBC Executive Committee, to appoint a study group to meet with representatives of the BWA so that we might assess the manner in which we should support their work in the coming years.”
Named to the five?member SBC annual meeting committee were three Executive Committee members: Forrest E. Lowry III, pastor from Spring, Texas, who will chair the study; Reuel May Jr., a physician from Jackson, Miss.; and Frank Cox, pastor from the Atlanta area and current president of the Georgia Baptist Convention. The other two members are former chairmen of the SBC Committee on Order of Business, Jim Richards, an Arkansas director of missions, and Danny Watters, Douglasville, Ga., pastor.
Named to chair the eight?member Baptist World Alliance ad hoc study committee was Morris H. Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the Executive Committee. The committee’s other members are Elliff, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church, Del City, Okla.; Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board; James T. Draper Jr., president of the Baptist Sunday School Board; Paige Patterson, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina; and three members of the Executive Committee: Joe Reynolds, a Houston attorney; Gary Smith, pastor from Arlington, Texas; and Bob Sorrell, associate pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, suburban Memphis, Tenn.
Two new media initiatives were approved by the Executive Committee: a new monthly flagship publication of the North American Mission Board, to be titled, “On Mission Magazine,” and a listener?supported weekday radio program by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Committee, “For Faith & Family.”
Responding to motions referred from the 1997 annual meeting in Dallas, the Executive Committee agreed:
?? to consider New York City as a possible site for an SBC annual meeting.
?? to provide messengers more printed information at the SBC registration and information areas on facilities (restaurants, etc.) near the convention center.
?? to recommend to the 1998 annual meeting in Salt Lake City improved appearance/readability of messenger name tags for SBC annual meetings, along with improved comfort and ease of their use.
The Executive Committee declined action on motions to:
?? instruct the Committee on Nominations “to apply no guidelines for eligibility for nominations other than the requirements mandated by the Southern Baptist Convention bylaws.” The Executive Committee noted SBC Bylaw 16 “has sufficient instruction to the Committee on Nominations to ensure that the Convention’s interests are honored … .”
?? amend the SBC constitution to provide “one additional messenger … for every one percent (1%) paid to the work of the Convention through the Cooperative Program … .” The Executive Committee stated “such a change would have no effect on Cooperative Program giving and would not be an improvement on the current equitable method for determining messenger participation.” Currently, additional messengers are permitted, up to 10, for each $250 given through the SBC Cooperative Program.
?? require debate on every resolution submitted for consideration during the SBC annual meeting, because it would “unduly encumber the Convention.” The Executive Committee affirmed the current resolutions process “as a thoughtful and manageable framework in which to deal with important subjects.”
?? schedule SBC annual meetings for weeks that do not follow Father’s Day. The Executive Committee noted SBC annual meetings now scheduled through 2002 will not follow Father’s Day, and “defining a specific week … could reduce the availability of facilities” for consideration as sites of the annual meetings.
On other motions, the Executive Committee reaffirmed SBC policy of neither receiving nor disbursing funds designated for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and it noted it is continuing to study meeting hall facility requirements and will “only contract facility space needed to accommodate the anticipated needs of the annual meeting.”
In other action, the Executive Committee:
?? adopted a 1997?98 SBC Operating Budget of $6,092,674, which includes the budget of the Executive Committee and the 1998 SBC annual meeting.
?? adopted a six?step SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget planning process for 1998?99 for determining the Executive Committee funding recommendation for SBC agencies to be presented to messengers at the 1998 SBC annual meeting.
?? elected Len Taylor, director of student evangelism for the North American Mission Board, to serve as a Southern Baptist representative on the Baptist World Alliance youth committee for the 1995?2000 unexpired term of a former staff member of the former Brotherhood Commission.
?? employed the firm of Arthur Andersen LLP as auditor for the Executive Committee for the 1997?98 fiscal year.
?? approved documentation that the Executive Committee is in compliance with Internal Revenue Service codes.
?? adopted an amendment to the Southern Baptist Foundation bylaws addressing potential conflict?of?interest matters involving foundation trustees or staff.
?? adopted resolutions of appreciation for Roy J. Smith, who retires Dec. 31 after 13 years as executive director?treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina; James Watters, who retired Aug. 1 after 13 years as editor of the Northwest Baptist Witness; and Glenn Brown, who retires Sept. 30 after 10 years as editor of the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger.
?? approved a Baptist World Alliance request for Herb Hollinger, vice president for convention news, and Art Toalston, editor of Baptist Press, to coordinate the newsroom at the Baptist World Alliance Congress in January 2000 in Melbourne, Australia.