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Texas Baptist convention reaffirms officers, approves amendments, budget, resolutions

HOUSTON (BP)–Messengers to the 113th annual Baptist General Convention of Texas reelected officers, approved a constitutional amendment regarding messenger qualifications, and passed a record $49.7 million budget for 1999.
Meeting in Houston’s George R. Brown Convention Center, 5,382 convention messengers approved by acclamation second one-year terms for the three incumbent officers: president, Russell H. Dilday, distinguished professor at Baylor University’s Truett Seminary, Waco; first vice president, Jaclanel McFarland, attorney and member of South Main Baptist Church in Houston; and second vice president, Ed Hogan, pastor of Houston’s Jersey Village Baptist Church.
In a news conference soon after his reelection, Dilday stressed the independent, autonomous nature of the BGCT and other Baptist bodies. Regarding the relationship between the BGCT and the Southern Baptist Convention, he said, “I think there will always be cooperation in the future. It may change in nature and extent, but it will always be there and we will continue to participate in programs the messengers of the BGCT feel they can still support.”
Dilday said the BGCT will “become more of a full-service convention. By that I mean we provide for our churches a whole range in which we can help them obey the Great Commission. But that doesn’t mean we would become some kind of national denominational entity.”
Messengers approved 3,342 (70.73 percent) to 1,383 (29.27 percent) a constitutional amendment linking messenger participation to giving, more than the required two-thirds majority.
The change, introduced last year by the convention’s Effectiveness/Efficiency Committee, provides two messengers for every church, regardless of size or giving record. The church qualifies for two additional messengers for its first $250 given during the previous fiscal year to the Texas convention budget. Then, it is entitled to one messenger for each additional 100 members (or major fractional part thereof) and each additional $1,000 given to the Texas budget, up to a maximum of 25 messengers.
Charles Davenport, pastor of First Baptist Church, Tulia, and chairman of the BGCT administrative committee, called the proposal to tie messenger participation to giving the “fair thing to do.”
Convention messengers approved a record $49,735,401 total budget for 1999, a 4.4 percent increase over the 1998 budget. In the process, messengers defeated a proposed amendment to the 1999 budget that would have eliminated funding for the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs and reallocated $63,000 to new church starts. Messengers also defeated an amendment from the floor that would have diverted $300,000 from the administration budget to fund new church starts.
Of the total $49.7 million, $45,835,000 will come from the Cooperative Program unified budget, an increase of 3 percent over the 1998 Cooperative Program budget. The remainder of the operating budget comes from the Mary Hill Davis Offering for State Missions, endowments and other sources, with endowment funds increasingly being used to cover administrative expenses.
Messengers approved charter changes for three Human Welfare Coordinating Board agencies, including an agreement that allows the BGCT to elect 25 percent of the trustees for Baylor Health Care System. In the past, trustees for Baylor were appointed through Baylor University. This charter change marks the first time in 78 years that BGCT has elected Baylor Health Care trustees.
Also given approval were charter changes for Valley Baptist Medical Center and Baptist Healthcare System of Beaumont. The charter change for BHS allows the hospital to enter an agreement with Memorial Hermann Hospital System of Houston. The agreement is crucial to the financial survival of BHS, messengers were told by Human Welfare Coordinating Board Director Ed Rogers.
Texas Baptist messengers approved eight resolutions, including a response to a controversial amendment to the Baptist Faith and Message approved by the Southern Baptist Convention in June.
In a resolution titled “Biblical Equality,” messengers stated their belief in “the freedom and responsibility of women and men to respond to the call of Christ to serve as they are gifted by God,” and affirmed the “priesthood of each believer in discerning God’s truth as revealed in Scripture and led by the Holy Spirit.”
The resolution also affirms “the freedom of each local Baptist church to commission for service all persons regardless of race, socio-economic standing, age or gender who are called of God to model servant leadership.”
The resolution comes on the heels of an amendment to the Baptist confessional statement approved by the SBC last summer. The amendment drew national attention by calling on “a wife to submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband.”
Texas Baptists countered what was interpreted by some as a one-sided statement by resolving that “male and female alike are created in the image of God and God gave to both the responsibilities of caring for their children and being stewards over all creation.”
The resolution also states that both men and women are “each to put on the mind of Christ who emptied himself and humbled himself in obedience and to mutually submit to one another as a witness to the world.”
Messengers debated wording in the resolution which Ed See, messenger from First Baptist Church, Magnolia, said might lead some to believe the convention was sanctioning the ordination of women as senior pastors. That issue, See said, “has the potential to be divisive and misunderstood.”
But Resolutions Committee Chairman Ellis Orozco said the intent of the resolution as proposed by the committee was only to address the priesthood of each believer and the autonomy of each church.
Messengers also defeated a proposed amendment to the resolution that affirmed the right of churches to ordain individuals regardless of the person’s sexual orientation. During debate over the amendment, messengers voiced concern that its intent left open the door for ordination of homosexuals.
Messengers also approved a resolution that calls for legislation that would require parental consent at least 48 hours before any abortion could be performed on a minor child. Such legislation “should include a judicial bypass which would permit the court to protect children in cases of parental neglect or abuse,” the resolution states. It also calls on Texas Baptists to “teach our children the values and biblical values of chastity before marriage, the sanctity of life and the tragedy and sin of elective abortion.” The final resolution as approved by messengers changed the committee’s original wording from parental notification to parental consent.
Other resolutions approved by messengers included opposition to tuition vouchers for parochial education. The resolution states that messengers encourage Texas Baptists “to communicate to their legislators their opposition to any plan to use vouchers to finance private parochial education with public funds.” It also calls on the Christian Life Commission “to continue to make extraordinary efforts to prevent passage of voucher legislation.”
Messengers approved a resolution urging the Texas legislature to pass legislation making life without parole “a viable sentencing alternative for Texas juries.”
Also approved was a resolution opposing gender-based apartheid, prevalent in many Muslim countries that has led to limited human rights for women.
Resolutions expressing appreciation to the host city and the convention officers also passed, along with a call for prayer and contributions to aid victims of recent devastation in Central America.
Messengers ended their miscellaneous business session Tuesday morning by praying for leaders of the Southern Baptists of Texas, scheduled to form a rival convention later in the day.
Bubba Stahl, pastor of First Baptist Church, Boerne, made a motion Monday afternoon asking for a “time of prayer … for the leadership of SBT as they make their plans for their constitutional convention.”
When Order of Business Committee Chairman Harry Lucenay of First Baptist Church, Longview, and Dilday announced the session would conclude with a time of prayer, Stahl told messengers that while he “is not in favor of what the leadership of SBT is about to do,” he does believe the BGCT wants them to succeed.
He commented the leaders of the conservative group are “saved by the same blood (of Jesus) and have the same baptism” as he encouraged the convention to pray for them.
Mary Humphries of San Marcos, chairman of the Sesquicentennial Committee, led the prayer. She asked for leadership and guidance, “the proper attitude and love for our brothers and sisters in Christ.”
After a moment of silence, she prayed for Texas Baptists, Southern Baptists and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. She commented “Texas Baptists are diverse people. Though our methods and strategies and administrations reflect that diversity, we are united in believing in God … and in Jesus Christ.
“We lift up the leaders that feel they can no longer cooperate with this group,” she added, referring to the SBT leadership.
During other parts of the miscellaneous business session, messengers declined to discuss abortion and supported a ruling that they would not reconsider the matter of University Baptist Church, Austin, which ordained a homosexual as deacon.
Messengers referred a motion by Charles Smith of First Baptist Church, Willis, to “vote by ballot to condemn abortion in all instances except when the mother’s life is in danger.”
Lucenay, speaking for the Order of Business Committee, said Smith’s motion was similar to one passed during the annual session in 1997 and moved that it be referred to the Human Welfare Coordinating Board and the Christian Life Commission.
Smith objected to the referral, noting the convention “does not need to refer this matter, we need to vote on it.”
Clay Simmons of First Baptist Church, Borger, also objected to referring the matter, noting the convention is “sending a mixed message. If we cannot make a definitive vote on it here and now, we do not have the right to speak on any other matter.”
Several people talked about the matter of abortion before Dilday noted the matter before the house was not abortion, but whether to refer the issue. One, Mary Poythress of Tallowood Baptist Church, Houston, said the convention should reconsider the matter “when the first man in Texas has a baby.”
The matter was referred by a show of ballots.
Another motion by Smith to deny funding to any Baptist medical institution or entity that is proven to perform abortions was ruled out of order because it would require an amendment to the convention’s Business and Financial Plan.
Bruce Dyer, from Seventh and James Baptist Church, Waco, had requested messengers reverse the action of the executive board in regard to Austin’s University Baptist Church. In February, the executive board asked the church to cease using the logo of the convention on its materials and decided not to accept further contributions from the congregations after it had ordained a practicing homosexual as a deacon and advertised itself as accepting of gays and lesbians.
Dyer, in his motion said the action of the executive board violated the autonomy of the local church and the priesthood of the believer and asked that the messengers reverse the action.
University opted not to send messengers to the annual meeting. Only the convention would have the prerogative of deciding whether to seat messengers from the church.
In an obscure parliamentary procedure, Lucenay objected to consideration of Dyer’s motion, noting, “The executive board dealt with this matter. It is not an issue that the convention needs to further address.”
Dilday explained the objection of the Order of Business Committee was an allowable parliamentary procedure which was not debatable but which did require 2/3 majority to adopt.
Considerable discussion occurred between Dilday, Lucenay, and parliamentarians Bart Tichenor and John Uxer about how to take the vote. At one point Dilday walked to the podium and said, “When parliamentarians disagree, we will follow the Dilday rule.”
When the vote was taken, however, only a scattered handful of messengers wanted to discuss Dyer’s motion and the majority favored not discussing the matter further.
Two other matters, by pastor Allan Lane of Fort Graham Baptist Church, Whitney, were referred to the executive board. One called for a study of options by which smaller membership churches can gain increased messenger eligibility, and the other suggested a feasibility study into creation of regional satellite convention locations to allow increased participation by churches unable to send messengers to distant locations. –30–
11/11/98 Hawaii Pacific messengers give to Central America relief
HONOLULU (BP)–Messengers to the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention (formerly the Hawaii Baptist Convention) received a first hand e-mail report about the devastation in Honduras from Howard and Marvina Hooper, former HPBC staffers who now serve with IMB. Following a time of special prayer for the disaster ridden countries of Central America an offering of more than $800 was received to be sent via IMB for disaster relief.
Hawaii Pacific Baptists registered a record 318 messengers and adopted a $2.3 million budget in annual session Nov. 5-6 at First Southern Baptist Church, Pearl Harbor.
Stephen Murphy, pastor of Olivet Baptist Church, Honolulu, was elected convention president. Other officers elected were George Iwahiro, a layman from Nuuanu Baptist Church, Honolulu, 1st vice president; and Ted Goslen, pastor of First Baptist Church, Waimea, 2nd vice president. Election of the recording secretary was delegated to the convention executive board.
The budget reflects $914,203 in Cooperative Program gifts from the churches, $822, 443 from the North American Mission Board and $59,900 from Lifeway Christian Resources. The balance comes from cost recovery fees. The projected amount to be sent to the Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program is $287,974. This is 31.5 percent of Cooperative Program receipts from the churches, the same percentage as last year.
Messengers passed resolutions in opposition to legalized gambling and urging Christians to pray for and support persecuted Christians around the world. Other resolutions expressed appreciation to the host church, agency representatives, and rotating convention committee and executive board members.
The 1999 annual session is scheduled for Nov. 11-12 at the King Kamehameha Hotel in Kailua Kona.

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