News Articles

Texas church underscores SBC support; pastor corrects Baptist Standard report

PAMPA, Texas (BP)–A 4,000-member church which ranks in the top 1 percent of Texas churches in Cooperative Program gifts has voted to scale back its funding of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

First Baptist Church, Pampa, in the Texas Panhandle voted in an Aug. 13 business meeting that “if there is any further separation of the BGCT from the SBC” — a reference to some BGCT leaders’ publicly stated scenarios — it will discontinue all undesignated giving, or CP support, to the state convention beginning Nov. 1.

The church vote moves to 50 percent the allocation of its CP gifts to Southern Baptist Convention national and international missions and ministries, up from the current 33 percent. The shift will reduce the Texas percentage to 50 percent from the current 67 percent.

Additionally, the church’s pastor, Randy White, has countered a Texas Baptist Standard newsjournal story about Prestonwood Baptist Church in Dallas, a key congregation which also has challenged the direction of the BGCT.

The Aug. 7 news story opined in the first paragraph that the BGCT “stands to lose about $6,000 a year in financial support and the influence of seven agency trustees if Prestonwood Baptist Church proceeds with a threatened break from the state convention.”

White, in a letter to the editor, said the Standard “misrepresented the giving record of Prestonwood Baptist Church.”

“Prestonwood has a long-standing, faithful, consistent giving record through normal channels of the Cooperative Program and the Baptist General Convention of Texas,” White wrote. “However, Prestonwood recently has chosen to send monies directly to the Southern Baptist Convention until very serious concerns with the Baptist General Convention of Texas are settled. This year alone, Prestonwood will give $1,000,000 toward mission causes including nearly $500,000 through the Cooperative Program and SBC causes.”

White further noted that “Prestonwood’s influence for the cause of Christ extends far beyond the seven trustees on various boards and monetary contributions. The 17,000-member church along with their Pastor, Jack Graham, continue to lead the way in our state and national conventions through missions and evangelism. There are many churches across our state that have great respect for what God is doing at Prestonwood.”

White’s letter to the editor concluded: “Prestonwood has supported the BGCT through the years and has stated it is their desire to work together in the future. The BGCT should indeed be concerned with ‘all it stands to lose,’ but I think it might be more than $6,000 and seven agency trustees.”

The Aug. 13 vote at First Baptist, Pampa, reflects a new level of deliberation by congregations in Texas and elsewhere over their Baptist alignments.

According to news reports, a Missouri congregation, First Baptist, Columbia, and a North Carolina congregation, First Baptist, High Point, recently severed their ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, citing as a key reason the SBC’s revision toward a more biblical rooting of its Baptist Faith and Message statement of beliefs in June. The Missouri church remains affiliated with the American Baptist Churches and two SBC-breakaway dissident groups, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Alliance of Baptists. The North Carolina church is affiliated with the CBF.

First Baptist Church, Pampa, Texas, forwards through the Cooperative Program 13 percent of its members’ undesignated weekly offerings.

The church gave $253,199 to Baptist causes in 1999, almost $130,000 of which was given to the BGCT’s general budget. So far in 2000, the church has given more than $70,000 to the BGCT general budget.

In addition to the SBC-BGCT Cooperative Program reallocation in its Aug. 13 resolution, the Pampa church encouraged the “executive, appointed, and elected leadership of the Baptist General Convention of Texas to seek a long-term cooperative and harmonious agreement with the Southern Baptist Convention.” The resolution was presented by the church’s missions committee.

Among concerns mentioned in the resolution: the involvement of many BGCT leaders in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and another SBC-dissident group, Texas Baptists Committed.

The resolution lamented that many BGCT leaders do not hold a position of inerrancy of the Scriptures and that the BGCT leadership has “clearly and repeatedly expressed its dissatisfaction with the theological position of the Southern Baptist Convention and has begun a process of severing ties” between the two bodies.

Randy White, the church’s pastor, stated, “Our church, and I believe most Texas Baptists, are tired of the continual badgering of the Southern Baptist Convention and its leadership that comes from BGCT leaders. We want to work in the BGCT but will not do so without its cooperation in missions and ministry with the SBC. Our church would be thrilled to see the election of leaders in the BGCT who love the work of Texas Baptists and can work harmoniously with Southern Baptists through the SBC.”

White told Baptist Press that the church has had no discussions with officials of the newer Baptist convention in Texas, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.