The following letter was sent by Morris H. Chapman, President and Chief Executive Officer of the SBC Executive Committee to the members of the Executive Committee, along with the Marriage Covenant commitment card.
June 2, 1999
I write you today with a sense of genuine excitement. God has been faithful once again to lead Southern Baptists into a new dimension of ministry that could be so far-reaching as to encompass the world. On Tuesday, May 11, 1999, in New York, New York, an announcement was made to officially initiate the Covenant Marriage Movement. Though the announcement was made on May 11, the movement began on Tuesday, February 23, 1999. On that day a group of representatives from cooperating ministries gathered in Dallas, Texas, to discern what God is doing in our nation as it relates to marriage and family.
As was expected, God brought unity of spirit to that meeting and began an organized expression of His will. The Covenant Marriage Movement Team at LifeWay Christian Resources was commissioned that day to:
• Provide leadership for the movement.
• Maintain the purity of the Covenant Marriage Statement and the movement.
• Oversee the development of a logo for the movement.
• Call a press conference in May to announce the movement.
• Provide ongoing press releases.
• Continue developing the support base of Christian denominations, organizations, and ministries and serve as an evaluation team for those who desire to become cooperating ministries.
Phil Waugh, Leo Godzich, and Tony Perkins at LifeWay Christian Resources are serving as the Steering Team and will serve as contact persons and official spokesmen for the movement.
The National Association of Marriage Enhancement (N.A.M.E.) was given the responsibility of providing a communication and prayer support network for the Covenant Marriage Movement cooperating ministries. It is imperative that we continually bathe this movement in prayer trusting God to move in a mighty way as we seek to serve Him in obedience.
LifeWay Christian Resources will serve as the clearinghouse for all materials directly related to the movement. Each of the cooperating ministries was asked to:
• Determine whether or not their ministry desired to be listed as a cooperating ministry of the Covenant Marriage Movement.
• Return the signed Covenant Marriage Movement statement of cooperation to LifeWay Christian Resources by March 10, 1999.
• Promote the Covenant Marriage Movement.
• Consent to be listed as a cooperating ministry on the letterhead and promotion, as deemed beneficial to the movement and how it would like for its organization to be listed.
• Provide opportunities for couples to affirm their marriage as a covenant relationship through the signing of a Covenant Marriage Commitment card.
• Where possible, make sure those cards are sent to the Covenant Marriage Movement office at LifeWay Christian Resources.
I am grateful for the opportunity to stand along-side Dr. James T. Draper, Jr., and LifeWay Christian Resources in this dynamic and most worthy effort. I would like to invite you, as members of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, and your spouses to join Jodi and me in affirming that our marriages are Covenant Marriages. We have an opportunity to lead the Southern Baptist Convention through example. I believe God is calling us as leaders within our Convention to set the pace for others to follow.
If you would be willing to join Jodi and me in this statement of affirmation, please sign the enclosed commitment card, keep the top portion for yourselves, and return the bottom portion as a confirmation of your covenant. It would be a great encouragement to the LifeWay Marriage Covenant team to receive your card prior to the Southern Baptist Convention.
As always, I give thanks to God for each of you and for your willingness to lead by example.
Yours sincerely in Jesus,
Morris H. Chapman