Urged to stay in BSC
April 27 2001 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Urged to stay in BSC | Friday, April 27, 2001

Friday, April 27, 2001

Urged to stay in BSC

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor PLEASANT GARDEN - A prominent N.C. Baptist pastor is asking conservatives not to pull out of the Baptist State Convention (BSC). Mark Corts, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, made the appeal in a videotaped statement shown April 26 during a rally of "loyal Southern Baptists" at Pleasant Garden Baptist Church.

About 300 Conservative Carolina Baptists (CCB) supporters and a scattering of onlookers attended the meeting. Promoters had hoped to draw 1,000 supporters.

Corts encouraged attendees not to withdraw from the BSC.

"It is our job as Baptists to preserve a loyal denomination," he said.

Corts said a conservative influence is needed in the BSC to maintain more Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) influence among member churches, and that it was imperative that the BSC offer direct ties to the SBC.

Conservatives should also remain active in the BSC because it keeps the doors open to the institutions, Corts said. Some institutions would cut ties with the BSC if there was full conservative control, he said, but others would not because they depend on BSC funding. More conservative influence would help keep them from leaving, he said.

Conservatives should also remain active in the BSC because it is the greatest force for church planting in North Carolina, Corts said. If conservatives don't stay involved, he said, budget funds could be diverted from evangelism to other causes.

The BSC also has enormous symbolic power in North Carolina, he said. Conservatives should remain involved to see that the BSC takes positions that are morally right. Corts said he is convinced that most Baptists are conservative, and that conservatives must stay involved to help the BSC stay in line with its past.

Corts said conservatives should also stay involved for the sake of fellowship, noting that the BSC does not force people to choose.

Finally, Corts said, conservatives should remain involved in the BSC to preserve a state channel of giving to the SBC. "We must not forfeit our right to be involved," he said. "I urge you to be involved."

Corts' comments come about a year after he said that a new convention is likely the only hope for peace among N.C. Baptists. At the time, Corts said he thought it was far more likely that moderates would form a new state convention. But since then, moderates won two of the BSC top three offices.

Laity Moderate gains have largely been attributed to a group calling itself Mainstream Baptists of North Carolina. The group has emphasized laity involvement and held a "laity conference" just before the BSC annual meeting in November.

During the rally April 26, conservatives announced the formation of their own group to energize the laity.

Clarence Johnson, a layman from Indian Trail Baptist Church in Indian Trail, said that because of the efforts of the N.C. Baptist Laity Task Force, the BSC would be a different convention in three years.

"Once people realize the battle is for the Bible, they will stand up and fight," he said.

Johnson said he recently attended the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina (CBFNC) meeting, and had met a number of sweet people, had good conversations over dinner, and sang some good hymns. But, he said the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) proclaims bad theology that promotes "stinking thinking."

Johnson quoted a variety of unnamed professors from the University of Chicago who questioned the Christian faith, and said he could cite similar quotes from professors at divinity schools that partner with CBF.

Johnson said both secular and religious newspapers say that "if you don't believe anything, you're a moderate, and if you believe something, you're a fundamentalist." He defended the term "fundamentalist," saying that Southern Baptists wrote the Baptist Faith and Message because there were more points to affirm than are outlined in classic fundamentalism.

Johnson distributed a two-page handout, drawn largely from quotations in the Biblical Recorder, that he said demonstrated what is wrong with CBF. He acknowledged that the CBF coordinating council made a statement in 2000 designed to distance itself from a pro-homosexual position, but said CBF had never apologized for or disowned an AIDS education pamphlet distributed at the 1995 CBF General Assembly that did not call homosexuality a sin. "When we see things like this," Johnson said, "we must stand up and draw our swords to fight."

Mark Edwards, moderator of CBF of North Carolina, said his group hopes that all N.C. Baptist churches can work together through the BSC "to accomplish God's work in North Carolina and around the world."

Edwards said supporters of CBF are "Baptists who are passionate about their faith."

Johnson said he is "sick and tired of hearing about 'Mainstream this' and 'Mainstream that.'" His handout said the Mainstream movement was an attempt by CBF members to distance themselves from "radical left groups" such as the Alliance of Baptists, the Baptist Joint Committee, and the Baptist Peace Fellowship.

The question for CBF, the handout says, "becomes how to scare longtime Southern Baptists into a new group with a nice, non-threatening name like Mainstream."

Edwards said CBF and CBF of North Carolina are not political. Both are about missions, he said, and there is "no official or unofficial connection" between CBF and Mainstream.

Don Gordon, the chairman of the Mainstream Baptist of North Carolina (MBNC) steering committee, said his group is focused on the BSC.

"Our focus is not on the SBC or the CBF," he said. "Our focus is the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and upholding Baptist principles in North Carolina."

Gordon said MBNC has supporters who are affiliated with both the SBC and the CBF.

"We welcome their support, but our focus is on the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina maintaining its Baptist identity and autonomy," he said.

Awards, Speakers Conservatives at the meeting also honored five persons for past contributions to the conservative cause, enjoyed special music, and heard reports from CCB leaders and a sermon from former BSC president Mac Brunson.

Allan Blume, CCB's executive vice president and treasurer, presented plaques to five pioneers of the conservative movement in North Carolina. "Even as we look ahead," he said, "we want to look back and honor these men who have gone before us."

Blume said the men had shown love for the SBC, support for the conservative cause, and had defended the Bible as inerrant.

Those recognized were Coy Privette, retired minister from Kannapolis and former executive director of the Christian Action League; Mark Corts, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem; Gerald Primm, retired minister from Greensboro; Robert Tenery of Mocksville, retired pastor who edited pro-conservative publications; and M.O. Owens, a retired minister from Gastonia who was cited by other recipients as having inspired their participation in supporting conservative causes.

Eight trustees of SBC agencies and institutions were recognized, and four of them gave glowing reports about SBC life and work.

Bruce Martin, pastor of Village Baptist Church in Fayetteville and a member of the SBC Executive Committee, said he could not think of a better time to be a Southern Baptist than today. "We've decided what the Bible is - the inerrant word of God - and we've decided who Jesus is," he said. Martin said he could not imagine why any church would want to leave the SBC.

Michael Barrett, pastor of Pleasant Garden Baptist Church and a trustee of the International Mission Board (IMB), cited statistics showing large gains in baptisms, church starts and prospective missionaries.

Dennis Harrell, pastor of Hyde Park Baptist Church in Lumberton, spoke for the North American Mission Board (NAMB), for which he serves as a trustee. He described several NAMB outreach programs, and said NAMB has a goal of seeing 100,000 SBC churches in the United States by 2020. The SBC currently has about 38,000 churches.

Coy Privette said miracles were taking place at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS), where he is chair of the trustees. Privette said SEBTS is the fourth largest and fastest-growing seminary in the world, and has become a place where students who are not missions volunteers are in the minority.

Brunson, now pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, gave a sermon from Daniel 3 on the importance of convictions. Like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Brunson said people who hold convictions will face fiery crises of compromise. Convictions must be developed before crises arrive, Brunson said, and crises will come without warning. Godly convictions will inevitably clash with culture, but they will create a quiet confidence in the heart. When people hold godly convictions, he said, God promises to walk with them through the crises they face.

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4/27/2001 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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