Missouri Baptists launch new convention
April 26 2002 by Bob Allen , Associated Baptist Press

Missouri Baptists launch new convention | Friday, April 26, 2002

Friday, April 26, 2002

Missouri Baptists launch new convention

By Bob Allen Associated Baptist Press

BRIDGETON, Mo. - Saying they are tired of denominational politics in the Missouri Baptist Convention, 350 Southern Baptists met April 19-20 in suburban St. Louis to launch the Baptist General Convention of Missouri.

"It's going to be a convention for people who don't want to fight anymore," said Randy Fullerton, who presided over the meeting. Fullerton is pastor of Fee Fee Baptist Church in Bridgeton, Mo.

The new convention's vision statement says in part, "We desire to leave the strife and conflict of the past behind and move forward as we seek to fulfill the commission of our Lord Jesus Christ to make disciples of all nations."

The new group pledges "to be inclusive in our fellowship" and to provide financial support for the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and "all our Missouri Baptist institutions."

While the convention "will welcome inquiries and requests for information" from churches and individuals, "we do not intend to actively recruit congregations," the vision statement said.

"We desire to leave the strife and move forward, even if that means walking backward into the future," Jim Hill, former executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC), said in describing the new convention's vision.

Factional strife has dominated Missouri Baptist life in recent years, as conservatives and moderates faced off in fierce campaigns for leadership posts in the MBC. Conservatives eventually prevailed, and the MBC's executive director resigned, saying he could not work with the new leaders. Last year, five moderate-controlled MBC agencies switched to self-perpetuating trustee boards to guard against takeover by conservatives. The MBC responded by escrowing funds and threatening to sue if the agencies don't come back under convention control.

Fullerton said his church, which has avoided taking sides in the long-running controversy, had voted to join the alternative state body out of a desire to put cooperation ahead of politics. "We have been willing to put our money where our mouth is," Fullerton said in describing the 195-year-old congregation's long record of denominational support, "but Fee Fee Baptist Church will not play politics."

"We need some people who are willing to trust each other and work together for the kingdom of God," Fullerton said. "There is no place for politics in the church."

The new group, formed in part to support agencies defunded by the Missouri Baptist Convention, ratified a basic Cooperative Program budget of $4 million, with 35.75 percent, or about $1.4 million, earmarked for national and international causes of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The SBC is expected to refuse gifts from the new convention, however. While the denomination recognizes breakaway conservative conventions in two states, SBC executive committee president Morris Chapman has indicated he will recommend against doing the same with the new Missouri convention, saying it competes with the conservative-led Missouri Baptist Convention.

"If you choose to join this convention and you want to remain a Southern Baptist church, you can do that very simply," said Sondra Allen, the new convention's secretary.

The convention will advise member churches to deduct 35.75 percent of their monthly Cooperative Program contribution - the same amount forwarded to SBC causes by the Missouri Baptist Convention - and send it directly to denominational headquarters in Nashville, Tenn.

The budget funds all institutions and agencies of the Missouri Baptist Convention, adding supplemental monies for five MBC defunded agencies: Baptist Home, Missouri Baptist Foundation, Windermere Baptist Conference Center, Word and Way and Missouri Baptist College.

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4/26/2002 12:00:00 AM by Bob Allen , Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments
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