NAMB employees leave over BF&M
August 3 2001 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

NAMB employees leave over BF&M | Friday, Aug. 3, 2001
  • The removal of the statement that says Jesus is the criterion by which Scripture should be interpreted.
  • The inclusion of what Hutchinson called "one-way submission," in the amendment on the family that calls for wives to submit graciously to their husbands.

    "I favor mutual submission as referenced in Ephesians 5:21," he said.

  • The prohibition against women pastors in the paragraph on the church.

    Hutchinson said that after he discussed the issue with his superiors they "agreed to disagree" and he chose to resign.

    "I could not look myself in the face in the morning if I signed the Baptist Faith and Message just to keep a job," he said.

    Hutchinson said he had affirmed the 1963 version of the BF&M five times during his 20 years with NAMB, the last being in 1994.

    "With the changes that occurred in 1998 and 2000, I could no longer do that," he said.

    The family amendment was added to the BF&M in 1998. The statement was revised in 2000.

    Hutchinson said NAMB plans to honor the three employees at a reception.

    "I felt very good about the way we concluded my service at the board," he said. "I have no ax to grind in wanting to be judgmental or vengeful toward the agency."

    Hutchinson said he prefers to remember his good experiences with NAMB and its predecessor, the Home Mission Board.

    "I feel deeply about my sentiments," he said. "I was willing to pay whatever price necessary."

    Hutchinson graduated from Mars Hill College. He served as director of church and community ministries for the New River Association from 1981 to 1987.

    He said he is exploring his career options and hopes to return to North Carolina.

    Pickle could not be reached for comment.

    Escobar said that he decided to take early retirement effective Aug. 1. He would not say if he left rather than sign the BF&M.

    "I wish I could discuss that with you, but part of my agreement allowing me to take early retirement was that I was not going to discuss publicly the reasons other than I was taking early retirement," Escobar said. "Under contract, I'm not at liberty to discuss it."

    NAMB's King said he did not know the specific conditions of the retirement agreements.

    "I know often when someone leaves the board or other types of employment, it's not unusual to have an agreement that we won't speak critically of one another," he said.

    King called the three men "good employees, brothers in Christ."

    "It's sad for us that they've left, but they're the ones that made the determination that they couldn't conduct their ministries in accordance with guidelines set down by the owners of the agency, the Southern Baptist Convention," he said.

    King said the three were given severance packages that are "fair" and additional assistance to help their transitions to other ministries.

    NAMB missionaries are asked to affirm the BF&M during the application process, King said.

    "We have not gone back to the mission force of 5,000 and asked them to reaffirm the current Baptist Faith and Message," he said.

  • Friday, Aug. 3, 2001

    NAMB employees leave over BF&M

    By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor Three North American Mission Board (NAMB) employees, including one with North Carolina ties, have left the agency over disagreements with the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M).

    NAMB spokesman Martin King said Gerry Hutchinson, Denoso Escobar and George Pickle "have left the board because they said they could not do their ministries in accordance with the Baptist Faith and Message."

    Hutchinson, a N.C. native, was head of church and community ministries evangelism for NAMB. Escobar was an associate in that department. Pickle was a chaplaincy evangelism associate.

    Hutchinson resigned effective July 31. Escobar and Pickle took early retirement.

    King said NAMB's professional and management employees, which make up about half the agency's 425 workers, were given a copy of the BF&M to review in late May or early June. The employees were then given a two-part document, he said.

    The first part contained a statement that the employee had read and agreed with the BF&M. If the employee said "No," to this, they had to explain why.

    The employees were then asked to sign the second part of the document promising to carry out their responsibilities "in accordance with and not contrary to" the current edition of the BF&M.

    King said it was possible for an employee to say "No" on the first part, as long as their differences with the BF&M were minor and they signed the second part.

    Hutchinson, Escobar and Pickle would not sign the second part, King said.

    "They said they couldn't work according to the guidelines of the Southern Baptist Convention," he said.

    King said NAMB sees the BF&M as guidance for SBC agencies.

    "That's different from a creed which is forced on a local church, an association or a state convention," he said. "A local church is autonomous from the Southern Baptist Convention, but the agencies are not. They are owned by the Southern Baptist Convention."

    Hutchinson said he told his supervisors why he could not sign. He said he objects to three parts of the revised BF&M:

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    8/3/2001 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments
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