State convention meetings reflect harmony and rancor
December 7 2001 by Bob Allen , Associated Baptist Press

State convention meetings reflect harmony and rancor | Friday, Dec. 7, 2001

Friday, Dec. 7, 2001

State convention meetings reflect harmony and rancor

By Bob Allen Associated Baptist Press JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Rancor between moderates and conservatives was noticeably absent in some of the Southern Baptist Convention's (SBC) state and regional meetings this fall. In others, however, it reached new heights.

Nowhere was the rancor clearer than in Missouri. Conservatives controlling the Missouri Baptist Convention, angered by the defection of several moderate-led agencies to move to self-perpetuating trustee boards in the last year, voted to hold in escrow $2 million earmarked for five entities and prepared to go to court, if necessary, to recover their control.

In separate action on Oct. 30-31, Missouri Baptists unseated messengers from Second Baptist Church in Liberty because the church voted to leave the SBC. A credentials committee said the state convention constitution requires member churches to also belong to the SBC. Critics disputed the committee's interpretation.

While some moderate-led state conventions have said churches may relate to them without supporting the SBC, Missouri becomes the first major state convention to formally require loyalty to the SBC.

The Alaska and Utah-Idaho state conventions reaffirmed SBC ties and endorsed recent revisions to the "Baptist Faith and Message."

Highlights from other Baptist state conventions include:

Arkansas - The Arkansas Baptist State Convention, meeting on Nov. 6-7, passed a resolution denouncing Harry Potter, saying the popular children's book series promotes pagan beliefs and practices. The resolution states in part: "We will firmly denounce and speak out against any books or materials that promote witchcraft, sorcery and the casting of spells and the making of charms and specifically the Harry Potter book series and subsequent materials."

In other business, the convention elected conservatives to three convention offices and took the first of two votes to establish the 2000 "Baptist Faith and Message" as the convention's doctrinal guide.

California - California Southern Baptists focused on unity and worship in their Nov. 13-14 gathering. Business items included a record budget and the re-election of convention officers by acclamation.

Florida - The Florida Baptist State Convention changed its constitution to allow the president to serve a second one-year term. They elected Dwayne Mercer, pastor of First Baptist Church in Oviedo, as president. He was unopposed.

Georgia - The Georgia Baptist Convention passed a resolution calling for a ban on human cloning for any reason. The statement, adopted at the Nov. 12-13 meeting, called for limiting stem-cell research to "ethically responsible sources," such as adult stem cells.

Wayne Robertson, pastor of Morningside Baptist Church in Valdosta, easily won the convention presidency in a meeting characterized as harmonious.

Hawaii - Hawaii Baptists defeated a proposed constitutional amendment to change the convention statement of faith from the "Baptist Faith and Message, 1963 version" to "any version that has been adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention." An alternate amendment to change the wording to "The Baptist Faith and Message as adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention" was tabled.

Illinois - Anticipating a polarized convention, the Illinois Baptist State Convention backed off confrontations over several items at its Nov. 7-8 meeting. Some disagreement erupted during discussion of a motion to affirm six statements of faith - the Baptist Faith and Message of 1925 and its three revisions in 1963, 1998 and 2000 as well as two earlier confessions of faith. The motion passed overwhelmingly.

A constitution-and-bylaws committee pulled the first reading of an amendment making the "2000 Baptist Faith and Message" the official statement of faith of the Illinois Baptist State Association. The committee said it needed more time to study the matter in light of the previous action.

A resolutions committee also agreed to withdraw a proposed statement on unity, which some found more divisive than unifying.

Indiana - Meeting for the first time in the northeast part of the state, the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana, on Oct. 30-31, honored executive director Charles Sullivan for his 10 years of service.

Kentucky - Avoiding an up-or-down vote on controversial doctrines in the 2000 edition of the "Baptist Faith and Message," Kentucky Baptists overwhelmingly approved a report, during its Nov. 13-14 meeting, acknowledging "value" of faith statements while terming the Bible "the basis for all our faith and practice."

The report followed a yearlong study by a committee charged with recommending how the Kentucky Baptist Convention "can best relate" to the "Baptist Faith and Message" as adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention in 2000.

Louisiana - Louisiana Baptists underscored support of the SBC Cooperative Program and affirmed biblical inerrancy in resolutions adopted during their Nov. 12-13 annual meeting.

The resolution concerning the Bible noted that Baptists have always believed the Bible to be the "holy, inspired, written Word of God." It declared "that the Bible is inerrant, infallible, true, trustworthy, without mixture of error and that, singularly or together, these words mean that every statement and word of the Scripture is absolutely accurate concerning every field of knowledge it discusses."

Mississippi - Mississippi Baptists on Oct. 30-31 elected veteran pastor and former seminary president Frank Pollard as president.

Oklahoma - The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma conducted routine business, including adoption of a resolution reaffirming ties with the Southern Baptist Convention. Anthony Jordan, executive director of the state convention, commended Oklahoma Baptists for their unity: "Our pattern in Oklahoma is to pray for the Lord's leadership, rather than politicking for our person or party."

South Carolina - South Carolina Baptists approved resolutions urging prayers for America, opposing a state lottery and embryonic stem-cell research, supporting public displays of the Ten Commandments and affirming the Southern Baptist Convention and its 2000 "Baptist Faith and Message."

Meeting Nov. 13-14, the only debate surrounded a resolution endorsing the "Baptist Faith and Message," as messengers defeated a motion to defer the matter until next year for additional study.

Tennessee - Tennessee Baptists voted to extend for a second year a committee studying whether to increase powers of the president of the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Tennessee is the only Southern Baptist state convention not giving its president authority to make appointments to key leadership posts.

In a setback to conservatives, however, an amendment passed expanding the current committee to include all former state convention presidents still living in Tennessee. Some of those former presidents have publicly opposed increasing the office's power.

Texas - In a meeting marked with little dissent, the Baptist General Convention of Texas declined to affirm the 2000 version of the "Baptist Faith and Message." The Oct. 29-30 convention attracted the smallest crowd since 1979.

Meeting nearby, a rival state convention, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, marked its third year by reporting rapid growth. Registration topped 1,000 for the first time, and the number of affiliated churches reached 900.

Virginia - The Baptist General Association of Virginia elected a new executive director John Upton, who takes over March 1 when Reginald McDonough retires after 15 years.

An alternative conservative Virginia Baptist convention, meanwhile, celebrated its fifth anniversary by reporting steady growth with a total of 334 churches. "We are but one or two generations from returning Virginia to its conservative biblical roots," said Doyle Chauncey, the executive director/treasurer of the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia.

West Virginia - The West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists were introduced to a new executive director elected just prior to their Nov. 2-3 annual meeting. Terry Harper, pastor of Colonial Heights Baptist Church in Colonial Heights, Va., assumed the post on Dec. 1.

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12/7/2001 12:00:00 AM by Bob Allen , Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments
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