Tuckaseigee reverses course on WMU
December 13 2002 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

Tuckaseigee reverses course on WMU | Friday, Dec. 13, 2002

Friday, Dec. 13, 2002

Tuckaseigee reverses course on WMU

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor

The Tuckaseigee Baptist Association (TBA) Executive Committee has decided to let the Woman's Missionary Union (WMU) use the association's building, reversing a decision it made two months ago.

Claude Conard, interim director of missions for TBA, resigned shortly after the decision and immediately left the Executive Committee meeting Dec. 9.

When reached at his home by telephone, Conard indicated that he was retiring effective Jan. 1. He had little to say before hanging up on a reporter.

"I put up with that mess over there long enough," he said. "I'd just as soon y'all not bother me any more. Good-bye."

Art Fowler, TBA's moderator and pastor of Cashiers Baptist Church in Cashiers, said he hopes Conard will reconsider. "I think he is just deflated emotionally," Fowler said.

The TBA Executive Committee adopted a resolution at the Dec. 9 meeting that says the WMU is "most welcome" to use the building and promote its work through the TBA newsletter, according to Fowler.

The resolution was adopted after a phrase saying WMU should be "led by and composed of members of churches" in the TBA was deleted, Fowler said.

The Executive Committee had adopted a policy for using the building at its Oct. 7 meeting. The policy said only the association and its related organizations can use the building.

Associational leaders interpreted the policy as excluding WMU because its co-directors are from churches that have pulled out of the association. Sarah Davis is a member of First Baptist Church in Sylva. Nelda Reid is a member of East Sylva Baptist Church.

Davis said the Executive Committee's decision is good news.

"I felt real good about it," she said.

Davis said the WMU had already held two meetings at churches because of the prohibition against using the building.

"We felt like we could do what we needed to do anyway, but it's good to go back to the building," she said.

Fowler, who wrote the original draft of the resolution, said there was some "lively interaction" during the discussion.

Among those taking part in the debate was Harry D. Vance, a retired minister who is now interim pastor at Greens Creek Baptist Church in Sylva. Vance served three other churches in the association as pastor, was director of music for the association for 19 years and also served as the TBA's treasurer.

"I spoke quite a bit concerning the WMU and how the Tuckaseigee Baptist Association had no authority over it," he said in an interview with the Recorder.

Vance said he has always believed in the WMU.

"I told them, 'You take these women out and you're not going to have much left,'" he said.

Vance said that comment was met with several "Amens," from those present.

"Our ladies are hurt," Vance said. "Our churches are hurt. We need a good visitation from the Lord."

Vance is a member of East Sylva Baptist Church which has pulled out of the association. He said he wanted the church to stay.

Vance said he thinks the move to bar the WMU from using the building "opened the eyes of a lot of pastors who had been going along."

He's unsure if the decision to let WMU use the building will lead some churches to return.

"It's going to take different leadership all the way through," he said.

Debate over the WMU is the latest controversy in the TBA, which started when the Pastors' Conference complained about Cullowhee Baptist Church calling a woman as co-pastor. The struggle has led six churches to leave the association this year.

Some churches left because they believed the association was threatening the autonomy of local churches. Other churches said they were tired of the conflict.

Scotts Creek Baptist Church voted on Dec. 8 to suspend its ties to the TBA, according to a report in the Sylva Herald.

"This action occurred because it is felt that the conduct of the association has not been in keeping with the character of Christ and because it is felt that this present turmoil does not further the work of the Lord in this community," said a statement prepared by Rich Peoples, the church's pastor.

The church's deacons recommended the suspension when the TBA barred the WMU from its building.

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12/13/2002 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments
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