Moving forward despite SBC rebuff
February 8 2002 by Bill Webb , Associated Baptist Press

Moving forward despite SBC rebuff | Friday, Feb. 8, 2002
  • To escrow Cooperative Program funds for five institutions with boards that took action to elect their own trustees;
  • A "decision to pursue legal action against these institutions;" and
  • The application of "new qualifications established for leadership and membership" in the MBC.

    The statement also responded to four reasons in Chapman's letter for not recognizing the new convention:

  • First, they took issue with Chapman's suggestion that the BGCM should not be recognized because the SBC already has a relationship with the MBC.

    "Of course, the SBC already had a relationship with Southern Baptists in Virginia and Texas, but that did not keep them from developing a new relationship with the new conventions established in these states during recent years," BGCM organizers said.

  • Second, they responded to Chapman's assertion that "many of those persons opposing the current direction of the Missouri Baptist Convention are the same ones who have been opposing the direction of the Southern Baptist Convention in recent years and who have been attempting to dissuade churches in Missouri from supporting our work."

    On the contrary, according to the news release: "The individuals that are represented in the workgroup leadership for the new convention are members in some of Missouri's oldest and most historic churches. A number of these churches are and have been among the leaders in Cooperative Program gifts as well as support for the Southern Baptist mission offerings for many years.

    "These churches have been and continue to be loyal Southern Baptists. It is absurd to imply that they are not in 'friendly cooperation' with the purposes and work of the Southern Baptist Convention."

  • Third, Chapman asserted in his letter that the proposed convention "plans to incorporate practices contrary to the best interests of the Southern Baptist Convention."

    "How can it be contrary to the interests of the Southern Baptist Convention to allow Southern Baptist congregations that have formed an autonomous state convention to forward Cooperative Program funds to SBC causes?" BGCM leaders asked.

  • Fourth, the leaders took issue with Chapman's suggestion that a new partnership would "tend to confuse the churches and complicate their financial support of the SBC" and that "Missouri churches do not need another avenue for getting their support to the SBC."

    "We believe the Missouri Baptists are clearly capable of understanding the processes involved, and we do not believe it would complicate their support of the SBC," the leaders said. "In fact, requiring churches to send the national portion of Cooperative Program gifts directly to the SBC complicates the process."

    BGCM organizers said another option is needed in Missouri because 11 percent of CP funds sent to the MBC will be placed in escrow rather than used for their intended purposes. Further, they said, there are no guarantees that the funds will not eventually be used to cover legal fees related to litigation against Missouri Baptist institutions.

    (EDITOR'S NOTE - Bob Allen contributed to this story.)

  • Friday, Feb. 8, 2002

    Moving forward despite SBC rebuff

    By Bill Webb Associated Baptist Press

    JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Plans for a second state Baptist convention in Missouri will move ahead even if the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) doesn't acknowledge the new group or allow it to collect funds for the Cooperative Program unified budget.

    SBC Executive Committee President Morris Chapman said Jan. 25 that he would not recommend that Southern Baptists recognize separate state conventions in Missouri, even though they do so in two other states.

    While breakaway conventions in Virginia and Texas were started by conservatives sympathetic to the SBC, Missouri's new body, scheduled to organize in April, is being supported by moderates, of whom Chapman said he would be "hard pressed to interpret as in friendly cooperation" with the SBC.

    Leaders of what is now being called the Baptist General Convention of Missouri (BGCM) met via conference call on Jan. 31 to draft their response.

    "While the SBC leadership has chosen not to acknowledge or cooperate with the Baptist General Convention of Missouri, we will cooperate with the SBC," new convention leaders said in 1,700-word "open letter" released to the media.

    The release said the group would ask affiliating churches to send the national portion of their Cooperative Program (CP) gifts directly to the Executive Committee's offices in Nashville, Tenn.

    "It is our hope that at some future time the SBC leadership will choose to build a working relationship with the Baptist General Convention of Missouri."

    In the meantime, the convention will collect and distribute funds to agencies of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC), including five that had funding frozen by the MBC after moving to self-perpetuating boards of trustees.

    Leaders of BGCM settled on a new name after opponents filed incorporation papers to block the new group from using the previously announced working name, the Baptist Convention of Missouri.

    Missouri Baptist Laymen's Association members Cindy Province and Kerry Messer, who filed the papers blocking the proposed name, said it was too close to the Missouri Baptist Convention and was designed to confuse the state's Baptists.

    Still, BGCM organizers said they have no desire to fight with the MBC or the SBC. "On the contrary, we desire to build a relationship of cooperation that would enhance our efforts to work together to reach our world for Christ."

    The new convention's leaders say the driving forces behind their venture are actions during the MBC's annual meeting last fall:

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    2/8/2002 12:00:00 AM by Bill Webb , Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments
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