Texas men's group to work with both state conventions
February 28 2003 by John Hall , Associated Baptist Press

Texas men's group to work with both state conventions | Friday, Feb. 28, 2003

Friday, Feb. 28, 2003

Texas men's group to work with both state conventions

By John Hall Associated Baptist Press

AQUILLA, Texas - The executive board of Texas Baptist Men (TBM) adopted a resolution reaffirming the organization's unique relationship with the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) and agreeing to "officially work" with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC), the newer conservative convention.

The board unanimously passed the resolution and faith statement by secret ballot at its Feb. 15 meeting. Board members stood and applauded when the outcome of the vote was announced.

"This permits us to go into every single (Baptist) church in Texas to do the ministry we are called to do," said Andy Andreason, president of Texas Baptist Men. "We want to be able to do what God wants, whenever He wants and wherever He wants."

Although Texas Baptist Men is a self-governing missions affiliate of the BGCT, it is housed in BGCT facilities and depends heavily on the BGCT for funding ($926,888 in 2003).

The new document affirms the "unique affiliation and partnership" with the Baptist General Convention of Texas but also confirms partnerships with other state conventions and the two mission boards of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Lastly, the statement says Texas Baptist Men "will officially work" with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, its churches and associations in a "mutually supportive relationship."

The SBTC is not required to provide any monetary support. "There's no commitment," Andreason said. "There's no money. That's the way we wanted it."

The resolution should unify Texas Baptist Men and quell threats from some SBTC churches to remove their volunteers from the organization, said Leo Smith, interim executive director of TBM and coauthor of the document.

The resolution follows more than two years of negotiations and several unsuccessful attempts to define a working relationship between the three bodies.

In December 2000, Texas Baptist Men declined to sign a formal agreement to enter into a fraternal relationship with the SBTC.

Instead, the men's organization revised its constitution to allow membership for laymen from Baptist churches affiliated with a "Baptist association in Texas, the Baptist General Convention of Texas or the Southern Baptist Convention." Later the TBM executive board adopted a resolution that enabled the group to help any Baptist church in Texas.

Those actions did not satisfy leaders of the new conservative convention, who wanted to be recognized for a working relationship to occur, Smith said at a Texas Baptist Men meeting in February 2002.

At that meeting, a task force presented a resolution that proposed a "working relationship" with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, the Southern Baptist Convention and all Texas associations. A heated discussion followed and, although the resolution was approved 44-15, it was tabled.

The 2003 resolution was presented after months of revision and conversations with leaders of both Texas conventions. The SBTC executive committee will consider the working relationship April 3. The BGCT does not have to offer any further approval of the resolution.

The approved resolution includes a series of theological clarifications of the group's beliefs.

TBM affirmed a belief in the Bible as a completely accurate "final authority" for its faith and practice, salvation by grace, Jesus as the model for ministry and a Christian calling to ministry.

The document does not include the term inerrancy or reference the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message statement.

"I commend Leo Smith on his hard work in helping to clear the way for Texas Baptist Men to work with the men in the SBTC churches," said Charles Wade, executive director of the BGCT.

"Our close and unique relationship with Texas Baptist Men will continue and we will work to encourage and help them to the glory of God."

In a statement, Jim Richards, executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, said the organization "is delighted that Texas Baptist Men want to provide missions services through an official relationship. Hopefully, together we can touch many lives for Jesus."

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2/28/2003 12:00:00 AM by John Hall , Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments
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