BF&M reaction voted top news story
January 4 2001 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

BF&M reaction voted top news story | Thursday, Jan. 4, 2001

Thursday, Jan. 4, 2001

BF&M reaction voted top news story

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor Tar Heel Baptists' reaction to changes in the Southern Baptist Convention's (SBC) Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M) was voted the top story of 2000 by the Biblical Recorder editorial staff. The response to the B& revisions was the staff's unanimous pick as the top story.

Messengers to the SBC annual meeting in June voted overwhelmingly to change the B&, which was last revised in 1963. The statement was amended in 1998 to add an article on the family which called on wives to submit graciously to their husbands.

Critics of the 2000 revision say it turns the B& into a creed, elevates the Bible above Jesus and de-emphasizes cherished Baptist beliefs. They point to a reference added to the statement that confessions of faith are "instruments of doctrinal accountability," to the deletion of Jesus as "the criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted," and to revisions that change the understanding of church autonomy, soul competency and the priesthood of the believer.

Supporters say the new B& cements conservatives' conviction that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. They say Southern Baptist employees should agree with the statement, that Jesus can only be known through the Scriptures and that the changes reflect current Southern Baptist beliefs.

N.C. Baptist reaction to the revision didn't entirely follow theological and political lines. Joe B. Brown, pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte and a prominent conservative, preached a sermon against a statement that only women can be pastors.

But much of the concern over the changes came from moderate Baptists, who have organized in North Carolina more formally than they have in years.

The moderates' organizational effort was the second most important story in 2000, according to the survey of Recorder staff. After a few informal meetings, moderates held a series of meetings across the state to discuss the B& changes.

Later, a Mainstream Baptist group was formed. Mainstream groups are patterned after Texas Baptist Committed, a group largely credited with preventing a conservative takeover of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

About 600 people attended a "Laity Conference," just before the BSC annual meeting in November. For the first time since records of clergy-laity attendance were kept, the laity attending the meeting outnumbered the clergy.

Moderates attending the BSC meeting were able to amend a resolution affirming the BSC's ties to the conservative-dominated SBC. The passage of the resolution, which also affirmed the BSC's autonomy and giving options, was voted the third most important story of 2000.

Supporters of the amendment said the BSC is not an SBC franchise and needed to clearly state its autonomy. Critics said the SBC has not infringed on the autonomy of state conventions.

The amendment was seen as a victory for moderates, who also won two of the three BSC offices for the first time in several years.

The election of two moderates to the BSC vice presidencies was the fourth most important story in 2000, according to the survey.

Buddy Corbin, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Asheville, was elected first vice president. Larry Harper, pastor of Forest Hills Baptist Church in Raleigh, won the second vice president's post.

Mike Cummings, director of missions for Burnt Swamp Association, was re-elected president without opposition. He is a conservative but is well-liked by moderates as well.

The three officers form a committee to nominate N.C. Baptists to the Committee on Committees, which nominates the Committee on Nominations, which nominates members of the General Board and trustees and directors of N.C. Baptist agencies and institutions. The General Board must approve nominees to the Committee on Committees.

Other top stories for 2000, according to the survey:

(5) N.C. Baptists purchase a leadership center at Lake Hickory.

The BSC purchased the 31-acre center from Duke Energy for $3 million. The center was named the Wyndolyn Royster Hollifield Leadership Center after Hollifield contributed $1 million toward its purchase.

(6) The BSC General Board adopts a statement affirming its current hiring practices.

The move was seen as a pro-active stance against potential efforts to require General Board employees to affirm the revised B&.

(7) The General Board adopts "Mobilizing Baptists for Ministry" as its mission statement.

The mission statement is intended to guide the staff in its efforts to encourage and assist the 1.2 million N.C. Baptists affiliated with the BSC.

(8-tie) Wake Forest University (WFU) remains in BSC.

WFU kept its fraternal ties to the BSC after an amended motion to end the 166-year relationship failed at the annual meeting in November.

The General Board had proposed changing the relationship from fraternal to "historical," but an amendment passed that would have removed the school from the BSC. The amended motion got about 60 percent of a vote but not the needed two-thirds for passage.

(8-tie) BSC General Board works toward cooperation.

The General Board elected Harper, a moderate, as its president, and Eugene Ridley, a conservative as vice president, during a harmonious election in February. Both were elected without opposition.

Harper was nominated by David Horton of Jamestown, a conservative. Ridley, pastor of Long Leaf Baptist Church in Wilmington, was nominated by Carolyn Hill of Wilson, a moderate.

(10) New International Mission Board (IMB) approach to volunteer missions surprises some N.C. Baptists.

The IMB is implementing a new field strategy steering short-term volunteer teams away from church construction projects, the main activity during many mission trips. The IMB's new focus is the development of "church-planting movements."

Some N.C. Baptists, who have been leaders in volunteer missions, were upset that the IMB called construction of church buildings on mission fields "well-intentioned obstacles" and "stumbling blocks."

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1/4/2001 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments
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