Mainstream seeks to bring Baptist currents together
January 26 2001 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

Mainstream seeks to bring Baptist currents together | Friday, Jan. 26, 2001

Friday, Jan. 26, 2001

Mainstream seeks to bring Baptist currents together

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor GREENSBORO - Speakers at a Mainstream Baptists of North Carolina (MBNC) meeting Jan. 23 took great pains to appeal to conservatives, but clearly voiced their opposition to fundamentalism. About 180 people from across the state gathered at Greensboro's First Baptist Church to organize a MBNC steering committee, talk about raising money, plan future events and discuss ways to recruit members.

Mainstream organizers hope the group will appeal to the large number of N.C. Baptists believed to be on neither extreme of the 20-year controversy between conservative and moderate Baptists. But speakers at the Greensboro meeting made it clear that they hope to keep one group from gaining control of the Baptist State Convention (BSC) the way conservatives have dominated the national Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).

MBNC was formed last year. Most of its members are considered moderate Baptists, but several speakers at the Greensboro meeting took issue with that term.

"We're not moderates," said Don Gordon, pastor of First Baptist Church in Mount Olive and chairman of the group's steering committee. "I hope we can ditch that word."

Ken Massey, pastor of the host church, told members of the press not to call the gathering a moderate meeting. He said MBNC will try to protect the BSC from fundamentalism from the right or the left side of the theological spectrum.

"I believe Mainstream Baptists can be the movement to dissolve the aisle between those who have been called moderates and those who have been called conservatives," he said.

David Crocker, pastor of Snyder Memorial Baptist Church in Fayetteville and moderator of the meeting, said MBNC wants to have "as broad a tent as possible." He said MBNC is not related to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) because that might make "a host of N.C. Baptists" less likely to be involved with MBNC.

"We want to work with anyone and everyone who wants to work with us" and believes in MBNC's values, Crocker said.

Crocker said that although there are some MBNC members who support CBF, there are also some MBNC supporters who have never been a part of CBF. Mike Queen, pastor of First Baptist Church in Wilmington, said several CBF churches have made it clear that they do not want to be part of MBNC.

"I can assure you that Mainstream is in no way a child of or extension of CBF of North Carolina or national CBF," Crocker said.

The national CBF organization formed in 1991 as a missions and ministry alternative to the conservative-dominated SBC.

Jim Burch, a member of First Baptist Church in Greensboro, said political activism in other states is not related to CBF.

"For us to be successful, we're going to have to have some political activism ourselves," he said.

Massey said one reason MBNC exists is the BSC is vulnerable. Supporting the BSC is part of MBNC's mission statement.

MBNC can make sure that the politics in the BSC are Christian rather than "hardball" or exclusionary, Massey said.

Tim Dannelly, a layman from Edenton Baptist Church in Edenton, talked about who Mainstream Baptists are. He said Mainstream Baptists follow Jesus, oppose fundamentalism and uphold traditional Baptist beliefs.

Mainstream Baptist churches have members from across the theological spectrum, Dannelly said.

"Your Mainstream church throws its arms and hearts open to the world," he said.

In contrast, fundamentalist churches usually have only fundamentalists who are expected to get in line with the church's beliefs. "They know God's will for your life and sometimes tell you what that is," Dannelly said.

Gordon said MBNC must be "strong and courageous" to oppose fundamentalism, which he called "a perversion of the gospel of Jesus Christ."

"The world is going to continue to make judgments about Jesus Christ based, in part, on the witness of the people called Baptists," he said.

Dannelly said Mainstream churches nourish the priesthood of every believer.

"We want people to have a relationship with Jesus Christ," he said. "The priesthood of every single believer is important to us."

Mainstream Baptists believe in the separation of church and state, Dannelly said. "We believe in letting politicians be politicians and letting the church be the church," he said.

David Hughes, pastor of Winston-Salem's First Baptist Church, said MBNC will need to hire a full-time head of the organization. He said a MBNC work group set a goal of raising $100,000 within the next year.

Tim Cannon, pastor of Flat Rock Baptist Church in Hamptonville, led a work group discussing the Laity Conference, which will be sponsored by MBNC for the second time in November. The group mentioned former President Jimmy Carter and Anne Graham Lotz as possible speakers, he said.

Joy Heaton, pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Enfield, said a work group focusing on membership and recruitment recommended that MBNC "do what people on the Conservative Record do" - send a newsletter to every N.C. Baptist church.

The Conservative Record is published by Conservative Carolina Baptists, a conservative N.C. Baptist group.

Crocker said about a fourth of the BSC's 3,800 churches are in the MBNC's 4,800-name database. The others will be added, he said.

In addition to Gordon, the members of the steering committee, their church, hometown, vocation and year their term expires are Eugene Bain, Fayetteville First Baptist Church, Fayetteville, insurance, 2002; Wilma Cosper, Cullowhee Baptist Church, Cullowhee, retired, 2002; Matt Ingram, Hickory First Baptist Church, Granite Falls, educator; Wally Pasour, Mebane First Baptist Church, Haw River, engineer, 2002; Kathryn Hamrick, Boiling Springs Baptist Church, Boiling Springs, insurance, 2003; Alicia Porterfield, Sanford First Baptist Church, Sanford, chaplain, 2003; Roy Smith, Crabtree Valley Baptist Church, Raleigh, retired, 2003; Don Taft, Pritchard Memorial Baptist Church, Charlotte, retired, 2003; Bob Millis, Ogden Baptist Church, Wilmington, pastor, 2003; Jo Godfrey, High Point First Baptist Church, High Point, business owner, 2004; Ann Hiott, Raleigh First Baptist Church, Chapel Hill, physician, 2004; Mike Smith, Fruitland Baptist Church, Hendersonville, pastor, 2004; and Jerry Wallace, Memorial Baptist Church, Buies Creek, educator, 2004.

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1/26/2001 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments
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