NAMB leader sees D.C. as unique
January 11 2002 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

NAMB leader sees D.C. as unique | Friday, Jan. 11, 2002

Friday, Jan. 11, 2002

NAMB leader sees D.C. as unique

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor FAYETTEVILLE - The North American Mission Board's (NAMB) concerns with the District of Columbia Baptist Convention (DCBC) do not extend to other state conventions, the head of NAMB said. But NAMB President Bob Reccord left open the possibility that NAMB will deal with issues it feels need to be addressed. He spoke in an interview with the Recorder Jan. 7 shortly after he spoke at the State Evangelism Conference.

NAMB, an agency of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), informed DCBC of its concerns in an Oct. 24 letter. NAMB annually provides DCBC with $475,000, about a third of DCBC's budget.

The DCBC receives about twice what the DCBC's churches give to the SBC through the Cooperative Program. Most state conventions give the SBC much more than they receive from NAMB.

NAMB said it wanted a NAMB representative to supervise DCBC employees partially or totally funded by NAMB. The proposal also said DCBC should not promote cultural festivals that include non-Christian religious groups, should not print articles in its newspaper that "denigrate the SBC and its leadership nor any of it agencies," should have speakers at its meetings that "reflect the theological tenets of the SBC," and should follow the biblical pattern of Matthew 18 when criticizing the SBC.

The SBC has taken a decidedly conservative shift theologically since 1979. Some state conventions have followed the rightward move, but others have resisted.

Reccord said that he knows of no other theological concerns with state Baptist conventions similar to those NAMB has expressed with the DCBC.

"This is a unique situation," he said. "This (DCBC) is the only triply aligned convention in the United States in Southern Baptist life."

The DCBC is aligned with the SBC, the American Baptist Churches, U.S.A., and the Progressive National Baptist Convention. NAMB's proposal took issue with the American Baptists' stances on abortion, homosexuality and women pastors.

While no other state convention with SBC connections is related to those two groups, three state conventions, including the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, allow their churches to give money to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF).

The CBF was formed in 1991 as a missions and ministry alternative to the SBC. SBC leaders have criticized CBF and the SBC's Baptist Press often publishes articles critical of CBF.

When asked about state conventions with ties to CBF, Reccord said, "You know, the only way we would be responding to anything from any other (state convention) is if it arises. Anywhere along the journey if things arise that we feel need to be addressed we'll address them, but only at that time."

Reccord said BSC officials need not worry about getting a similar proposal.

"I praise God for (BSC Executive Director-treasurer) Jim Royston," he said. "I've known him for a number of years to be a man of incredible ethics and tremendous integrity."

Reccord said NAMB is in "open communication" with DCBC about its concerns. He wouldn't say what might happen if the DCBC decided against NAMB's proposal.

"We'll just have to walk through the process and see where each step takes us," he said.

Reccord said the proposal was not a mandate or ultimatum.

"In fact, ... we started out the proposal saying we are seeking to find a win-win method of strengthening the partnership," he said. "That's kind of hard to get to an ultimatum from that kind of wording."

DCBC officials have reacted strongly to the proposal. Jeffrey Haggray, the DCBC executive director, has said it "offends fundamental principles of Baptist polity such as autonomy, priesthood of all believers and soul freedom."

In the Dec. 6 issue of the Capital Baptist, the DCBC newspaper, Haggray said the proposal would "surrender the direction and control" of DCBC programs to Reccord and would turn the DCBC into "the only NAMB-run state convention in the nation."

In the interview with the Recorder, Reccord said the proposal is not a threat to DCBC's autonomy.

"The (DCBC) has the full autonomy to decide what they will do, how they will do it and when they are going to do it," he said. "That's totally in their autonomy.

"We wouldn't even want to even begin to insinuate a desire to control that. That's not our job."

Reccord called autonomy "a real key part of Southern Baptist life."

"In the same way we wouldn't want anybody infringing on the North American Mission Board's autonomy," he said.

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1/11/2002 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments
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