Asheville church defunds association
January 31 2003 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

Asheville church defunds association | Friday, Jan. 31, 2003

Friday, Jan. 31, 2003

Asheville church defunds association

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor

Asheville's First Baptist Church has voted to stop funding the association it helped start in 1885.

Guy Sayles, pastor of the church, said the church voted to "defund" the Buncombe Baptist Association, but stopped short of withdrawing completely. The vote came Jan. 8 at the church's regular business meeting.

Sayles said the church will take the $13,000 that it would have sent to the association and instead give it to a regional group of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) churches just forming in the western part of North Carolina.

The church has taken no action on possible withdrawal from the Baptist State Convention, but is keeping all its denominational relationships under "periodic review," Sayles said.

He said the church will pay the final installment of a $2,000 a year commitment to help fund a building project in the association.

"Since we made a commitment, we ought to honor it," he said.

Sayles said the church also remains open to the possibility of cooperating with the association on some other projects.

"The metaphor I've used is the door is closed, but it's not locked," he said.

Ron Kiser, the association's director of missions, changed that image slightly.

"I'd like to think the door's not entirely closed or at least we can knock and they'll still come to the door," he said.

Kiser said the association's constitution allows for the removal of a church that fails to contribute to the association, but that doesn't apply because the church is still giving money to build a ministry center.

"As far as we're concerned they're still a member in good standing," he said.

Kiser said the association's budget is more than $300,000 a year. Total annual receipts are more than $400,000.

"Certainly, were saddened by their decision not to fund us but I don't think it will adversely affect us as far as ministry goes," he said.

The church had been the association's largest contributor until several years ago, when it started decreasing its gifts to the association.

"We're far more concerned about the relationship aspect than we are the financial aspect," Kiser said.

He said he hopes the association and the church can find ways to work together.

"We're here to try to advance the kingdom, not here to take pot shots at our brothers," he said.

The church's move comes less than three months after the association adopted a report that lessens the chances of the association agreeing to fund a church that is affiliated with CBF, but not the more conservative Southern Baptist Convention. The Baptist State Convention has given local association strong say in funding for new churches.

Last year, Carolina Baptist Association effectively vetoed state funding for a church in Hendersonville that was sponsored in part by Asheville First Baptist Church and several other churches.

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1/31/2003 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments
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