First church withdraws from BSC
January 24 2003 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

First church withdraws from BSC | Friday, Jan. 24, 2003

Friday, Jan. 24, 2003

First church withdraws from BSC

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor

Conservatives had controlled the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) for years before the first moderate churches started officially pulling out.

One N.C. Baptist church has decided to leave the Baptist State Convention (BSC) while an uneasy truce still holds between conservatives and moderates.

First Baptist Church of Newland sent a letter to BSC leaders after its members decided Jan. 15 to leave the organization. The church decided at the same time to pull out of the Avery Association and the SBC, effectively becoming a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) church.

Bill Jones, pastor of the church, said the congregation quit contributing money to the SBC about five years ago.

Jones said he believes the SBC's 2000 revision of the Baptist Faith and Message "eradicated the priesthood of the believer, soul competency and local church autonomy."

The church has been sending its money to the BSC's Plan C, which goes to the BSC, CBF and several other groups.

The decision at the BSC meeting in November to study Plan C convinced Jones that some in the BSC didn't want CBF churches in the BSC.

"It just looks like Plan C is going to be shot," he said.

Jones said the church holds no ill will toward the BSC or the association.

"We're just looking for a more positive atmosphere," he said

BSC Executive Director-treasurer Jim Royston said he is sad to see the church leave. Royston and Milton Hollifield, the BSC's head of missions growth evangelism and a friend of Jones, called the church.

"I certainly regret they have chosen to do this," Royston said. "I tried to encourage them to perhaps wait until later in the year before making a decision."

Many convention observers believe action taken regarding the Plan C at the BSC annual meeting in November could be crucial to the future of the BSC. Some believe more moderate churches will pull out if Plan C is removed or significantly altered.

Royston said the church is the first to officially pull out of the BSC because of the conservative-moderate controversy.

"They assured us there was no animosity toward the BSC, and that they left as friends," he said. "I told them as long as I had anything to do with it, we'd leave the light on for them."

Jones said he thinks other churches might also leave the BSC while others will be dually aligned with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina (CBF-NC). The church will now divide its missions giving between CBF, CBF-NC and a regional CBF group that is just forming in the western part of North Carolina, he said.

Jones said about 55 people attended the regular church business meeting when the vote to change the church's bylaws was taken. That's about the usual number for the church's quarterly business meeting, he said.

The church held forums on the issue each Wednesday for about a month before the vote, Jones said. No one opposed the action.

"We don't see it as something that's negative," he said. "We just want to move beyond the wrangling."

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1/24/2003 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments
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