TBA committee affirms BF&M 2000 in closed meeting
July 12 2002 by Steve DeVane and Derek Hodges , BR staff

TBA committee affirms BF&M 2000 in closed meeting | Friday, July 12, 2002

Friday, July 12, 2002

TBA committee affirms BF&M 2000 in closed meeting

By Steve DeVane and Derek Hodges BR staff

The Tuckaseigee Baptist Association's (TBA) Executive Committee voted behind closed doors July 8 to affirm the 2000 version of the Southern Baptist Convention's Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M 2000).

The move is not binding on the association as a whole.

During the same closed-door meeting, the Executive Committee voted to ask the association's credentials committee to "counsel" Cullowhee Baptist Church and First Baptist Church in Sylva over matters of faith and practice. A motion for the association to break fellowship with the two churches was ruled out of order.

At issue is Cullowhee's calling a woman co-pastor and the Sylva church's support of Cullowhee's right to make that move.

Mike Dellinger, the association's moderator and pastor of Webster Baptist Church in Webster, and three other pastors in the association spoke to the Recorder about the votes. The interim director of missions (DOM), Claude Conard, declined to comment on the meeting because it was closed to the public.

Tonya Vickery, co-pastor at Cullowhee, said the votes for the BF&M 2000, to counsel the churches and to close the meeting were about 40-15.

The vote to affirm the BF&M 2000 did not include a recommendation that the TBA as a whole affirm the statement.

The 2000 BF&M says that the office of pastor is limited to men. Tonya Vickery and her husband, Jeffrey, became co-pastors of the Cullowhee church in January.

The 2000 revision to the BF&M also deleted a line that said the "criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ."

Sylva First Baptist Church adopted a resolution in April supporting Cullowhee. The resolution says that First Baptist Church takes "an unshakable and immovable stance that Jesus Christ, rather than the Bible, is the final authority on all matters of faith and practice."

The Executive Committee's request that the credentials committee counsel the two churches comes about two and a half months after the credentials committee voted 3-2 that Cullowhee is in violation of the association's bylaws. The committee recommended that the church's messengers not be seated at the association's annual meeting in October and said the church should be removed from the TBA "unless corrective action is taken."

The report of the credentials committee was not on the Executive Committee's agenda at the July 8 meeting, Conard said.

Tonya Vickery said that she and two other members of her church voted for the Executive Committee's motion that the credentials committee counsel the churches. She said representatives of the church tried, but failed, to meet with the committee previously.

"We invite conversation," she said. "We don't invite someone telling us what to do."

Vickery said she found more support at the meeting than she expected.

Some of that support came from East Sylva Baptist Church. Pastor Charles Dean walked out of the meeting rather than participate in the closed session.

"I've been here 36 years. I've been in a whole bunch of association meetings," he said. "I've never, ever participated in a closed meeting."

Dean said he believes the 2000 BF&M was adopted as a "foundation for exclusion" so association leaders could point to it as the reason for voting out Cullowhee and Sylva First. East Sylva will likely withdraw from the association if it adopts the 2000 BF&M or kicks out Cullowhee, he said.

Wayne Hill, pastor of Sylva First, said his church "will not back off from supporting the Cullowhee church." He said if the association removes Cullowhee, his church would consider pulling out.

"I think if it got down to that being what we could do to support the Cullowhee Church, we would absolutely do that," Hill said.

Sylva First, East Sylva and Cullowhee gave nearly a fourth of the association's total church support in the 2000-2001 fiscal year, according to the association's financial information summary. The $9,600 in contributions accounted for more than 21 percent of the association's total receipts that year.

Most of the contributions were from Sylva First, which gave $8,400 to the association that year. The church was the association's biggest financial supporter.

Conard, the interim DOM, said information about the meeting should not have been revealed to the Recorder. Robert's Rules of Order, which the association uses as its rules of procedure, says a member of a group can be punished if he or she violates the secrecy of an executive session, he said. The punishment could include a reprimand, a fine, a suspension or expulsion, he said.

"That would be handled in the association," Conard said.

Dellinger said the association's parliamentarian had told him that he was allowed to reveal "factual information" about the meeting.

"Legally, I can give you factual information about the votes that took place," he said. "Looking at Robert's Rules of Order, I don't think I violated anything by giving you factual information."

Conard said it would be "unethical" for the Recorder to publish details of the meeting. He initially hinted that the Recorder could face legal action if it published the information, but later backed off that position.

Conard said Steve Bialy, pastor of Greens Creek Baptist Church in Sylva, contacted the Christian Law Association in Florida regarding the issue.

Bialy said he contacted the group to find out if Tuckaseigee association's Executive Committee had to vote in public. The legal group told him the committee was a private organization that did not have to conduct business in public.

Bialy, who made the motion to break fellowship with the two churches, said it would be "incorrect" to say the Recorder could face legal action for publishing the information.

"But that information is not supposed to be shared," he said. "I would consider it highly unethical and unchristian."

Bialy, who is leaving the association July 21 for a New Jersey church, declined to discuss the meeting or his personal views about the issues.

Despite the differing views in the association, Dellinger and Vickery were encouraged by parts of the meeting.

Dellinger said that while one of the votes was being counted, the Executive Committee paused to pray for a pastor who had a brain tumor.

"It was powerful," he said. "It showed the whole association what we can do together for the cause of Christ."

Vickery said she was treated kindly by some of those who opposed her position.

"God will create something good out of the mess," she said. "I have full confidence in that."

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
7/12/2002 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane and Derek Hodges , BR staff | with 0 comments
Filed under:

Blog post currently doesn't have any comments.