D.C. Baptists turn down NAMB governance
March 14 2002 by Bob Allen , Associated Baptist Press

D.C. Baptists turn down NAMB governance | Friday, March 15, 2002
  • Change the DCBC structure so that programs funded by NAMB are distinct from other areas and are overseen by a NAMB strategist.

    In their response, D.C. leaders said the idea would "fragment" the convention's work and "segregate our program and staff along denominational lines." No one has ever questioned the convention's handling and distribution of NAMB funds, they said, and the DCBC has increased its giving to Southern Baptist causes. "We deeply regret NAMB's questioning our stewardship," the response continued.

  • Agree not to promote "cultural festivals" that include non-Christian religions.

    In the response, D.C. leaders said there is no program promoted under that title. Recognizing the autonomy of local churches, however, the leaders said they don't discourage member churches from engaging in interfaith dialogue and collaboration. Rather than implying endorsement of other faiths, they said such relationships provide opportunities for Christian witness and dialogue.

  • The Capital Baptist newspaper should not contain articles that "denigrate" the SBC.

    The response said the newspaper would be careful to label opinions that do not represent official stances of the convention and strive for a "balanced tone."

  • Speakers at DCBC events should represent "theological tenets" of the SBC and that criticism of the SBC follow the pattern in Matthew 18.

    D.C. leaders said they don't believe any speakers have denigrated the SBC, but they don't assume responsibility for oral and written comments of invited speakers. In addition, they said, "We affirm Matthew 18."

  • The NAMB strategist administer all NAMB funds "in consultation with" the DCBC executive director.

    The executive board response welcomed "enhancement" of administration of NAMB funds but said sufficient accountability is already in place to ensure that NAMB funds are distributed in keeping with NAMB policies.

  • The NAMB strategist shall supervise all jointly funded mission personnel.

    "All employees receiving their checks from the DCBC come under supervision of the executive director/minister of the DCBC," the response said. "In our opinion, the introduction of a NAMB strategist would violate basic management principles."

    "After prayerful consideration," the response concluded, "we believe that NAMB's proposed 12-month trial arrangement would promote increased tensions or ill-will between DCBC and NAMB."

    It said Washington Baptists desire to continue and strengthen the historic relationship, and that stated core values and missions of the DCBC and NAMB are consistent. It also affirmed a commitment to comply with the cooperative agreement between the two entities.

    Reccord said through a spokesman March 12 that he hadn't had time to review the response thoroughly, but he is "disappointed that it appears the D.C. convention has rejected NAMB's proposal."

    Reccord said NAMB officials and trustees "will carefully study" the issue before responding. He said he doesn't feel constrained to respond within the 45-day limit, however, noting that the DCBC took nearly six months to respond to the NAMB proposal.

    NAMB spokesman Marty King said he was disappointed that neither agency representatives nor the media were allowed to attend the meeting "in order to better understand" the convention's response.

    Tish Jones, administrative assistant and treasurer for the DCBC, said leaders decided to close the meeting "so the family could discuss its business before we released what we wanted to say." She said a press release was to be issued later.

    Jones said final figures weren't immediately available for the number of registered delegates, but a total head count of people attending the meeting reached 170. The vote on the response to NAMB passed on a show-of-hands vote by a "very obvious" majority, she said.

    Jim Burcham, pastor of First Baptist Church in Upper Marlboro, Md., was one of those against the D.C. response. Burcham, whose suburban church is the D.C. convention's second-largest financial supporter, said he doesn't think the concerns raised by NAMB are unfounded.

    Burcham, a conservative Southern Baptist, said he has been concerned for some time about the leadership of the D.C. convention and predicted his congregation "will be faced with a decision very shortly about what we're going to do" in response.

    Burcham also claimed opposing views were "squelched" at the executive board meeting and that one speaker was shouted down.

  • Friday, March 15, 2002

    D.C. Baptists turn down NAMB governance

    By Bob Allen Associated Baptist Press

    WASHINGTON - The District of Columbia Baptist Convention (DCBC) has refused demands for increased accountability to the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), setting up a showdown that could end 125 years of a joint Baptist witness in the nation's capital.

    In a meeting closed to the press, the DCBC executive board voted March 11 to turn down a series of requests by the SBC North American Mission Board (NAMB) to address a perceived rift between Southern Baptists and the D.C. affiliate.

    Among them was that the DCBC change its organizational structure so that a person directly accountable to Southern Baptists and not DCBC's executive director would administer all funding from NAMB.

    But leaders of the Washington convention said that would "violate basic management principles" in rejecting a 12-month trial period proposed by NAMB to implement the changes.

    The four-page response to the NAMB proposal further requests a formal statement within 45 days from NAMB President Robert Reccord about the agency's intentions concerning the future of its partnership with the DCBC.

    Southern Baptists provide nearly a third of the D.C. convention's $1.5 million annual budget. Most of that comes from NAMB in the form of joint funding of projects outlined in a cooperative agreement.

    Unlike most other state or regional conventions the DCBC isn't aligned solely with the SBC. Historically affiliated with both the SBC and American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A., the group added ties to the predominantly African-American Progressive National Baptist Convention in 1998.

    NAMB officials had cited disagreement with American Baptists in stated positions on abortion, women's ordination and acceptance of gays, saying those differences raised "stewardship" issues about continuing the joint witness.

    In a letter to DCBC leaders last fall, NAMB officials outlined six conditions for continuing the historic partnership:

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    3/14/2002 11:00:00 PM by Bob Allen , Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments
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