Missionary 'transition' could be slow
May 10 2002 by Mark Wingfield , Associated Baptist Press

Missionary 'transition' could be slow | Friday, May 10, 2002

Friday, May 10, 2002

Missionary 'transition' could be slow

By Mark Wingfield Associated Baptist Press

DALLAS, Texas - The role of the missionary transition fund established by the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) may take years rather than months to assess, according to convention leaders.

The fund was established earlier this year to provide assistance to Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) missionaries who resign or are fired for refusing to sign an affirmation of the SBC's 2000 Baptist Faith and Message.

Missionaries will need this assistance over a period of months ahead, said Don Sewell, director of the Texas Partnerships Resource Center of the BGCT. Decisions leading to immediate resignation or termination are being made in few cases, he said.

The SBC's International Mission Board has not set a firm deadline for missionaries to sign the faith statement.

"Some missionaries are deciding to resign, while others are simply not signing the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message and willing to face any consequences while staying on the field," Sewell said.

"The bulk of people are going to be coming very, very slowly," Sewell said. "This might be a two-year process."

By the end of April, the "transitions" e-mail address established by the BGCT had received 66 contacts from active missionaries, said Steve Seaberry, equipping director of the Texas Partnerships Center. Nine of these either have resigned from the IMB or will be resigning within the next few weeks. One has decided to take an early retirement.

"We have started giving financial assistance to one family," Seaberry said. "Another family will begin receiving assistance in May; yet another will arrive in the States in June and will begin receiving assistance in September. This pattern continues."

The BGCT also has heard from missionaries on four continents who are taking early retirement rather than sign the faith statement - missionaries who will not need financial aid.

As of April 30, the BGCT had in hand cash gifts to the missionary transition fund of $1.08 million. An additional $250,000 gift in stocks was in process at that date also.

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5/10/2002 12:00:00 AM by Mark Wingfield , Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments
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