C is for Cooperation
May 30 2003 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

C is for Cooperation | Friday, May 30, 2003

Friday, May 30, 2003

C is for Cooperation

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

C is for Cooperation, which is what we Baptists claim to practice. The principle is that, while we belong to congregations that differ in our approaches to ministry and even biblical interpretation, we also have much in common. In cooperation we find fellowship with sister congregations and work together toward mutual goals.

C is for Constitution, which is a document adopted by the convention to define the guidelines governing the ways in which we cooperate. When the founders of the Baptist State Convention (BSC) decided to begin this cooperative enterprise more than 170 years ago, their first order of business was to draft a constitution. They were wise, and the product of their wisdom, though often amended, has served us well.

C is for giving plan C, one of four specific budget plans that have evolved to grease the gears of cooperation among N.C. Baptists. As the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) embarked on an increasingly conservative shift during the past quarter century, some N.C. Baptists felt ever more at home with the SBC, while others felt alienated. Because the Baptist State Convention is an autonomous body whose identity is not defined by the national convention, the giving plans were developed over time as avenues for maintaining cooperation among N.C. Baptists who hold differing levels of loyalty to the SBC. Plan C, in particular, allows N.C. Baptists who feel more affinity with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship to support that organization in the same way other Tar Heel Baptists support the SBC. It recognizes that both national organizations are legitimate avenues for fellowship, missions and ministry.

C is for Consternation, which is felt by some N. C. Baptists who are steadfastly loyal to the SBC in its current incarnation, and who believe the state convention should express a similar fealty. The Baptist State Convention predates the SBC, but has cooperated with it from its inception. In the mid 1920's, during the height of the "$75 million dollar campaign," the BSC added, "to cooperate with the Southern Baptist Convention" to the end of a lengthy sentence in the constitution that describes the convention's several purposes. Some N.C. Baptists believe this mandates an exclusive relationship with the SBC, while others hold that agreeing "to cooperate with" the SBC places no real or implied limits on cooperation with other groups, as well.

C is for Consistent, which is the subject of a question raised at the 2002 convention. Messengers approved a motion that the convention should study the issue of whether Plan C is consistent with the constitution.

C is for Committee, a blue-ribbon panel of knowledgeable Baptists that BSC president Jerry Pereira appointed to investigate the matter and answer the question. The six-member committee was comprised of both conservative and moderate members, including three attorneys who have worked extensively with the BSC constitution.

C is for "Congratulations" to the committee, which required only one meeting to conclude that "inclusion of Plan C in the budget of the Baptist State Convention does not violate the constitution." The committee expressed its reasoning impeccably: "It is neither logically nor legally necessary that each action of the Baptist State Convention fulfill each purpose of the Convention in order for the action to be in furtherance of the multiple purposes of the Convention."

C is for Concern, because there are many who fear that opponents of the Plan C option may still challenge its place in the budget, despite the committee's findings. The resulting apprehension about what lies ahead has clearly dampened enthusiasm for the BSC's cooperative missions budget, which continues to suffer through a down year.

C is for "Can we get past this?" The question has been answered. The BSC constitution allows for cooperation on different levels and with different organizations. Can we agree to disagree on some issues and continue working together in service to God's kingdom? Can we treat each other as Christian siblings, all sinners saved by grace, who will put differences aside for the sake of a higher cause - of the highest call?

C is for Choice. Which path will we choose?

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5/30/2003 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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