November 2002

Brunson leads FBC Dallas closer to SBTC

November 27 2002 by Todd Starnes , Baptist Press

Brunson leads FBC Dallas closer to SBTC | Wednesday, Nov 27, 2002

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2002

Brunson leads FBC Dallas closer to SBTC

By Todd Starnes Baptist Press

DALLAS, Texas - The congregation of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, voted overwhelmingly Nov. 20 to give all their Cooperative Program money through the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) rather than their traditional method of giving through the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT).

The motion stated: "In order to support our pastor as he assumes an important leadership position as a member of the Executive Board of the SBTC, that our church once again return to participating in the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention as it has been historically defined, by sending undesignated, all of First Baptist Church, Dallas, Cooperative Program gifts, including state and national missions offerings, to the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention."

Mac Brunson, senior pastor of the church, is a former president of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. He preached the convention sermon at the recent SBTC annual meeting.

The congregation's vote moves the church one step closer to uniquely aligning with the SBTC, a state convention that is in full cooperation with the Southern Baptist Convention.

"This is a significant step," Brunson said. "The inevitable is coming simply because of the direction the BGCT is moving in. The BGCT is making it increasingly impossible for churches that want to be with the Southern Baptist Convention to remain a part of the state convention. The BGCT is a denomination of their own in everything but title."

Brunson said the decision to send their Cooperative Program gifts through the SBTC should not be construed as "axe grinding."

"The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention has its eyes focused clearly on missions, new church starts, evangelism and cooperation with the SBC," Brunson said.

The church first loosened its nearly century-long relationship with the BGCT in 1999, dually aligning with the more theologically conservative SBTC.

A report given at the SBTC annual meeting said the convention now claims 1,208 churches, 75 percent of which are uniquely affiliated with SBTC.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
11/27/2002 12:00:00 AM by Todd Starnes , Baptist Press | with 0 comments

Easy way out of conflict not best option

November 27 2002 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

Easy way out of conflict not best option | Wednesday, Nov 27, 2002

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2002

Easy way out of conflict not best option

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor

WINSTON-SALEM - Churches in conflict should be wary of making a "premature recommitment," a church consultant said.

M. Wayne Oakes, a consultant for the pastoral ministries team in the Baptist State Convention's (BSC) Congregational Services Group, led a breakout session during the BSC annual meeting on "Finding a Way Through Conflict." The session Nov. 12 was based on a booklet of that name written by Oakes and Dennis L. Burton, director of missions for the Union Baptist Association in Monroe.

The booklet is based in large part on the "Role Renegotiation Model" of dealing with conflict. The model was developed by John J. Sherwood and John C. Glidewell for businesses and adapted for use in churches by John Savage.

The model describes the stages through which relationships, including those within churches, go.

The initial phase is "clarifying roles and expectations." Oakes said it is important for churches to clarify expectations and commit to them. Fuzzy expectations equal fuzzy commitments, according to the booklet.

After the commitment, which can be formal or informal, comes a time of stability and productivity. This is often called "the honeymoon."

"I call it by another name - fantasyland," Oakes said.

There are no perfect churches, perfect ministers or perfect Christians, he said.

Disagreements inevitably happen. The model calls them "pinches."

Pinches are broken expectations that are generally one-sided, personal and sometimes private, Oakes said.

"In human relationships, you cannot not get to the pinch," he said. "It will always happen."

Ministers face pinches all the time, Oakes said. An example is when a member of the congregation on the way out of church complains to the pastor about the sermon.

A pinch can be handled with a quick fix or planned renegotiation.

The quick fix can include an apology and an admission of wrongdoing.

Role renegotiation is an agreement that neither party will "stuff the pain" of pinches. Instead they will communicate using the model Jesus described in Matt. 18:15-17. In this model the person who is offended takes the initiative to resolve the issue.

If pinches are not resolved, they can lead to "crunches."

"A crunch is a pinch gone public," Oakes said.

The pain of a disagreement becomes known and experienced by many people in a crunch. Such conflict usually leads to one of five outcomes, Oakes said.

The first is a forced or mute exit.

This occurs in churches when the deacons coerce the minister to resign by offering to pay his salary for several months. The deacons often think they are acting for the Lord, Oakes said.

The second potential result of a crunch is corporate pain. This occurs when the disagreement triggers unresolved anxiety from the past.

Some unresolved issues in churches have been traced as far back as 40 years, Oakes said. These events can set up expectations that the pastor can't be trusted, he said.

Corporate pain can cause low energy in the church; inappropriate pious language, which Oakes described as "God-talk to hurt each other;" bonfires of controversy with the church facing crisis after crisis; rapid turnover of leadership, both lay and clergy; and scapegoating, with the blame usually focusing on the pastor.

The third possible result is a premature recommitment. In this scenario the pastor might preach a sermon that calls the congregation to confess their faults and recommit themselves to each other.

"The problem is when people recommit to what's not working, they set up a vortex of energy that causes people to walk out," Oakes said.

The fourth potential result of a crunch is the productive approach of a "planned renegotiation." This is similar to the strategy of dealing with a pinch, but it includes deeper anxiety because of past, unresolved conflicts, the booklet says.

The final option is a "planned exit." This is similar to the decision by Paul and Barnabas to part ways in Acts 8.

Oakes suggested several ways churches can apply the role renegotiation model.

If a member of a congregation has a concern with a minister, church leaders should encourage that person to go directly to the minister, Oakes said.

Too often, a deacon will instead wait until a deacons' meeting and tell the pastor that "some people" are upset with him, Oakes said. When the pastor asks who the people are, the deacon will say he was told about the matter in confidence.

"I think that's unkind and borders on unchristian," Oakes.

Even the worst criminals have the right to face their accusers, he said.

If the person with the concern does not want to go to the minister alone, the church leader can offer to go to the meeting. The leader should not talk during the meeting, but instead agree to "pray in the background," Oakes said.

If the matter can't be resolved, a mediation team might need to be formed, he said. Such a team might include representation from outside the church, but should not include members of the church leadership team.

The matter can then be taken to the church leadership with the unresolved conflicts made in writing.

"Use the lowest level of governing authority possible," Oakes said.

The church leadership team has five options.

The issue might be found to be not resolvable. All parties should be encouraged to consider the matter closed.

"There is risk for increased corporate pain," Oakes said.

The leadership team might agree to arbitrate the dispute and mandate a solution. This also risks increased corporate pain.

The team might recommend that the church go through a conflict resolution process.

"We suggest an outside, neutral source," he said.

The leadership might decide to negotiate the minister's exit at an agreed upon time.

"What we're suggesting is nine months," Oakes said.

The pastor and deacons would take the planned exit to the congregation for a vote.

Before the pastor leaves, he will be free to invite search committees to the church. The church would form a prayer team to pray daily for the pastor and his family.

The leadership team might decide to recommend that the church vote on the pastor's tenure with the result to take effect immediately.

The team might take this option if the pastor is found to have a moral failure; repeated, inappropriate or abusive behavior; gross misconduct, dereliction of duty or incompetence in office; teaching or preaching doctrine outside the church's stance; or the embezzlement of church funds.

In this case, the church should consider giving the minister full salary and benefits of one month for each year of service to the church. The church should also allow the minister to use the parsonage or pay housing allowance for that amount of time.

The church should also agree to pay for counseling for the minister and the minister's family for up to six months.

A prayer team should also be formed to pray for the minister and the minister's family.

"Our goal is to minimize damage," Oakes said.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
11/27/2002 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments

Piedmont Association will accept1963 or 2000 BF&M

November 27 2002 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

Piedmont Association will accept 1963 or 2000 BF&M | Wednesday, Nov 27, 2002

Wednesday, Nov 27, 2002

Piedmont Association will accept 1963 or 2000 BF&M

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor

The Piedmont Baptist Association defeated a measure that would have required new churches to affirm the "latest" version of the Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M) at is annual meeting Nov. 7.

Associational leaders say the proposal was not related to the ongoing national controversy between conservative and moderate Baptists.

The motion, which needed a two-thirds majority for passage, failed when it received 89 votes, or about 60 percent, of the 149 votes cast.

Terry Larsen, the association's moderator, said discussion of the issue was friendly.

"It never got out of hand at all," he said.

Larsen, the pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in McLeansville, said he doesn't sense much of conservative-moderate controversy in the association.

"We've always been a conservative association," he said.

Barry Nealy, the interim director of missions for the association, said those who proposed adding the term "latest" to the BF&M requirement for new churches were "just trying to be definitive."

Last year, the association voted to remove "1963" from the requirement, Nealy said. That allowed churches that want to join the association to sign off on either the 1963 or 2000 version of the BF&M.

"We didn't want to put a date or a reference to a specific edition," he said.

Revisions made to the BF&M in 2000 have been a point of debate between conservatives and moderates.

Supporters of the changes say the new edition is more biblical and more closely represents Southern Baptist beliefs.

Opponents of the revisions say they infringe on the autonomy of the local church and make the statement more of a creed than a confession of faith.

In other action at the Piedmont Association meeting, the committee searching for a new director of missions said it is not ready to recommend a replacement for Dennis Blackmon, who left in February 2000.

Larsen said the association's Executive Committee is scheduled to meet Dec. 12 to discuss hiring a consultant from the North American Mission Board. Such a move could lead to the hiring of an "intentional interim" for the association, he said.

"Whether or not that's going to take place, I don't know," he said.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
11/27/2002 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments

Conservative group wants CBF out of BSC budget

November 22 2002 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

Conservative group wants CBF out of BSC budget | Friday, Nov 22, 2002

Friday, Nov 22, 2002

Conservative group wants CBF out of BSC budget

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor

A conservative group wants all the money given through the Baptist State Convention's (BSC) giving plans to go to the BSC or the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).

Three of the BSC's four plans give money to the SBC. The other, Plan C, sends money to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF). All four plans include money for non-SBC groups.

Conservative Carolina Baptists (CCB) issued the call in a statement released to the Biblical Recorder a few days after the end of the BSC's annual meeting Nov. 13. The statement from CCB President Bill Sanderson dealt with a motion by Tom McLean to take money from the Recorder and give it to the CCB's newsletter, the Conservative Record.

Steve Hardy, editor of the Conservative Record, spoke against the motion, which failed by an overwhelming vote.

Sanderson said McLean was giving moderates "a dose of their own medicine." Because moderates put "select pet projects" in the BSC's giving plans, conservatives should be able to do the same.

"However, our real concern is that we believe the giving plans should only offer options which are directly connected to the (BSC) or the SBC," he said. "If we are going to give to the Cooperative Program, let's stop playing games with the labels. It's time that we get back to some honest terms."

Sanderson said churches can now give money to the Cooperative Program "for things that have absolutely nothing to do with the Cooperative Program, such as break-away CBF groups."

"We believe this is wrong now and it was wrong from the beginning," he said.

CCB wants all non-BSC and non-SBC items removed from the budget plans, Sanderson said.

"This would not touch the autonomy of the local church in the least," he said. "Churches can still send their money to the organizations they wish to support. They simply have to stop calling it 'Cooperative Program.'"

All four giving plans send money to the Christian Action League and the Baptist World Alliance. Plans B and C send money to the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, Associated Baptist Press and the Baptist Center for Ethics.

CCB also took issue with the Biblical Recorder, saying the paper "does not fairly represent the conservative viewpoint."

"One only needs to look at the board of the (Recorder) to see that it is probably the most imbalanced board in the entire (BSC)," Sanderson said. "We don't doubt the intentions of the editor and his staff when they attempt to produce their own brand of fairness, but someone is not listening to conservatives!"

The three BSC officers, who are all conservatives, have indicated their support for all four giving plans.

BSC Executive Director-treasurer Jim Royston said BSC leaders affirm that there are "more positives than negatives" in having the plans. He said he thinks that diversity in the giving options has kept the BSC together.

"I continue to think the choices are good for all of the churches as a whole," he said.

Royston said the committee to study the constitutionality will probably be announced at the executive committee meeting in December.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
11/22/2002 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments

IMB missionaries terminated; reasons disputed

November 22 2002 by Rob Marus and Mark Wingfield , Associated Baptist Press

IMB missionaries terminated; reasons disputed | Friday, Nov 22, 2002

Friday, Nov 22, 2002

IMB missionaries terminated; reasons disputed

By Rob Marus and Mark Wingfield Associated Baptist Press

VIRGINIA BEACH - A Southern Baptist missionary, who has taught in a Brazilian Baptist seminary, says he was fired by the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board (IMB) for teaching contrary to the Baptist Faith & Message (BF&M) 2000 on the issue of biblical inerrancy.

The missionary and his wife, who was terminated by IMB policy along with her husband, contend the BF&M 2000 does not address the term "biblical inerrancy."

They believe their termination resulted from trumped-up charges brought against them because they refused to sign an affirmation of the BF&M 2000 as requested by IMB President Jerry Rankin.

Chris and Karen Harbin made their announcement public Nov. 9 at a breakfast meeting of Virginia Baptists Committed during the annual session of the Baptist General Association of Virginia.

The Harbins had served in Porto Alegre in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul the last six years.

The IMB has not made public any specific charges against the Harbins. IMB trustees reportedly affirmed their termination during their Nov. 1 meeting in Dallas, but it was not discussed in the plenary session open to reporters.

While the Harbins contend their dismissal is related to their unwillingness to affirm the 2000 BF&M, IMB officials insist no missionaries have been terminated for that reason.

IMB regional administrator Robin Hadaway, in a Sept. 29 e-mail to the Harbins, accused them of sending out a mass e-mail with a report that they were being terminated for not signing the 2000 BFM.

"This is not true," Hadaway wrote. "No IMB missionary has been terminated for this. You are being terminated for 'the persistent advocating of doctrinal positions inconsistent with the Baptist Faith & Message.'"

The Harbins contend they did not send the mass e-mail and were unaware of its distribution.

Last April, the Harbins were asked in a telephone call from an IMB administrator if they planned to sign the affirmation of the 2000 BF&M as requested by Rankin. When they said no, they were asked to meet with Hadaway, regional leader for eastern South America.

Upon arrival at that meeting, they were told the discussion would concern questions that had been raised by 12 Brazilian Baptists about Harbin's class notes related to biblical authority. Those accusers never have been identified, and administrators at the Brazilian seminary say they have received no complaints.

Harbin was asked to translate his notes into English for further review, and then a subsequent meeting was scheduled with Hadaway Sept. 12.

At the second meeting, Hadaway presented the Harbins with a prepared letter of termination "for the persistent advocating of doctrinal opinions inconsistent with the Baptist Faith & Message."

The letter stated: "You are required to leave the field two weeks from today. ... You may not teach any more seminary classes. You may visit the seminary class once to say goodbye if field leader Larry Braswell goes with you. You are not permitted to have meetings or fellowship meetings with Brazilians or missionaries without the presence of Larry Braswell."

When the local pastors' council drafted a letter of commendation for the Harbins' service and included a request that they return to Brazil under appointment by some other mission agency, Hadaway chastised the Harbins in an e-mail.

"You must follow Larry Braswell's instructions precisely concerning operating on the field in your relationship with nationals and missionaries, or I will strictly follow the (policy manual) concerning your departure," Hadaway wrote. "If you do not follow Larry's orientation, you will have 600 cu. ft. of freight, your salary will end on 1 November and you will be departing Porto Alegre at the end of this week and not next week."

In another e-mail, Hadaway chastised the Harbins for the tone of a letter they had written asking clarification on the charges against them: "The tone and content of (your) letter is the kind of letter which I said during our meeting you needed to avoid. A repeat of this kind of letter, statements to nationals, or other publicity (or not following Larry Braswell's instructions) will make it necessary for me to revert to the original plan of ending your association with the IMB on 1 November 2002 ... (including salary and insurance)."

Karen Harbin contends Braswell has threatened to launch public charges of heresy against her husband among Brazilian Baptists if the couple attempts to return to the seminary.

In an e-mail dated Sept. 20, she confronted Braswell on this topic, accusing him of contemplating "acts completely disconnected from a Christian moral ethic. Such an attitude does not proceed from Jesus Christ. It is shocking for its falseness and the desire for rigid theological control expressed."

She also wrote: "It would seem hard to maintain that students and administrators who during six years of teaching in Rio Grande do Sul had in their hands Christopher's written theological material (which follows in accord with the Broadman Bible Commentary), would not be able to recognize theological error and would still ask in writing for our return to Brazil if alleged doctrinal deviation were more than imaginary."

In an e-mail reply from Hadaway, the Harbins were told that, although the seminary is "an autonomous institution" and "may employ who they wish," that nonetheless the IMB "reserves the right to advise our Baptist partners concerning the advisability of accepting as professors former IMB missionaries who have been terminated for doctrinal reasons."

Hadaway and Braswell were contacted for comment on the story Nov. 13, but they did not reply by the Baptist Standard's publishing deadline the evening of Nov. 14.

However, IMB spokesman Mark Kelly told Associated Baptist Press the issue had entirely to do with the IMB's view that Harbin's teachings were unorthodox.

"IMB leaders have read Chris Harbin's writings, and numerous positions on the nature of the Bible are clearly outside the parameters acceptable to Southern Baptists," Kelly said. "It is unfortunate that he did not balance positions he said were designed to 'challenge the thinking of his students' with a strong presentation of advocacy for the inerrant word of God."

The Harbins followed IMB procedure in appealing the termination and ultimately appealed to Avery Willis, the IMB's senior vice president for overseas operations. Willis told Harbin in a letter: "the termination is based on your own translation of your written syllabus. It is clearly over the line regarding the nature and inerrancy of Scripture."

However, the Harbins note, the Baptist Faith & Message says nothing about the Bible's "inerrancy."

Willis told the Harbins that, in order to appeal their termination one last time, Harbin would have to submit a "written rejection of those parts of the syllabus that are contrary to the Baptist Faith & Message."

Willis explained: "Since your syllabus is clearly beyond the policies of the board to 'not teach contrary to the Baptist Faith & Message,' we cannot just make this a resignation unless you can give us the clear written response asked for above."

Karen Harbin believes Willis' letter "linked our appeal to the need to affirm the Baptist Faith & Message." She said her husband responded by affirming the 1963 version of the Southern Baptist confessional document rather than the 2000 revision, and telling Willis that the class syllabus excerpts on which the charges of heresy were based "did not reflect his beliefs, being either taken out of context, badly worded, or stating positions that he was refuting."

The portions of Harbin's syllabus questioned by IMB officials were not immediately released.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
11/22/2002 12:00:00 AM by Rob Marus and Mark Wingfield , Associated Baptist Press | with 0 comments

On the way to extinction

November 22 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

On the way to extinction | Friday, Nov 22, 2002

Friday, Nov 22, 2002

On the way to extinction

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

Will the ubiquitous 15-passenger church van soon go the way of the dinosaur? Safety advocates and industry officials across the country are advising churches to forsake the vehicles commonly used to transport children, youth, senior adults and mission trip participants.

Safety issues

GuideOne, the church insurer endorsed by the Annuity Board of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), hopes churches will move away from using vans. "We encourage our policyholders to strongly consider other transportation options," the company said in a recent statement. "GuideOne believes 15-passenger vans to be inherently unsafe."

While the company still covers 15-passenger vans already in its system, it has stopped writing new policies for the large vans. To extend coverage, GuideOne also requires all drivers to have a commercial driver's license, a chauffeur's license, or to pass a defensive driver's course.

GuideOne alone insures more than 50,000 churches nationwide. Of those, about 10,000 maintain policies on one or more 15-passenger vans.

Church Mutual insures more than 75,000 churches and church-related entities. Its representatives also encourage churches to consider purchasing buses instead of vans.

Jerry Remus, North Carolina sales representative for the Carpenter Bus Company, said, "There are 300,000 vans out there that need to be replaced, and 100,000 of them belong to churches."

The Carpenter Bus Company, located in Franklin, Tenn., carries the endorsement of the SBC's LifeWay Christian Resources.

"I'd like to sell one of our buses to every school and church," said Barney Smith, vice president of Palmetto Bus Sales in Columbia, S.C., "but I don't care who people buy a bus from - they need to get out of vans and into buses."

Smith said school buses are designed to stricter safety standards, and are the safest mode of transportation available when measured by deaths per passenger mile traveled - safer than automobiles, airplanes or passenger trains.

"By design," Smith said, "a 15-passenger vehicle is classified as a cargo van - they are a huge, huge risk."

Loading a van with passengers who are elevated from the floor raises the vehicle's center of gravity and the likelihood of a rollover if the driver loses control. The heavier the passenger load, the greater the risk.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has published research showing that, in single-vehicle accidents, the rollover rate for 15-passenger vans nearly triples when the vans are loaded with 10 or more occupants as compared to fewer than five occupants.

Because the body of a 15-passenger van extends well beyond the rear axle, it is prone to sway during quick maneuvers, especially when towing a trailer - as traveling church groups often do.

"The big difference between 15-passenger vans and buses is that buses are designed and made specifically to pass government safety tests for passenger vehicles," says GuideOne. "Buses generally are encased in a steel cage, have stronger flooring, specially designed seating with better collapse and impact absorption and better rollover protection."

Vans do not have side bar protection, meaning passengers face greater risk of injury from side-impact collisions, according to GuideOne.

On the other hand, the greatest determining factor in whether occupants in rollover crashes live or die is the use of seatbelts.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Board, 80 percent of people killed in van rollover crashes in the last 10 years were not wearing safety belts. Passengers who wear seatbelts in 15-passenger vans are 75 percent less likely to be killed in a rollover crash than people who don't.

Ford Motor Company, manufacturer of the popular Econoline 15-passenger van, maintains the vehicles are "very safe." However, Ford also says it agrees with government recommendations that the vehicles be operated only by trained drivers and that all passengers should wear seat belts.

An investigation by CBS News revealed at least 424 people nationwide have been killed and hundreds seriously injured in rollovers of the vans since 1990.

Liability issues

Park Road Baptist Church in Charlotte is in the process of selling its 15-passenger van and buying a 27-passenger bus. "Insurance people on our administration committee advised us that increasing regulation of 15-passenger vans was inevitable," said co-pastor Russ Dean.

Several highly publicized accidents involving 15-passenger vans were raising important liability questions, his committee advised.

"We also were aware that it is technically illegal for a 15-passenger van to pick up children from school," said Dean.

So, when the church needed more capacity for the van that has been used primarily by its child development center, it decided to invest in a larger bus rather than adding another van.

Peninsula Baptist Church in Mooresville also invested in a new bus recently. The church is still using its two 15-passenger vans, said business administrator Sam Ellis, but with greater restrictions. Drivers are required to have a commercial driver's license or pass an online driving course offered by GuideOne. Drivers are also advised to distribute weight carefully in the vans, and to drive carefully.

In Siler City, Love's Creek Baptist Church just took delivery of a new 25-passenger bus. Pastor Roy Helms said safety and liability issues figured into the church's decision to move from a van to a bus. The bus is also easier for children and senior adults to board, he said. The church's insurer, Church Mutual, encouraged the purchase of a bus because of the safety factor, he said.

Legal issues

In South Carolina, Tennessee and Indiana, it is against the law for church and school groups to purchase 15-passenger vans for transporting people. The South Carolina legislation is called "Jacob's Law," named for a child who was killed in a 15-passenger van collision during a summer outing. The law took effect July 1, 2000, though vans already in use were "grandfathered" until July 1, 2006.

Smith notes that an often-ignored federal law was enacted in 1974 prohibiting the sale of 15-passenger vans for the purpose of transporting school-age children to and from school or for school-related events. Every Ford, Chevrolet and Dodge 15-passenger van has a plate inside the door that says it should not be used as a school bus, he said.

Financial issues

The current situation creates quite a quandary for churches that don't want to operate vehicles that may be unsafe, but have large sums of money invested in vans that are increasingly hard to sell.

Remus said Carpenter Bus Sales encourages churches to remove all but one of the bench seats and market the vans to the service industry, as his company does with trade-ins.

Moving from a rapidly depreciating van to a bus can be an expensive proposition, but insurance analysts say church leaders must question whether they can afford the liability of not making the shift. Bus salesmen say churches can actually save money by operating one bus instead of multiple vans.

New 15-passenger vans typically cost between $26,000 and $30,000.

A well-equipped 15-passenger mini-bus would cost from $10,000 to $12,000 more, according to estimates obtained by the Recorder. Stepping up to a 25-passenger vehicle adds about $10,000 more to the cost.

Many churches making the switch choose to invest more and get greater seating capacity, said Ken McDowell, N.C. sales representative for Interstate Transportation Equipment, which has an office in High Point.

Licensing issues

Moving from a 15-passenger van to a larger bus raises another issue for churches: N.C. law requires drivers of vehicles that carry more than 15 passengers to have a Class B commercial driver's license, according to Sgt. Johnny Blackman of the N.C. Highway Patrol.

Drivers must pass a special examination and pay a higher fee for such licenses. Since most church buses do not have air brakes, however, potential drivers are not required to pass that portion of the test.

The added requirement can be extra trouble, but is not necessarily a negative, say some industry insiders. While limiting the available drivers may raise the level of inconvenience to a church, it also has the potential of raising the safety factor by limiting driving duties to more qualified drivers.

Learning more

Palmetto Bus Sales offers a quick link to more safety information and government regulations through its Web site ( Click on "School Bus Certified vs. Non-conforming Vans" from the site's homepage for more information and additional links. GuideOne also has helpful information and safety links, including an online defensive driving course, at click on "15-Passenger Van Safety Concerns."

(EDITOR'S NOTE: George Henson contributed to this article.)

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
11/22/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

President makes the calls

November 22 2002 by John Pierce , Baptists Today

President makes the calls | Friday, Nov 22, 2002

Friday, Nov 22, 2002

President makes the calls

By John Pierce Baptists Today

WINGATE - It is Friday afternoon and the end of a typically stressful week for the president of Wingate University, a N.C. Baptist school outside Charlotte. Like most leaders who juggle multiple tasks, Jerry McGee is looking forward to a weekend away from institutional demands.

Unlike most collegiate executives, however, McGee's idea of "getaway" involves wearing a striped shirt, blowing a whistle and tossing a yellow flag.

"When you have a job as high stress as mine, it is good to have an outlet," McGee said, a veteran football official for the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). "It kind of takes a load off me."

However, McGee does not minimize the challenge he faces each Saturday when the calls he makes - or doesn't make - could determine whether a team of student athletes and thousands of fans go home happy or sad.

As a field judge, McGee is responsible for keeping a close eye on the lightning-fast receivers and defensive backs intent on catching an airborne pass. He must pay rapt attention to every move and be quick enough to get in position to make the correct call.

"My shoes weigh 300 pounds each," he said as the clock ticked down the final seconds of a rain-soaked game between the Clemson Tigers and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

His hyperbole aside, it is a strenuous job that calls for running a total of seven to eight miles each game. And in McGee's position, most of that running is backward.

"It makes for strong legs," McGee said, who faithfully starts each morning with 30-45 minutes of running on a treadmill while watching game film. That exercise is followed by sprints.

The payoff has been good, however, he said. It keeps him in shape, lets him stay involved with sports and provides an unusual source of stress release.

"It's great to be my age and still be a part of college football," McGee said. The 57-year-old is in his 30th year of collegiate officiating.

It all started with intramural football in college. The $4 per day for calling two games came in handy.

After returning home to Rockingham, McGee quickly moved through the ranks of junior high, high school and small college officiating. In 1980 he was enlisted by the ACC and worked 11 seasons before going to the Big East Conference for seven years. He rejoined the ACC four years ago.

McGee admits that such a physically and mentally demanding task is not the best form of relaxation for most people. But for him, it works.

"I'm not the president of Wingate University when I'm out there," he said. "I'm just the guy in a striped shirt."

"Your concentration has to be so exact," he added. "You have to block everything else out and concentrate on the football game."

McGee said his wife used to say that he is the only person she knew who could hide in front of 80,000 people - not to mention the larger television audience. His role as a football official also helped McGee work through the tremendous grief he faced when his wife died unexpectedly in 1999.

"For the first 27 years (of officiating), I thought college football needed me," McGee said. "The last few years, I've needed football. Having football in 1999 was very therapeutic for me."

McGee found much needed support from his fellow officials during that difficult time. The teamwork required for competent officiating leads to close relationships among the officials, he said.

McGee also said he gets a kick out of reactions from those who learn of his dual roles as university president and college football official. Players are usually "stunned" to discover that the guy who just flagged them for a 15-yard penalty is actually head of a Baptist university, he said.

The response from Wingate students is often one of surprise as well. He knows many of them - especially the football players - watch him on television whenever their schedules permit.

"They love it when I get knocked down or something," McGee said, who has suffered a broken ankle and cracked sternum, but "nothing serious" during his three-decade career.

"And I have a big Super Bowl party for the students in the Wingate University student center every year," he said, who dons his uniform to host 250 student guests.

McGee knows that he cannot continue officiating forever and looks to his sons for help in letting him know when to give it up. But for now he loves the challenge as much as ever - and it is a challenge.

"Players are so much quicker, bigger and stronger," McGee said. "Their athleticism almost defies belief."

Because of such, McGee uses a wise strategy: "Wait a count or two to let your mind digest what your eyes have seen - then make the call."

He has officiated more than 300 games at the highest collegiate level including two national championships among 13 top bowl games. He has many good memories.

His favorite game to call is the annual battle between Army and Navy. "If I could only work one more game, that would be it."

So what can a veteran official tell football fans about the game that they don't already know?

Most officials, McGee said, are professional people like doctors, lawyers and businessmen. Almost all of them are "very committed churchmen," which often leads to good theological discussions during pre-game dinners on Friday nights.

He said officials don't take nearly as much grief as fans assume. The coaches, he said, are generally "good and decent human beings" and the players are quite respectful.

Sure, but what about the fans?

"When there are 80,000 people yelling at the same time, you don't really hear that much," he said.

And there's one more thing fans should know, McGee said: "Regardless of what people think, it is just a game."

(EDITOR'S NOTE - This story is reprinted from the November edition of Baptists Today.)

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
11/22/2002 12:00:00 AM by John Pierce , Baptists Today | with 0 comments

Tuckaseigee Association bars WMU use of building

November 22 2002 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

Tuckaseigee Association bars WMU use of building | Friday, Nov 22, 2002

Friday, Nov 22, 2002

Tuckaseigee Association bars WMU use of building

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor

The Tuckaseigee Baptist Association has barred the Woman's Missionary Union (WMU) from using the association's building as long as WMU leaders are from churches no longer affiliated with the association.

The association's Executive Committee adopted a policy for using the building at its Oct. 7 meeting. The policy says only the association and its related organizations can use the building.

Associational leaders are interpreting the policy as excluding WMU because its co-directors are from churches that have pulled out of the association. Nelda Reid is a member of East Sylva Baptist Church, and Sarah Davis is a member of First Baptist Church in Sylva.

Claude Conard, interim director of missions for the association, said the association's parliamentarians determined that association officers must be members of churches in the association. The WMU director is listed as an officer in the association's bylaws, he said.

"We didn't push them out," Conard said. "They went out from us."

Reid said the WMU directors have no voting power in the association.

"Our officers are not elected by the association," she said. "WMU elects its own officers."

Conard said that if the WMU nominating committee would select a director from a church in the association, they would be allowed to use the building.

The WMU voted in September to allow membership from churches that have cut ties with the association.

Reid said she and Davis offered to resign at a meeting of the WMU leadership team on Nov. 17.

"Our leadership team said that they would rather we not resign, that we should not have to change our leadership in order to use the building," Reid said.

The leadership team has more members from churches that have remained than members from churches that have pulled out of the association, Reid said.

One member of the leadership team has indicated that she plans to resign over the dispute, Reid said.

Reid and Davis were elected to one-year teams in July. The directors of the organization are usually re-elected to a second term.

Reid said WMU leaders hope the association changes it mind but is prepared to start meeting in area churches.

"The WMU is trying to work with all our churches to promote missions as we have always done and challenge our churches to support missions and give to missions," she said.

Reid said the WMU has also been told that WMU news would no longer be printed in the association's newsletter. WMU officials are making plans to mail their information out, she said.

Reid said she has gotten no other negative feedback.

"What we are trying to do is work with everybody," she said. "We just feel like missions is very important and not something we should try to divide."

Six churches have left the association this year. The controversy started when the Pastors' Conference became upset that Cullowhee Baptist Church had called a woman as co-pastor.

Some churches have left saying the association is threatening the autonomy of local churches. Others were tired of the fighting.

Matt Ledbetter, pastor of Hamburg Baptist Church and president of the association's Pastors' Conference, told the Sylva Herald that an association's WMU should be made up of "cooperating churches."

"The WMU call themselves an auxiliary, but there are still association guidelines they have to follow," he said.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
11/22/2002 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments

Plan C motion sets stage for identity crisis

November 22 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Plan C motion sets stage for identity crisis | Friday, Nov 22, 2002

Friday, Nov 22, 2002

Plan C motion sets stage for identity crisis

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

The most significant business item to emerge from the Baptist State Convention's (BSC) annual meeting is the creation of a study committee to determine whether the convention's Plan C giving option is consistent with the BSC constitution.

An objective committee should be able to conclude its work in about half an hour, if introductions take no more than 20 minutes. It should take no more than five minutes to digest the first three articles of the constitution and another five minutes to agree that Plan C is perfectly consistent with both the intent and the letter of the BSC's governing document.

Article II of the constitution lists the various purposes of the Baptist State Convention. Its primary reason for being is "to assist the churches in their divinely appointed mission."

Associated functions are "to promote missions, evangelism, education, social services, the distribution of the Bible and sound religious literature."

Finally, the BSC is "to cooperate with the work of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)."

Not one word implies that the BSC cannot also cooperate with the work of other bodies, and it has done so throughout its history.

So why is this an issue? It is an issue because our diverse convention includes some members who support the SBC so ardently that they want to exclude BSC cooperation with any other body.

This was not the vision of those who founded the Baptist State Convention, long before the SBC came into existence.

According to Livingston Johnson's 1908 History of the North Carolina Baptist State Convention, Martin Ross asked the Chowan Association in 1809 to consider "establishing a meeting of general correspondence, to be comprised of the neighboring associations."

A "North Carolina Baptist General Meeting of Conference" was organized, meeting annually "to secure more perfect cooperation, and to promote the interest of missions." Its missions focus led the organization to rename itself "The North Carolina Baptist Benevolent Society."

Minutes of the 1826 meeting include a resolution that the formation of a state convention be considered, and in 1830 the organization voted without dissent that "this society be transformed into a State Convention."

Thomas Meredith, who became the founding editor of the Biblical Recorder just three years later, was appointed to draft a letter inviting all Baptists in the state to participate.

The state convention began immediate participation with other bodies beyond state lines. In 1834, for example, three delegates were sent to the "Triennial Meeting of the Baptist General Convention of the United States," and fraternal messengers were dispatched to meetings in South Carolina and Virginia. In 1837, delegates attended a "Bible Convention" in Philadelphia.

The Southern Baptist Convention was formed some years later, in 1845. In its annual meeting that year the BSC passed a resolution showing approval of the new regional entity and its two mission boards, recommending that churches contribute liberally to its causes.

From that time, the BSC has continued to cooperate with the SBC, but has never foresworn its freedom to cooperate with or contribute to other entities.

The development of the current giving plans has effectively preserved the autonomy of local churches and the state convention alike, allowing both to choose how their contributions will be directed within the umbrella of cooperative giving.

Still, some say this violates the constitution. Tim Rogers, who asked for the study committee, originally intended to ask messengers to delete Plan C. The giving plans were never intended to allow support of non-SBC entities, he said. Since the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship has now declared itself separate from the SBC, he suggested, the giving plan that supports it no longer fits within constitutional parameters.

But the giving plans have sent money to other non-SBC entities from their inception. Plans B and C include a small percentage for the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, Associated Baptist Press, and the Baptist Center for Ethics. All four plans include contributions to the Baptist World Alliance and the Christian Action League.

No interpretation of Article II can overrule Article III of the constitution, which clearly defines the BSC as "independent and sovereign in its own sphere."

From my perspective, any claim that the BSC is constitutionally bound to an exclusive relationship with the SBC distorts the constitution's clear intent and contradicts historical precedents and practices.

But there are other perspectives. Bill Sanderson, president of Conservative Carolina Baptists (CCB), sent the Recorder a statement following the annual meeting. Sanderson concurred with Steve Hardy, who spoke against another motion at the convention that would have diverted some of the Biblical Recorder's funding to his organization's occasional publication, the Conservative Record. He did so on the basis of a belief that "the giving plans should only offer options which are directly connected to the BSCNC or the SBC," according to the statement. Sanderson said churches could contribute to other entities if they choose, but should not be able to send the money through the BSC and consider it as Cooperative Program funds.

"The Conservative Record does not want to perpetuate this perversion of the BSCNC constitution," said Sanderson.

The BSC hasn't completely abandoned use of the term "Cooperative Program" in reference to its annual budget, but neither does it define "Cooperative Program" in the same exclusionary way as the SBC. Recognizing that North Carolina's budget plan is more inclusive, the BSC's budget committee has brought the convention a "Cooperative Missions" budget (instead of a "Cooperative Program" budget) since at least 1994.

But the motion now destined for study is not really about the budget: it is about identity.

It is about deciding whether the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina is an autonomous body that makes its own decisions and cooperates by its own volition, or whether it is a state franchise of the SBC and thus subject to the SBC's singular definition of "cooperation."

We don't yet know who will be on the Plan C study committee or what they will recommend. One thing seems sure, however. Messengers to next year's annual meeting will be challenged to decide whether the BSC will continue standing on its own autonomous feet, or choose to sell its historic birthright for a mess of denominational pottage.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
11/22/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

Saying thanks

November 22 2002 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Saying thanks | Friday, Nov 22, 2002

Friday, Nov 22, 2002

Saying thanks

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

There are many reasons and many ways to say "thank you," and many people who should be the object of our thanks.

I wanted the Biblical Recorder to offer a special "thank you" gift to pastors and other ministers this year.

Finding a gift that has good value but little cost is a real trick.

We came up with an idea whose value comes mostly from a big chunk of my late-night time. It also gave me a chance to employ some of those Bible study and teaching skills I picked up through nine years of post-graduate study at Southeastern Seminary and Duke University.

I remember how hard it was, with a minister's busy schedule, to do adequate preparation for the annual Bible study. So, I decided to offer some spadework (old and new) that I had done on the books being promoted for this year's January/Midwinter/Annual Bible study.

We came up with a gift CD that includes data files with 50 pages of teaching notes on 1 Corinthians (the LifeWay study) and 80 pages on 1 & 2 Samuel (promoted by Smyth & Helwys).

As a bonus, we asked Broadman-Holman's permission to include digital files of all completed portions of the Holman Christian Standard Bible. Sam Gantt in Nashville worked that out for us.

To add even more value to a truly multi-purpose CD, we obtained permission to include seven music tracks from Richard Kingsmore, Cindy Johnson and Giles Blankenship, all rising musical artists. Cindy and Giles are both veterans of the BSC evangelism department's summer mission "Witness" teams. Richard is music assistant at Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, and his piano solos are incredible.

We're grateful to Sam, Cindy, Richard and Giles for their help.

Ministers who did not pick up a CD at the convention meeting in Winston-Salem can call or e-mail our office at (919) 847-2127 or, and we'll put a "thank-you" CD in the mail.

Even those who don't appreciate my commentary notes can enjoy the music.

And, we hope, feel appreciated.

Copyright (c) Biblical Recorder Inc.
11/22/2002 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments

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