Louisiana College trustees tighten faculty hiring process : Friday, Oct. 31, 2003
October 30 2003 by Lacy Thompson and John Pierce

Louisiana College trustees tighten faculty hiring process : Friday, Oct. 31, 2003
Friday, Oct. 31, 2003

Louisiana College trustees tighten faculty hiring process

By Lacy Thompson and John Pierce
Associated Baptist Press
PINEVILLE, La. - Louisiana College trustees adopted new policies that give trustees more direct involvement in faculty hiring and make affirmation of Southern Baptists' controversial doctrinal statement an official part of the hiring process.

Since 1997, prospective faculty members have been asked informally if they would teach "in harmony" with the Baptist Faith and Message statement, school officials said. The new policy makes affirmation of the more conservative 2000 version of the statement an official policy.

"This simply represents an enhancement of the process we already have, " said trustee Ed Tarpley, pastor of Alpine First Baptist Church in Pineville, La.

Trustee leaders said the action, adopted during a September executive session, does not affect current faculty members and does not reflect dissatisfaction with current policy. Rather, the change was made to ensure the "Christian" character of the Pineville school, which is owned and operated by the Louisiana Baptist Convention.

However, fellow trustee Wayne DuBose, pastor of First Baptist Church in Minden, La., said the changes "raise the bar a little bit" for prospective faculty.

Previously, trustees have had final approval on new faculty members who were recommended by President Rory Lee and other administrators. But the new policy gives the trustees' academic affairs committee the option of a face-to-face interview with the candidate.

Also prospective faculty will receive a copy of the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message and a letter clearly defining the college as a Christian liberal arts school "owned and operated by cooperating Southern Baptist churches in Louisiana."

"Not every person who teaches at LC is required to be a Southern Baptist," the letter states, "but every teacher must reflect a certain faithfulness to teach within the doctrinal tenets of our convention."

To assure that faithfulness, prospective faculty are asked to return a signed affirmation that they have read the full text of the Baptist Faith and Message, will agree to teach in harmony with and not contrary to the faith statement, and will agree to meet with the trustee's academic affairs committee for a question-and-answer session if requested.

The policy change calls for a written yes or no response to the doctrinal statement and asks candidates to put in writing their personal understanding of a Christian worldview, specifically detailing their view on the sanctity of human life, the sanctity of marriage and family, and creation.

The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message was significantly changed from the 1963 version. The most noted changes include the removal of a statement declaring Jesus Christ as the criterion for interpreting Scripture and the addition of a prohibition against female pastors. Drafters of the new statement deny accusations that the revised document is a creed, although they define it as an "instrument of doctrinal accountability."

The statement was used as a requirement for all SBC missionaries earlier this year, resulting in at least 77 resignations, retirements and terminations.

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