NASHVILLE?The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee approved a requested $250,000 budget to cover the cost of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force meetings authorized at last summer’s annual meeting. The GCR Task Force will make any recommendations it has at next year’s meeting in Orlando.
In other actions at the Sept. 21-22 meeting:
?The Executive Committee honored the 32 years of service by R. Rex Lindsay as executive director of the Kansas-Nebraska Convention and approved a request by the International Mission Board to replace The Commission magazine with a new publication called CommissionStories.
?Two referred motions made by convention messenger Andrew Higgenbotham of Missouri last June were declined by the Executive Committee. In both cases he offered papers defending his proposals and appeared before EC subcommittees considering them. One sought adjustment of the seminary funding formula, a matter that has received extensive review from the Executive Committee.
The Council of Seminary Presidents urged the Executive Committee to refuse the motion, finding the current formula to be the best of all options despite a lack of agreement on particular areas needing change. One seminary spokesman added that any study might be rendered moot pending the outcome of the GCR Task Force recommendations anticipated next spring.
Higginbotham’s other motion sought to require SBC entities to report to the annual meeting any actions they take that interpret the Baptist Faith and Message or the convention’s governing policies so that the action may be approved by a majority of the messengers in attendance. “Do we really want 10-20 years of infighting and rivalry over tertiary issues like cessationism?” he asked in his written appeal.
He argued that a simple majority vote on such issues was preferable to the current requirement of a two-thirds vote to overrule the automatic referral of such requests to consider motions dealing with internal operations. The EC’s bylaws workgroup upheld current practice, citing a 2007 convention-adopted statement that regards the BF&M as an appropriate guide for trustee actions. Messengers also have the option of vacating a board of trustees through a simple majority vote when they find their actions unacceptable, though that measure has never been exercised.
?The Executive Committee postponed action on a proposed reallocation of SBC World Hunger Fund receipts, which are divided between the International Mission Board and North American Mission Board, from the current split of 80-20 to 70-30.
While the Cooperative Program subcommittee initially favored Tennessee messenger Steve Nelson’s appeal for a distribution consistent with Cooperative Program funds allocated to the two entities, the entire Executive Committee heard Virginia trustee Jim Davis’ appeal for delay after new information was provided on increased use of hunger funds by the IMB in the last two years.
?A motion to revise trustee term provisions in the SBC Constitution as well as an appeal for use of a new United States Christian flag during annual meetings were both declined. However, the Executive Committee entertained a messenger’s desire to encourage involvement by ethnic churches and leaders through cooperative partnership on the national level, instructing the communications workgroup to consult with other SBC entities and a language fellowship on the matter.
A referred motion made by Arizona messenger Dennis Conner sought the appointment of a task force to consider allowing designated gifts to SBC causes to be recognized as CP contributions by local churches. Because two task forces studied the matter within the last decade, the EC declined the request, reiterating that “such an action would undermine the continued viability of the Cooperative Program,” a view echoed in EC President Morris Chapman’s remarks.
“I believe deeply that if the Cooperative Program is ever tossed aside to be replaced by a strong promotion of societal giving?designated funds?or if both undesignated and designated funds from our churches are counted as Cooperative Program gifts, we will have abandoned the greatest vehicle for supporting missions and theological education in the history of Christendom,” Chapman said.
“The Cooperative Program represents Southern Baptists at their finest, enabling many of our churches to give voluntarily in order to do together what they could not have done separately. No one entity may have all it wishes at given times, but neither will any entity be forced to declare bankruptcy as long as Southern Baptists embrace the Cooperative Program, a plan intended to be a pipeline through whi