Executive committee of IMB trustees propose withdrawing motion for SBC to remove Burleson; preferring internal approach




UPDATED Feb. 16

The nine-member executive committee of the International Mission Board’s trustees will recommend at
the board’s March 20-21 meeting in Tampa that trustees reverse a Jan. 11 motion asking the Southern
Baptist Convention to remove Wade Burleson of Enid, Okla., as a trustee.

IMB trustee chairman Thomas Hatley of Rogers, Ark., told the Southern Baptist TEXAN the
committee determined that the board has the authority to address the matter internally without
the necessity of making a recommendation to the SBC. Burleson has vocally?and allegedly improperly,
according to the trustees?opposed the board’s action on new missionary candidate criteria; however
it was Burleson’s conduct as a trustee?not his opposition to the recent actions that prompted the earlier
effort to remove him as a trustee, according to an earlier IMB release.

Meeting Feb. 10 in Atlanta, the committee reviewed the Burleson matter and acted unilaterally to offer the
new plan. The committee includes the chairman, first and second vice chairmen, recording secretary and
chairmen of the board’s five primary standing committees. Hatley informed trustees of the proposal
through e-mail Feb. 15.

“As a board we continue to affirm our missionaries, our president, and our staff, and we stand with them 
in leading Southern Baptists to reach the harvest fields of our world,” Hatley told the TEXAN on Feb. 14.
Several weeks from now Hatley will release an historical and theological explanation of the board’s 
November decision to assess missionary candidates’ use of “private prayer language” and mode of
baptism.

Misinformation disseminated through informal weblogs caused confusion in the minds of some Southern Baptists, Hatley said. He said he hopes a detailed accounting of the timeline and rationale for those standards will help separate those issues from the matter of Burleson’s personal conduct as a trustee and answer questions that have arisen.

When the original action proposing removal was announced, Hatley said the board first explored others ways to handle the impasse with Burleson, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid, Okla., and immediate past president of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.

“The decision to seek removal was based on broken trust and resistance to accountability, not Burleson’s opposition to policies recently enacted by the board,” the official Jan. 11 statement read. At various intervals of the Jan. 9-11 meeting Burleson posted updated reports on his interaction with trustees, refusing trustee requests to stop the practice out of concern that inaccurate and confidential information was being disseminated.

Burleson said he used the weblog to express his concerns to a broader Baptist constituency, believing potential missionaries could be held back due to the new criteria and accusing certain trustees of “political power plays” and private caucuses.

Burleson, on his weblog Feb. 12, stated, “Trustee leadership has been very communicative with me these past three weeks, and I appreciate their hearts in dialogue. I have been asked to prayerfully consider shutting down this blog. Let me be clear. I have said, from the beginning, if I can be shown where my blog violates any policy or procedure of the IMB I will cease blogging immediately. In all fairness to my fellow trustees, blogging by a trustee is something new, and for everyone[‘]s benefit I am considering possibly ending the blog until an official policy on blogging can be established in the [upcoming IMB trustee] meeting.”

Later, on a Feb. 15 post, Burleson expressed gratitude to those who made suggestions about the weblog, stating, “I have chosen to continue blogging in support of our efforts through the International Mission Board and will continue to be extremely conscientious, as in the past, to fully abide by every policy and procedure of the IMB. I am always positive about our work, conscientious about confidentiality, and will only write those things that I believe can improve our cooperation together to win the world to Christ.”

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