SBTC Executive Board approves new relationships

DALLAS, Texas – Four new ministry relationships with Texas Baptist Men, the Korean Baptist Fellowship and East Texas Baptist Family Ministries were approved by the Executive Board of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention in their April 3-4 meeting. The board also approved a new cooperative agreement with North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, affirming NAMB’s requirement that personnel conform to the Baptist Faith and Message, making it the only state convention in Texas to do so.

The TBM and KBF agreements came after each entity approved language affirming a high view of scripture in keeping with Southern Baptist doctrinal convictions. The new cooperative agreement defines the relationships and responsibilities of both SBTC and NAMB to jointly develop, administer and evaluate a strategic mission plan on a cooperative basis. The agreement will be reviewed annually.

NAMB will assist with funding and benefits for jointly supported personnel and will provide a coordinated processing service for endorsing prospective chaplaincy and national missionary personnel.

After an hour of discussion, the board also approved the affiliation request of East Texas Baptist Family Ministries (ETBFM), a non-profit ministry currently being started in East Texas Baptist Area. Gerald Edwards, president of the new ministry, said it will include a children’s home, a home for unwed mothers and a retirement community. The ministry will be designated under the human care and family division of the SBTC.

Edwards recently purchased a 4,000-square-foot home south of Garrison, Texas, which will function as the administrative headquarters for the ministry and also house Mission Service Corp volunteers who will staff the ministry. In total, Edwards has accumulated about 476 acres of land for future expansion of East Texas Baptist Ministries.

On Jan. 8, 2003, Edwards and his son Todd, who is a member of First Baptist Dallas and will serve as vice president and treasurer of the ministry, met with three others interested in beginning the ministry.

“We formulated our mission statement which is clearly stated – to be evangelistic and missionary in its intent to win people for Christ,” Edwards said. Although services are not yet being offered, Edwards said the ministry’s goal is to be on the property by the end of this year pending state approval with the first children’s home. In 2003, ETBFM will begin fundraising for $250,000 and in 2004 fundraising for a maternity home. By 2004, Edwards hopes to begin building a retirement village.

Board member Bill Sutton expressed concern over financial obligations the affiliation request would generate in the future although the motion presented to the board did not include a financial request. Edwards spoke to the concern detailing administrative infrastructure would include 35 board members of which the five would come from the executive board of the SBTC.

Committee Chairman Steve Cochran reminded board members that the request is in principle only and the human care task force created by the board last year would later submit the specifics of the agreement in regard to monetary support.

SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards stated that preliminary discussion with Edwards included an operating request of $37,000 from ETBM, which would be taken from the human care line item of $125,000 which has already been designated for such ministries by the board. Because a director has not been hired to facilitate this area of ministry and manage these funds, Richards said “not a dime” has been distributed from the line item.

“Our human care is under a director and we haven’t hired a director, so I’m administrating that until we have one,” Richards said. “These funds would not classify as institutional support unless East Texas Baptist Family Ministries becomes a part of the 15 percent restricted operating funds.”

Richards explained that it is necessary to partner with such ministries in order to remain true to the convention’s founding principle of not owning institutions which could later create financial burdens for the convention.

“We want to be good partners like we are to Criswell College in supplying them with a reasonable amount of money. Our desire is to build a network,” he said.

“I can envision having partnership ministries in southern Texas, west Texas and the metroplex,” Richards said. “From the desires of the convention and the board, we don’t want to own these ministries. We want to help them develop ministries so that the SBTC can have a place to confidently send children, unwed mothers and spouses in times of need.”

SBTC President George Harris shared his church’s philosophy of helping ministries after they have already started.

“If you feel like you need to minister to people who are down and out, then you get something started and then our church will come and put money in it and we’ll stand behind it,” Harris said, former pastor of Castle Hills First Baptist Church in San Antonio.

Mac Brunson, new board member and pastor of First Baptist Dallas, countered by reiterating the necessity of the SBTC involving itself in the beginnings of ministries.

“There was time when The Criswell College was not. There was a time when Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary was only a vision of B.H. Carroll on a train,” Brunson said. “This brother [Gerald Edwards] is asking for us to help him and not wait for him to start it and then us take the glory and credit for that. He has asked to partner with us. Any church that’s ever built somet

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