SBTC adopts $19.2 million budget, resolutions covering judicial abuse, sanctity of life


PLANO, Texas?During its annual meeting Oct. 25-26, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention adopted a $19.2 million budget, re-elected its president and passed resolutions on such topics as activist judges, the terrorism war, abortion and embryonic stem cell research, education, Christian holiness and evangelism.


Messengers also honored Joe Atchison, a native Texan and longtime pastor and director of missions in Arkansas, with the H. Paul Pressler Distinguished Service Award “for sacrificial and extraordinary service” in Southern Baptists’ conservative theological resurgence.


Formed in 1998 with 120 churches, the SBTC marked its seventh convention at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, registering a record high 2,040 people, including 1,035 messengers. The confessional convention has grown to more than 1,550 affiliate churches.


The evening session Oct. 26 drew an estimated 4,500 people during a “Hope and Heritage Rally” co-hosted by the SBTC and Prestonwood that featured the Prestonwood choir and orchestra and a message from Jerry Falwell, the pastor of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., and founder of the Moral Majority organization that mobilized millions of evangelical voters in the late 1970s and early 80s.


Calling Christians to be “the conscience of the culture” one week before the Nov. 2 election, Falwell, who this year has had his ministry’s tax-exempt status threatened for his public support of Bush, said evangelicals support Bush because of his values.


The former independent Baptist who joined Southern Baptist ranks in the mid-1990s said he didn’t involve himself in cultural issues until the late Christian apologist Francis Schaeffer confronted him in the 1960s, complimenting Falwell on his gospel proclamation but telling him he was a “total failure in confronting the culture.”


The convention elected as president for a second term Chris Osborne, pastor of Central Baptist Church in the College Station-Bryan area. The church has a large ministry to Texas A&M students.


Also elected were Ed Ethridge, director of missions at North Texas Baptist Association, as first vice president; Bill Sutton, pastor at First Baptist Church, McAllen, second vice president; and Brenda Wills, First Baptist Church, Fort Worth, secretary-treasurer.


Ethridge, the only officer serving a first term and in the only contested election, succeeded Garland pastor David Galvan of Primera Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida, who completed his second term. Ethridge received 299 votes; Gil Lain of Paramount Baptist Church in Amarillo garnered 123 votes.


SBTC messengers adopted a 2004-05 budget of $19,245.933, up $2.9 million from the previous year. Of receipts SBTC churches give through Southern Baptists’ CP missions funding channel, the SBTC will forward 53 percent of funds to Southern Baptist Convention causes, up from 52 percent last year and towards a goal of 55 percent by 2009.


The SBTC remains the lone state convention passing more funds to the SBC than it keeps for in-state work. Of the SBTC operating budget, about 40 percent is earmarked for missions and evangelism, much of which funds church planting.


In the only resolution that generated debate, messengers overwhelmingly resolved to “instruct parents to ensure the godly education” of children, “whether in public schools, private schools, home schools, or through the church’s education program. ?”


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