GREENSBORO, N.C.–Thirty-one motions offered by SBC messengers were either referred to convention entities or ruled out of order with a well-publicized proposal to investigate alleged improprieties at the International Mission Board prompting the greatest attention. SBC President Bobby Welch called for the IMB issue to be handled respectfully in a “kindhearted manner” as Oklahoma IMB trustee Wade Burleson yielded to the decision to refer his proposal to the IMB.
SBC bylaws require that motions affecting convention entities first be considered by the respective trustee body instead of messengers, who typically number in the thousands. Many of the motions sought help from the SBC Executive Committee in settling concerns–an avenue Burleson initially advocated by seeking an ad hoc committee to determine “the sources of controversies” and to offer findings and recommendations toward reconciling the trustee board.
The board has limited Burleson’s IMB service due to alleged inappropriate Internet blogging on board business or about board members. Burleson has denied he violated board policy.
Burleson’s motion alleged:
> “manipulation” of the nominating process for appointing trustees;
> claimed one or more SBC entity leaders had attempted to “influence and/or coerce” a particular course of action by trustees, staff and administration;
> called for conducting business in open session without exclusion of any trustee;
> contended that new doctrinal requisites for missionary appointment went “beyond” the Baptist Faith and Message;
> alleged suppression of dissent of board actions by trustees.
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary missions professor Robin Hadaway of Kansas City opposed the motion, stating that IMB trustees “don’t need an investigation” but rather “commendation” for their handling of candidate qualifications. Consideration of the referred motion could come as early as July when IMB trustees meet in Richmond, Va.
Messengers upheld the recommendations of the Committee on Order of Business regarding the disposition of all of the motions, including ruling out of order a motion from Clif Cummings of Duncan, Okla., seeking reinstatement of all trustee duties and responsibilities for Burleson. Cummings’ appeal for reconsideration of his motion failed.
A call to debate moving the 2008 annual meeting to New Orleans appeared to gain sympathy from messengers until an Executive Committee representative noted that the SBC would waste half a million dollars upon canceling contracts in the current host city of Indianapolis. Referral of the proposal to the Executive Committee passed.
Another effort to debate a referred motion failed despite a California director of missions’ appeal to have the SBC affiliation of New Life Community Church retracted because he believed their SBC affiliation was invalid. His effort to challenge the church’s credentials was considered inappropriate since the church had registered no messengers.
Welch told the messenger, “I personally sat in on that meeting [of the Committee on Order of Business] and they did carefully move through this.” He urged the messenger to avoid making accusations or drawing personal conclusions about the church whose affiliation he opposed.
Messengers refused a motion from Bill Fowler of Pleasanton, to debate a proposed amendment to the SBC constitution and bylaws so that officers represent churches that give at least 10 percent to the Cooperative Program. He quoted from Paul Pressler’s “A Hill on Which to Die,” describing the author’s characterization of “convention leadership of 30 years ago that would not listen to grassroots voices and refused to take before the convention issues it did not agree with.”
Fowler said, “I urge we be allowed to vote on this issue to show the convention leadership in 2006 has a different heart.”
In response, SBC counsel and vice president for convention policy, Augie Boto, encouraged giving the Executive Committee an opportunity to analyze the motion, so that “82 Southern Baptists from across the convention can deliberate over this and make sure exactly what would fit best.”
Both IMB and the North American Mission Board will be asked to consider ways in which the two entities can work together for greater efficiency and maximum use of Cooperative Program funds. NAMB was also asked to consider employing a person with a disability to heighten disability awareness.
Also referred to IMB was a call for an external audit of funds handled by IMB’s Central Asia region between 1999 and 2005.
The bulk of referred motions were assigned to the Executive Committee with many seeking changes at annual meetings. In the coming year the Executive Committee will consider calls to:
>elect convention officers from church that give 10 percent through the Cooperative Program;
>allow greater latitude in considering referred or rejected motions and resolutions at subsequent sessions;
> allow resolutions to be submitted on the first day;
> require messenger approval of any doctrinal position or practical policy by an SBC entity that “goes beyond or seeks to explain” the BF&M;
> schedule time for confession and cleansing before SBC business; and
> provide greater access for disabled messengers and guests.
Other motions referred to the Executive Committee asked the group to:
> consider a call for the Committee on Nominations to appoint at least one person under the age of 40 to each committee and board;
> change service on SBC entities to a single seven-year term;
> analysis of reimbursable expense accounts an housing for entity leaders;
> include every legitimate contribution to Southern Baptist mission efforts (such as mission trips, church planting, disaster relief, and designated offerings) as well as CP contributions as a part of recognized giving to Southern Baptist causes;
Several motions referred to the Executive Committee sought the study of particular concerns, including:
> the makeup and function of SBC entity boards;
> the impact of Calvinism on the SBC with proposals for necessary actions;
> the emerging church movement;
> the potential need for a backup plan should a pandemic or some other disaster interfere with the annual meeting;
Sent to LifeWay was a call to study research regarding the tendency of children of evangelicals to abandon church involvement upon entering adulthood, lack of a defined biblical worldview and growing carnality among evangelicals, as well as the percentage of unregenerate church members. LifeWay was also asked to consider placing a store in Phoenix.
Sent to GuideStone Financial Resources was a call to study the feasibility of allowing members of SBC churches to participate in GuiedeStone’s financial and insurance products.
Ruled out of order were calls for the SBC to:
> retract the approval of a California church’s statement of affiliation;
> expect candidates for SBC offices to demonstrate “verbally and financially” strong CP support;
> ask SBC officers to thank a particular court for allowing churches to offer shelter to the homeless without compromising their gospel message;
> adopt a new U.S. Christian flag in order to encourage unity in accomplishing the Great Commission;
> refrain form using the word “gay” in references to homosexuals;
> reinstate IMB trustee Wade Burleson to full duties and responsibilities; and
> entertain a report by a newly formed missional network.
Messengers to the annual meeting in San Antonio scheduled June 12-13, 2007, will hear reports from the various SBC entities to which 2006 motions were referred.