Observations at the 2000 Meeting, Baptist General Convention of Texas I
by Wm. Robert Johnston
updated 30 May 2001
The most publicized issues of the convention were the two recommendations for reducing funding to various SBC entities, both of which passed.
The BGCT's seminary study committee reported that the six SBC seminaries had showed changes in theology, management, and faculty issues in the past decade. They also said that these seminaries had greater financial resources than the two Texas Baptist seminaries and the Hispanic Baptist Theological School. Their recommendation (in short) was to cap the BGCT Cooperative Program contribution to SBC seminaries at $1 million and to divert the funding difference of about $4.3 million to three Texas Baptist seminaries and theology school. Two attempts to amend the recommendation failed, and the recommendation passed by what appeared to me as a 75% to 25% margin. (The Baptist Press estimated a 60% to 40% margin).
The 2001 proposed budget incorporated the seminary study committee recommendations and also included an additional reduction of $1.1 million in funding for the SBC. This proposal removed 99% of BGCT support for the SBC executive board and all BGCT funding for the SBCĂs Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. These funds were proposed to go toward Hispanic missions work in Texas, the River Ministry, welfare needs, and the Texas CLC. In a ballot vote the budget passed 74.3% to 25.7%. Under the new budget 28% of Cooperative Program giving goes to the SBC, in contrast to 33% this year.
Some notes on other issues of concern:
It was exciting to hear reports on the progress of Texas Baptist mission agencies. The five-year Texas 2000 effort is nearly complete and has produced 1,418 new churches in Texas--nearly one of four Texas Baptist churches. Most of the new congregations are Hispanic and black churches. (Recall that the funds for this program came from the funding change in 1994, when the fraction of CP giving sent to the SBC was changed from 36.65% to 33%.) Texas Baptist Men has been involved in relief efforts in Minnesota and Africa. The River Ministry is celebrating its 35th anniversary. A McAllen pastor was recognized for an Hispanic minister training program that has already helped produce 183 new churches. Texas Partnership missionaries reaching out to Bedouins laid groundwork that the SBC IMB built upon a short time later. The BGCT is still supporting the Minnesota/Wisconsin Baptist Convention, which it helped start years ago. The BGCT is initiating a program of cooperation and support with five state Southern Baptist conventions in the northeastern U.S.
- In general I felt the conduct of business was fair and polite. President Clyde Glazner acted as a cordial moderator.
- Executive Director Charles Wade in his address summarized objections regarding the SBC, which were raised at other points in the convention. The issues include: use of the SBCĂs new Baptist Faith and Message as a creed; the issue of women pastors; issues at SBC seminaries; politics in the convention; and lack of SBC interest in reconciliation.
- A committee studying the SBC missions agencies and the CBF will not report until next year.
- A motion to completely defund the SBC was almost unanimously defeated.
- Only one officer position was contested.
- In the spring Houston Baptist University unilaterally took control of its board of trustees, much as Baylor did in 1990. A committee appointed to examine the issue will not complete its report until next year.
- Votes were nearly unanimously in affirming no change in relations with dually-aligned churches and in affirming relations with non-geographic associations.
- The Christian Life CommissionĂs report addressed religious liberty in the schools, pornography, and sexual abuse by clergy.
- Among the individuals designated to lead the convention in prayer was Pastor Julie Pennington-Russell of Calvary B.C. in Waco.
- Resolution III on Confessions of Faith was passed nearly unanimously and affirmed that Baptist statements of faith are not creeds.
© 2001 by Wm. Robert Johnston.
Last modified 30 May 2001.
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