Observations at the 2000 Meeting, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention I

by Wm. Robert Johnston
updated 30 May 2001

The SBTC Pastor's Conference was Monday. We arrived in time to hear three sermons and were particularly impressed by Dr. Long's sermon.

The SBTC Convention itself was Tuesday. By the end of the day they had registered 624 messengers and 631 visitors, although they indicated that they believed unregistered visitors were around 500.

Not all messengers represent churches: the SBTC constitution has a provision for individual affiliation. This allows individuals (meeting the same eligibility criteria as churches) from unaffiliated churches to participate as voting messengers. This provision expires in 2004.

Executive Director Jim Richards reported that there were 46 new church starts in the last 24 months, although it was unclear how many if any were associated with existing member churches. By comparison, currently about 473 churches and missions are affiliated with the SBTC and reportedly about 40% of these are uniquely aligned. (These figures may change significantly in the next few months in response to BGCT actions.)

The business sessions were characterized by no debate whatsoever, and in all but one session no motions from the floor were made. The two motions from the floor were (1) to adopt Phil. 3:12 as a keynote scripture for the convention and (2) to support 50 annuitants through the SBTC budget. The latter was out of order since the budget had already passed, but both were referred to the Executive Board.

Not only was there no debate or discussion, I saw no dissenting votes on any motion (all of which were from the Executive Board or the Committee on Order of Business, excepting the two mentioned above). This included the amendments to the constitution, the adoption of the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message as part of the statement of faith, the budget, and the six resolutions.

Regarding the role of the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message: the absence of discussion, debate, or (visible) dissent implies that the problems some Baptists have with some of the changes are not problems for any SBTC messengers. Stan Coffey (outgoing President) followed up this adoption by referring to the new BF&M as setting parameters for affiliated churches. He stated that churches need only "affirm" the 2000 BF&M to affiliate, that churches need not "adopt" the 2000 BF&M. (The SBTC Constitution requires a church's "official church action" that "affirm[s] that we are in full agreement" with the 2000 BF&M.)

The 2001 SBTC budget as approved totals $4,329,347. Of this, 5.2% is grants from SBC entities. Of the remainder, 51% is directed to the SBC Cooperative Program. This percentage, up from 50% this year, is the largest for any state Southern Baptist convention (several other states budget 50%). Another plan approved was to direct 50% of any in-state surplus to SBC entities partially defunded by the BGCT. Speakers also offered to funnel Cooperative Program gifts to the SBC from churches not affiliated with the SBTC.

For comparison, previous budget figures were $903,500 in 1999 and $1,968,000 in 2000. Of the 2000 budget, 10.1% was SBC grants. In connection to these grants, a representative for LifeWay, the publishing branch of the SBC, reported that LifeWay provided $48,000 of its revenue as support of the SBTC this year. This would comprise 2.4% of the SBTC budget. (This amount is also larger than the budgeted 1% increase in the SBC Cooperative Program.)

It was indicated that there are "good" Baptist entities in Texas, and that the SBTC would be seeking to develop "fraternal" cooperative relations with some of these in 2001. As illustration, it was stated that the local associations in Texas have no exclusive ties to the BGCT.

In elections (all unopposed) Rudy Hernandez became president, Greg Simmons first vice president, Roy Baxley second vice president, and Jerrel Smith recording secretary.

The resolutions adopted included one on abortion. This resolution was a much stronger condemnation of abortion than the resolution the SBTC adopted last year.

© 2001 by Wm. Robert Johnston.
Last modified 30 May 2001.
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