Observations at the 2002 Meeting, Southern Baptists of Texas Convention I
by Wm. Robert Johnston
last modified 2 November 2002
The SBTC Convention was held Monday evening and all day Tuesday, October 28-29, at Houston's Reliant Park convention center (near the Astrodome). By late Tuesday they had registered 955 messengers and 347 visitors. Total attendance was slightly below that for the last two years. Heavy rains on Monday probably accounted for lower than expected attendance.
Currently there are about 1,208 Texas churches affiliated with the SBTC (of which reportly 75% are uniquely aligned). Not all messengers represent churches: two years remain in an SBTC constitutional provision for individual affiliation.
As in the last year I attended (2000), no debate whatsoever occurred in the business sessions; indeed, this year no motions were brought from the floor. Two resolutions that had been given to the Resolutions committee were found to be in the nature of motions and were referred to the Executive Board. The first proposed that the Southern Baptist Texan newsletter include more local news. The text of the second was never read to the convention, but it was indicated to pertain to education of children. Both referrals took place without convention action, according to SBTC bylaws.
There were no visible dissenting votes for any action, which includes the motions brought by the Committee on Order of Business, the second reading of several constitutional amendments, the adoption of the budget, and the seven resolutions.
Officer elections were all unopposed. Elected by acclamation were George Harris for president, David Galvan for first vice-president, Steve Swofford for second vice-president, and Bob Pearle for recording secretary.
The 2003 SBTC budget was approved and totals $13,867,268. This includes 52% for the SBC Cooperative Program. Of the total budget, 4% is grants from SBC entities.
For comparison, here are budgets for previous years:
Richard Land, head of the SBC's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, spoke on Tuesday. He particularly addressed the controversy regarding the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message (having been a member of the committee that wrote it).
The resolutions concerned: affirming the SBC ERLC Psalm 139 Project to use ultrasound in pregnancy centers; the centrality of Christ; addressing violations of church rights by local government authorities; calling on journalists to respect Christian worldviews; encouraging churches to adopt annuitants; and recognizing Sagement Church.
There were more negative references to the BGCT this year than in 2000 (the last meeting I attended). Most such references spoke of too much emphasis on institutions and bureaucracy.
Ministry efforts are expanding, and more are planned. However, SBTC leadership is committed to a cap of 15% of the budget for institutions. Ministries discussed included:
- 1999: $903,500
- 2000: $1,968,000
- 2001: $4,329,347
- 2002: $8,902,367
- 2003: $13,867,268
- Partnership missions, including projects in Ohio and Lebanon (current) and Japan, France, and Denmark (planned)
- Church planting (a major focus of the SBTC), including 46 churches this year and 147 total since 1998.
- The Texas Ethics and Religious Libery Committee, which is still organizing.
- Regional evangelism rallies have been held and more are planned.
- Support of Criswell College.
- Planned ministries include a collegiate ministry, Mexico missions, and health and family ministries.
© 2002 by Wm. Robert Johnston.
Last modified 2 November 2002.
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