Events in the Southern Baptist crisis in cooperation
Part 1: through 1999
by Wm. Robert Johnston
updated 3 April 2002
Despite the controversy of the last two decades, Southern Baptists remain arguably the most successful cooperative force in reaching the world for Christ. Despite this, events at both national and state convention levels show that divisions affecting this cooperation are not diminishing. This page is a (currently) sketchy listing of events and documents pertaining to what qualifies as a crisis in cooperation. While particular attention is given to SBC-BGCT relations, other issues in cooperation are included.
This document is separated into two parts:
1845 to 1978
- 1845--The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) was founded.
- 1885--The Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) was formed as the merger of two Texas Baptist organizations.
- 1919--The SBC considers requiring FMB missionary candidates to subscribe to "A Statement of Belief" but rejects the proposal.19a
- 1925--The SBC first adopted a statement of faith, the Baptist Faith and Message.
- 1925--The SBC introduced the Cooperative Program.
- 1928--The SBC issued a statement on Relation of Southern Baptist Convention to Other Baptist Bodies.
- 1962--The SBC at its annual meeting approved a motion to revisit the 1925 Baptist Faith and Message and "present...some similar statement which shall serve as information to the churches." The committee comprised the "presidents of the various state Conventions" (as qualified by Bylaw 18), with the motion also indicating "It is understood that any group or individuals may approach this committee to be of service."25a
- 1963--The SBC adopted a new Baptist Faith and Message, replacing the 1925 version.
- 1970--The SBC Foreign Mission Board introduces a requirement that missionary candidates respond to a question concerning the Baptist Faith and Message. The question asked is "Are your doctrinal beliefs in substantial agreement with those printed in Baptist Faith & Message (1963) and adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention in 1963?"70a
- 1975--The SBC FMB changes the question for missionary candidates concerning the BF&M to "Are you familiar with the contents of the Baptist Faith & Message? Are you in substantial agreement with this statement? Please cite and explain the areas of differences in beliefs and/or interpretations."75a
- early 1976--The SBC FMB changes the question for missionary candidates concerning the BF&M to "Are you familiar with the contents of the Baptist Faith & Message? Are you in agreement with the statement? Please cite and explain any area of differences."76a
- 6 September 1977--Date of letter by Paul Pressler to Bill Powell proposing an organized campaign to change the SBC's leadership at the 1979 convention. In the letter he wrote "I do not believe in fighting a battle unless there is a good chance of winning. If we fight and lose, we lose credibility. Therefore, I think it is imperative that we plan, organize, and effectively promote what we are trying to do before we attempt any strong action."77a
- 1978--The SBC adopted its first definition of the Cooperative Program, defining it as undesignated gifts only.
1979 to 1993
- June 1979--At the SBC annual convention Adrian Rogers was elected SBC President by 51% of the ballots cast, bringing the first conservative/fundamentalist election victory.
- 1985--The SBC in its annual convention approved a motion to create a "Peace Committee" to examine the controversy in the convention.
- 1987--The SBC in its annual convention accepted the report of the Peace Committee.
- February 1989--A group of Southern Baptists organized Baptists Committed with the goal of opposing the new political changes in the SBC.
- 1990--The SBC FMB changes the question for missionary candidates concerning the BF&M to "When did you last read the Baptist Faith & Message? Are you in agreement with the statement? If no, attach a separate sheet of paper citing and explaining any area of difference."90a
- August 1990--The Baptist Fellowship formed from the group Baptists Committed.
- 1991--The Baylor Restoration Committee was organized in Texas, later to become the Conservative Baptist Fellowship of Texas.
- May 1991--The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) was founded as a national level cooperative organization. It described itself as a alternative to the SBC Cooperative Program but not to the SBC. In this sense, it includes missions-sending entities and supports some seminaries but does not engage in all the activities of a denomination. Stated reasons for forming the CBF revolve around the autonomy of the local church concerning doctrine, ordination, and direction of cooperative missions funding.91a
- 10 September 1991--The Home Mission Board approved a new Cooperative Agreement between The BGCT and the Home Mission Board of the SBC. The agreement defined responsibilities where the two conventions jointly engage in mission efforts, i.e. in Texas.
- 15 September 1992--The BGCT adopted guidelines for Partership Missions stating in part "Texas Baptists recognize the Foreign Mission Board as the primary channel through which Southern Baptist Convention churches bear witness in foreign nations" and that working with the FMB as well as other Baptist entities "should be used as a method to increase the tempo of reaching the nations for Christ."92a
- 26 October 1993--The BGCT in its annual convention voted to establish a committee to study cooperative missions giving.
1994 to 1999
- June 1994--The SBC declared that it will no longer accept funds designated for the CBF.94a
- July 1994--J. Walter Carpenter filed a charter for potential use by a new Southern Baptist convention in Texas.
- 30 October 1994--The BGCT in its annual convention approved the recommendations of the Cooperative Missions Giving Study Committee. The objectives of the recommendations were to "enhance cooperative missions giving." The majority report recommendations included three ways for churches to send gifts and have them count as Cooperative Program giving: 1. traditional giving to the BGCT Cooperative Program budget, which would be split between the BGCT Texas budget and the SBC as specified by adopted budget breakdowns; 2. gifts to the BGCT Texas budget only; and 3. gifts to the BGCT Texas budget and to any specified worldwide "Baptist family" ministry. The third option allows a church to specify the percentage distribution between Texas and worldwide causes. Eligible ministries "may include" the SBC, any SBC entity, the Women's Missionary Union, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Baptist World Alliance, or other broad-based Southern Baptist efforts. Before approval a motion was defeated which sought to approve the minority report recommending excluding entities outside the SBC from Cooperative Program funding.94b
- 1995--The Conservative Baptist Fellowship of Texas became the Southern Baptists of Texas.
- 1995--The SBC FMB changes the question for missionary candidates to a yes/no question: "I have read and am in agreement with the Baptist Faith & Message." Candidates checking "no" were instructed to "attach a separate sheet of paper citing and explaining any area of difference."95a
- 13 April 1995--The BGCT's Home Mission Board Study Committee met with HMB personnel at the committee's second meeting.
- June 1995--The SBC in its annual convention accepted the report of the Program and Structure Study Committee. The report stated "An analysis of mission funding patterns among state conventions indicates that those conventions with total church membership which includes ten percent or more of their resident state populations have resources adequate to fund a greater portion of their evangelism and mission staff and programs. The [HMB] will, through the Cooperative Agreements, encourage these state conventions to fund a greater portion of their internal mission strategies while continuing to support the national and international ministries of the [SBC]..."95b
- 1995--The BGCT's Home Mission Board Study Committee completed its report. The report examined the level of cooperation between the BGCT and the SBC Home Mission Board (HMB) in conducting missions in Texas (such as church planting). It argued that in spite of the fact that Texas is a fertile mission field there is not a favorable level of cooperation from the HMB. It cited the financial support provided by the HMB in cooperative efforts, characterized as among the "least favorable" among state conventions. As an example, the BGCT provided $9,535,000 of the 1994 HMB budget but only $1,089,000 of HMB funds was used for Texas missions that year.95c
- 13 November 1995--The BGCT in its annual convention approved a budget reducing the undesignated budget share for the SBC. The Cooperative Program share for the SBC was reduced from 36.65% to 35.5%. Several proposed amendments included one to "restore the traditonal percentage to the SBC." The amendments were rejected 64.3% to 35.7%.95d
- 1996--The Southern Baptists of Texas merged with Baptists with a Mission (BWAM). The BWAM newsletter, the Texas Baptist, becomes the SBT Plumbline.
- March 1996--The BGCT Executive Board approved a new World Hunger program (as proposed by the BGCT Christian Life Commission) in Texas which includes hunger projects by the SBC, BGCT, CBF, and Baptist World Alliance. Previously, a hunger offering was taken on a single Sunday in November and applied 80% to FMB projects and 20% to HMB projects. The new program takes offerings on four Sundays in November and applies it 40% to IMB projects, 20% to HMB projects, 20% to BGCT projects, and 20% to CBF and Baptist World Alliance projects (varying, but 10% CBF and 10% BWA in 1996).96a
- October 1996--Issue date of the SBC Executive Board periodical SBC Life which criticized the proposed BGCT budget, stating "the larger state conventions were encouraged to take financial initiative for more mission work within their borders, but not at the expense of world missions."96b
- 11 November 1996--The BGCT in its annual convention approved a budget reducing the undesignated budget share for the SBC. Cooperative Program share for the SBC was reduced from 35.5% to 33%. The additional funds retained in Texas were to be applied to church starts. The rationale was to make up for the reduced Home Mission Board support for work in Texas, with the SBC's Program and Structure Study Committee Report cited in this regard96c
- 13 November 1996--The SBC Foreign Mission Board placed an advertisement in this issue of the Baptist Standard with the heading "Texas, you made a difference." With this were "FMB Hunger Relief Giving" figures of $454,000 in 1995 and $176,596 projected for 1996. It further stated, "The Baptist General Convention of Texas--through the Texas Christian Life Commission--has opted to send an increasing amount of its international relief funds through organizations other than the Foreign Mission Board."96d
- 1997--A CBF group met with the China Christian Council (which coordinates mission efforts in China and is sanctioned by the government). Some time after this meeting, the Council ended relations with the SBC International Mission Board. The Council stated that this action was taken because they felt IMB's underground missions efforts were unchristian because they were illegal. IMB President Jerry Rankin later charged the CBF with causing discord between the Council and the IMB. CBF missions spokespersons and a former SBC missionary also criticized the IMB's strategies and its statements regarding the situation.97a
- August 1997--The BGCT's Effectiveness and Efficiency Committee released its report. The E/E Report included references to the SBC or its agencies which refer to the political trends in the SBC. One statement criticized priorities in the last SBC budget, calling the budget changes a "trend away from the historic Baptist mission and ministry." Three statements criticized "authoritarian" and "centralizing" trends in SBC organization and control of its entities. In addition changing directions at SBC seminaries were described as "toward a rigid five-point Calvinism, away from a strong emphasis on the autonomy of the local church, toward a de-emphasis on the role of women in ministry and toward a reinterpretation of church-state separation."97b
- 10 November 1997--The BGCT in its annual convention approved the recommendations of the Effectiveness and Efficiency Committee.
- November 1997--The Southern Baptists of Texas announced the formation of a cooperative funding organization in Texas paralleling the BGCT. It also announced the intention to form a second state convention the following year.
- March 1998--Various Baptist organizations, including the SBC and CBF, signed a declaration of cooperation. The statement read in part, "We will seek...to cooperate to achieve common goals, without breaching our Baptist polity or theological integrity, in order that people may come to know Christ as Savior, and so that God may be glorified in ever increasing measure."98a
- June 1998--The SBC in its annual convention adopted an amendment to the Baptist Faith and Message, a new article on the Family.
- 1998--Reorganization of the SBC was enacted. The Home Mission Board and Radio and Television Commission were merged into the North American Mission Board. The Foreign Mission Board was renamed the International Mission Board.
- 10 November 1998--The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC) was formed at its first meeting.
- 1999--The SBC in its annual convention approved a motion to review the Baptist Faith and Message. The motion called on the SBC chairman, president Paige Patterson, to "appoint a blue ribbon committee to review the Baptist Faith and Message statement with the responsibility to report and bring any recommendations to this meeting next June..."99a
- February 1999--The BGCT Executive Board approved a motion to create a committee to respond to "misleading and slanderous attacks on our leaders." The committee named itself the Committee on Baptist Integrity.99b
- September 1999--The SBTC newsletter was renamed from the Plumbline to the Southern Baptist Texan. The name change was accompanied by a notable change in tone.
- 9 November 1999--The BGCT in its annual convention voted to create a committee to study the SBC seminaries and BGCT seminaries.
19a. Wingfield, Mark, "Has IMB changed requirements? Past and present leaders disagree," Baptist Standard, 11 March 2002. Link)
25a. "Report of Committee on Baptist Faith and Message," SBC Annual 1963, 1963, pp. 269-281.
70a. Wingfield, Mark, "Has IMB changed requirements? Past and present leaders disagree," Baptist Standard, 11 March 2002. Link)
75a. Wingfield, Mark, "Has IMB changed requirements? Past and present leaders disagree," Baptist Standard, 11 March 2002. Link)
76a. Wingfield, Mark, "Has IMB changed requirements? Past and present leaders disagree," Baptist Standard, 11 March 2002. Link)
77a. Sutton, Jerry, The Baptist Reformation: The Conservative Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention, 2000 (Nashville, TN: Broadman and Holman), p. 91.
90a. Wingfield, Mark, "Has IMB changed requirements? Past and present leaders disagree," Baptist Standard, 11 March 2002. Link)
91a. Vestal, Daniel, "A Conversation with Daniel Vestal," 1998, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (Atlanta, GA), p. 5; "Our Identity," 1998, CBF, op cit.
92a. BGCT Executive Board, "Report of the Executive Board," 1992 BGCT Annual, 1993, pp. 80-82.
94a. "Proceedings," SBC Annual 1994, 1995, pp. 97-100.
94b. Cooperative Missions Giving Study Committee, "Report of the Cooperative Missions Giving Study Committee," 1994 BGCT Annual, 1995, p. 148; "Proceedings," 1994 BGCT Annual, 1995, p. 53.
95a. Wingfield, Mark, "Has IMB changed requirements? Past and present leaders disagree," Baptist Standard, 11 March 2002. Link)
95b. Program and Structure Study Committee, "Covenant for a New Century," SBC Annual 1995, 1996, p. 175. Camp, Ken, "World Hunger Offering Seeks $850,000," Baptist Standard, 16 July 1997, p. 2.
95c. BGCT/HMB Study Committee, "Report and Recommendations from the BGCT/HMB Study Committee," 1995 BGCT Annual, 1996, pp. 124-133.
95d. "Proceedings," 1994 BGCT Annual, 1995, p. 66.
96a. Camp, Ken, "World Hunger Offering Seeks $850,000," Baptist Standard, 16 July 1997, p. 2.
96b. Druin, Toby, "BGCT Leaders Respond to SBC Publication," Baptist Standard, 18 Oct. 1995, p. 3.
96c. "Proceedings," 1995 BGCT Annual, 1996, p. 69.
96d. Foreign Mission Board, "Texas, You Made a Difference" (advertisement), Baptist Standard, 13 November 1996, p. 29.
97a. "Strategy Rift Drives Wedge in China Missions," Baptist Standard, 25 March 1998, p. 3; Parks, R. Keith, "IMB Accusations Against CBF Are False and Hurtful," CBF, April 1998, online, op cit.; Towery, Britt, "Southern Baptist-China Christian Council Controversy," April 1998, The Towery Front Page, online (http://www.easy.com/bet/index.html); Terry, Bob, "Southern Baptists' Relationship with China Rocky from the Start," The Alabama Baptist, Feb. 19, 1998, p. 3; Rankin, Jerry, "Letter to the Alabama Baptist in Response to February 12 Article," 1998, IMB; Rankin, Jerry, "IMB Clarifies China Policy," 1998, IMB.
97b. Effectiveness/Efficiency Committee, "Toward a More Excellent Way: The Report of the Effectiveness/Efficiency Committee," Baptist Standard, 27 Aug. 1997, p. 8.
98a. "Jimmy Carter Lauds Baptist Leaders for Signing Declaration of Cooperation," Baptist Press, 20 March 1998, online, op cit.
99a. "Report of the Baptist Faith and Message Study Committee to the Southern Baptist Convention," 14 June 2000.
99b. "Report of the Committee on Baptist Integrity," Baptist Standard, 6 Oct. 1999. (Link)
© 2002 by Wm. Robert Johnston.
Last modified 3 April 2002.
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