Education resolution among submissions to SBC committee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Jack Graham, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, issued a statement May 11 about a proposed resolution on public education being promoted for consideration during the June 15-16 SBC annual meeting in Indianapolis.

Graham, pastor of the Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church, said, "Our 2004 Resolutions Committee has been receiving a wide range of proposed resolutions.

"I have great confidence in both our Resolutions Committee and the process. This committee will prayerfully consider each proposed resolution and will then recommend those resolutions that best reflect the heart of Southern Baptists."

Graham issued his statement in response to media attention to a proposed resolution that calls Southern Baptists to "remove their children from ... government schools." T.C. Pinckney of Virginia and Bruce N. Shortt of Houston are circulating the initiative. Pickney is a retired Air Force general, former SBC second vice president and editor of the Baptist Banner newsletter. Shortt is a Houston attorney and Texas coordinator for Exodus Mandate, an organization that describes itself as advancing "the proposition that private, Christian and home-school education can successfully replace public education."

An SBC Executive Committee staff member said in a statement issued May 7, that normative committee procedures will be followed in processing the resolution submitted by Pickney and Shortt.

John Revell, the Executive Committee's staff liaison to the SBC Resolutions Committee, said, "Each year the president of the Southern Baptist Convention appoints a 10-member Resolutions Committee to offer resolutions for consideration at the annual convention. That committee receives proposed resolutions for consideration prior to the convention.

"According to the Convention Bylaws, 'The Committee on Resolutions shall prepare and submit to each annual meeting of the Convention only such resolutions the Committee recommends for adoption. Such resolutions may be based upon proposals received by the Committee or may originate with the Committee.'

"The Southern Baptist Convention has more than 43,000 churches with more than 16.3 million members," Revell continued. "Any -- or all -- of those members could hypothetically submit a proposed resolution on any subject matter they choose. The Resolutions Committee prayerfully and carefully evaluates each proposal to determine if it is suitable for submission to the Southern Baptist Convention.

"Dr. Jack Graham, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church near Dallas, Texas, has assembled a committee of members who are godly, wise, mature and balanced," Revell said. "I have every confidence they will present resolutions that properly reflect the consensus of opinions and convictions among Southern Baptists."

Messengers wishing to propose resolutions must submit them at least 15 days prior to the annual meeting, giving the Resolutions Committee a two-week period in which to consider them. Detailed guidelines on submitting resolutions are available on the Internet at www.sbcannualmeeting.net.

The resolution being promoted by Pinckney and Shortt contains 20 "Whereas" clauses and three "Be it resolved" clauses, spanning 910 words.

The initial "Be it resolved" clause proposes that messengers to the June 15-16 SBC annual meeting declare that the Southern Baptist Convention "encourages all officers and members of the Southern Baptist Convention and the churches associated with it to remove their children from the government schools and see to it that they receive a thoroughly Christian education, for the glory of God, the good of Christ's church, and the strength of their own commitment to Jesus...."

The Southern Baptist Convention adopted resolutions on education in 1999, 1997 and 1996.

In the '99 resolution, messengers made an appeal "to all Southern Baptist churches to consider carefully ... supporting educational programs that follow biblical principles, whether they are implemented in Christian, private, public, or home schools...."

In the '97 resolution, messengers affirmed "the right of all parents ... to teach their children at home," while also affirming "the godly teachers in public schools who stand on the front lines to teach and train children who cannot be, or whose parents choose not to home-school."

In the '96 resolution, messengers affirmed "the thousands of excellent Southern Baptist public, private and home-oriented educators," while encouraging legislators in all levels of government "to develop the means and methods of returning education and funding choices to parents."

Also, the SBC in 1997 assigned LifeWay Christian Resources with a responsibility for relating to and supporting homeschooling and Christian schools.

Graham, in his inaugural address to the SBC Executive Committee after his election as SBC president in 2002, noted his support for creating more Christian schools.

"I think it's time that Southern Baptist churches and associations and groups of churches look more seriously at establishing Kingdom schools, Christian schools," Graham said as part of an address on the SBC's Empowering Kingdom Growth initiative. "I think it's time we look at not only ... equipping young leaders at seminaries and colleges, but we look more seriously at starting at the earliest years, developing disciples and empowering kingdom growth through education."

Prestonwood Christian Academy, sponsored by Graham's church, provides a Christ-centered education for more than 1,000 students in lower and upper schools.

In The Washington Times May 12, an official with the SBC's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, stated that Southern Baptists have "never said public education is incompatible with Christian life."

Barrett Duke, ERLC vice president for public policy, told the newspaper, "We have suggested parents make sure their children are receiving appropriate instruction in public schools and that they remain engaged with all of their children's education.

"We are also concerned about what happens in public schools, some of which is contrary to Southern Baptist faith and sensitivities," Duke said.

The Resolutions Committee will meet in Indianapolis prior to the SBC annual meeting. They will consider submitted proposals and determine what resolutions will be submitted to the Convention for consideration.


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