Messengers offer 23 motions at SBC

INDIANAPOLIS (BP)--Messengers offered 23 motions June 11 during the opening day of the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting at the Indiana Convention Center, including six proposed changes to the SBC constitution and bylaws.

Gearl Spicer, chairman of the Committee on Order of Business, told messengers, "It is the convention's longstanding practice to refer motions which would change the SBC's governing instruments to the Executive Committee for its consideration."

Messengers voted without discussion to refer to the Executive Committee those proposals related to the SBC constitution and bylaws:

-- that Bylaw 10 be amended to provide that presidents of Southern Baptist Convention entities or the president of the Executive Committee are ineligible to serve as SBC president, submitted by Jack Wilkerson, a retired denominational employee and messenger from Judson Baptist Church, Nashville, Tenn.

-- that Bylaw 10 be amended to change rules for runoffs of candidates at SBC annual meetings, submitted by Scott Wilfong of Jefferson Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, La.

-- that the bylaws be amended to establish additional criteria for denominational service, such as membership in churches supporting the Cooperative Program, abstention from alcohol and support of the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message or other parallel "declarations of faith," submitted by Jeff Purvis, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Herculaneum Pevely, in Pevely, Mo.

-- that Article III of the SBC Constitution be amended to provide that churches with a female senior pastor are not in cooperation with the SBC, submitted by Chuck Sams, church start and growth strategist of Ohio Valley Baptist Association in Cincinnati and messenger from New Bethel Baptist Church in Cincinnati.

-- that Article IV of the SBC Constitution be amended to limit SBC entity trustees to a single seven-year term of service, submitted by Barrett Lampp, associate pastor of assimilation and pastoral care, Thomasville Road Baptist Church, Tallahassee, Fla.

-- that the Executive Committee study and recommend bylaw changes to accommodate other events during the annual convention week, such as conferences and seminary classes, submitted by Ben Smith, pastor of First Baptist Church in Adel, Ga.

A motion submitted by Bill Sanderson, pastor of Hepzibah Baptist Church in Wendell, N.C., called for a declaration that Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, is not "in friendly cooperation" with the Southern Baptist Convention.

After an explanation by Spicer, messengers voted to refer the motion to the Executive Committee.

"The Broadway Church has not sent messengers to this convention, so this is not a credentials issue [that] must be resolved during the convention," Spicer said. "Although the question of a church's affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention is a very vital issue, there is not sufficient time to deal with this issue appropriately between now and [adjournment]."

Six motions were ruled out of order by SBC President Frank Page, pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C., who accepted the recommendation of the Committee on Order of Business to do so after Spicer explained that motions may "request but not direct" an entity to take an action.

Motions ruled out of order:

-- that the Holman Christian Standard Bible and certain other translations not be used in convention meetings or "official Convention literature," submitted by Eric Williams, pastor of Long Prairie Baptist Church in Belle Rive, Ill.

-- that all Southern Baptist seminaries make tuition and fees the same for on-campus students and those enrolled in online classes, submitted by Rodney Fry, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Lead Hill, Ark.

-- that the convention provide disaster relief assistance to Watseka (Ill.) Baptist Church, whose pastor, Richard W. Reeder Sr., made the motion. Both Page and Spicer expressed hope that the church might find assistance either through disaster relief ministries already in place or from "sister churches" that might feel led to help the congregation.

-- that recordings of the Pastors' Conference and convention sessions be provided "at cost" to messengers, submitted by James Julian, pastor of Spring Creek Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tenn. Spicer commented that "complete coverage of all SBC sessions is already provided to every messenger online free of charge [at www.sbcannualmeeting.net]. However the Southern Baptist Convention has no ability to direct the Pastors' Conference regarding the sale of its recordings."

-- that equipment for the hearing-impaired be "offered to any messenger who might require it," submitted by Regina Schrock, director of children's ministries for Fall Creek Baptist Church in Indianapolis. "The Executive Committee already provides services of this type that the messenger has requested," Spicer stated.

-- that "all colleges and universities and seminaries that receive Cooperative Program funds" be required to teach creation science, submitted by Harold Phillips, pastor of Pleasant View Baptist Church in Port Deposit, Md. "While the committee affirms all the Bible teaches about God and His creation, it's outside the scope of the convention's authority to direct trustees which are not appointed by the Southern Baptist Convention or to exercise the authority of any entity's board of trustees," noted Spicer, senior pastor of One Heart Church in Norcross, Ga.

After ruling the six motions out of order, Page addressed messengers on the role of motions and Baptist polity.

"Some of you are new to the convention, and we welcome you," Page said. "We have people coming from other denominations, from independent status. Sometimes people do not realize, for example, that this convention is an autonomous convention and does not hold authority over state conventions that may have colleges or other entities or organizations."

Baptist associations, state conventions and the Southern Baptist Convention are each independent, Page said, adding that "none can direct the work of the other."

"Also, we have a longstanding practice to elect trustees for those entities that we do support -- and we allow those trustees to do the work that they are called to do in those entities," Page said. "So there's a clear delineation of responsibility, of accountability and of autonomy."

A motion to take a disaster relief offering designated for recent storm victims in Indiana was withdrawn after its author, Rick Reeder of Southside Baptist Church in Princeton, Ky., was asked to do so by the Committee on Order of Business.

"The committee encouraged messengers who want to contribute to disaster relief in Indiana to send it to the North American Mission Board," explained Spicer, adding that instructions for doing so would be published in a second-day convention bulletin.

Reeder, who is director of missions for the Caldwell-Lyon Baptist Association in Princeton, Ky., asked for his motion to be withdrawn and encouraged messengers to participate in the NAMB offering. "We brought the Crossover [evangelistic effort] to Indianapolis during this convention, and hundreds have been saved," Reeder said. "Why don't we leave a lot of cash for disaster relief behind as well?"

A motion proposed by Jon Kittrell, pastor of Maybank Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, Miss., that SBC entities should plan convention events to be more family oriented or to provide childcare was referred to all SBC boards, institutions and commissions.

Beauford Smith, pastor of Colfax (N.C.) Baptist Church, offered a motion that convention meetings should post the American flag with an honor guard representing the five branches of the U.S. military. Smith's motion was referred to the Committee on the Order of Business.

Other motions referred to the Executive Committee included:

-- that the Executive Committee reconsider affiliation of the SBC with the Baptist World Alliance, submitted by Larry Walker of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.

-- that the Executive Committee design and implement a form for standardized reporting by SBC seminaries, submitted by Ben Cole, Great Commission/discipleship minister at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid, Okla.

-- that the Executive Committee have the Baptist Faith & Message translated into the top five languages most used within the SBC, submitted by Alan Thompson, senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Clairemont in San Diego.

-- that candidates appear on the platform or their photos be shown to messengers during nomination times at annual conventions, submitted by William Blosch, pastor of First Baptist Church in Plantation, Fla.

-- that the Executive Committee study how Articles 14 and 15 of the Baptist Faith & Message can be better implemented, submitted by Wiley Drake, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, Calif.

No action was taken on a motion by Drake that the "Executive Committee ... lead our SBC to repentance and a new emphasis on biblical holiness and godly living." Even so, Spicer said the committee "commends the high ideals and the actions expressed in the motion, not only to the Executive Committee but to all the entities and churches of the Southern Baptist Convention."

Page said "any call for the Executive Committee to lead this Southern Baptist Convention in emphasizing elements of revival such as repentance, biblical holiness and godly living or purity certainly does transcend any parliamentary procedure and certainly is a call from the heart of God that we honor."

A single motion was referred to LifeWay Christian Resources asking that churches and associations be provided with video conferencing capability through the LifeWayLink product, submitted by Andy Perryman, director of missions from the Georgia Baptist Association in Washington, Ga., and messenger from the First Baptist Church in Greensboro, Ga.


Keith Hinson is an associate in communications services for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.

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