WRAP-UP SBC messengers adopt motion to address nation's drug problems
SALT LAKE CITY (BP)--Messengers to the 141st session of the Southern Baptist Convention, June 9-11, voted to form a task force to involve the denomination in helping to solve the nation's drug problem.
"If we do not lead in the forefront in this war on drug abuse, who then will lead?" asked Ted Stone, the motion's author and a messenger from Grace Baptist Church, Durham, N.C., who has conducted "Walks Across America" to raise money to fight drug abuse. "I have ... a dream that someday that you and I and our children and our children's children will live in a land that is free from the plague of drug abuse."
During the time for debate, no one spoke against the proposal, and SBC President Tom Elliff said the motion was overwhelmingly approved.
The motion calls for:
-- the task force to be chaired by Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
-- Land to invite chief executives of SBC entities to participate in the task force.
-- the task force to "formulate a plan of action for our denomination's more direct involvement in the solution of the serious drug problem" and to report on the plan at the 1999 annual meeting of the SBC in Atlanta.
Originally, the SBC Committee on Order of Business referred Stone's motion to the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission but brought the proposal to the floor after Stone reworded portions of his motion.
Of more than 25 proposed motions, Stone's was the only one considered by messengers. All others were either referred to SBC entities or ruled out of order.
Several motions were referred to the Executive Committee, including three proposals to move the 2000 annual meeting from Orlando, Fla. Those proposing the convention's move were:
-- Wiley S. Drake, First Southern Baptist Church, Buena Park, Calif., who has been vocal in his support of a Southern Baptist boycott against The Disney Company for what critics see as pro-homosexual policies. Drake's proposal calls for the convention to be moved to New York City.
-- Skeet Workman, Southcrest Baptist Church, Lubbock, Texas. Her motion criticized the City of Orlando for flying "363 homosexual flags in their city streets" when nearby Disney World hosted what has come to be an annual "Gay Day" event drawing many homosexuals to the Florida theme park.
-- Ken Wilson, North Central Baptist Church, Gainesville, Fla., proposed "the Orlando convention be relocated even at considerable cost to underscore our resolutions on Disney and opposing homosexuality and consistent with the revised (Baptist) Faith and Message article on the family."
Two motions, both referred to the Executive Committee, proposed changing the name of the Southern Baptist Convention, which now has congregations in all 50 states and some Canadian provinces.
Orville Kool, a messenger from Southern Hills Baptist Church in Sioux City, Iowa, proposed the Executive Committee study the possibility of renaming the SBC as "The Baptist Convention of North America."
"If there is a legal problem with the proposed name change, (I move) that the Executive Committee be instructed to propose an alternative legally appropriate name that will reflect cultural sensitivity and will be a more accurate description of where our churches and missions are located," said Kool, who identified himself as a church planter with the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board.
A similar motion by David G. Pope, messenger from One Heart Church (a Southern Baptist congregation) in Rome, N.Y., called for the study of a name change but did not propose a specific name.
Eight other motions were also referred to the Executive Committee:
1) consider holding a future Southern Baptist Convention in Anaheim, Calif., "because the Lord has called us to go where lost people are and to witness to them" -- Erik Tisher, First Baptist Church, Rancho Cordova, Calif.
2) subsidize child care during SBC annual meetings to help "small church families and their pastors" attend the meetings -- Ann Marie Box, Medical Center Baptist Church, San Antonio, Texas.
3) adjust the "funding formula" for the six SBC seminaries to include consideration of student enrollment at off-campus centers when deciding how funds will be divided -- Don Reeves, Grant Avenue Baptist Church, Corvalis, Ore.
4) require SBC agencies and boards to stop using Internet providers that allow access to pornographic web sites -- Larry Booth, First Baptist Church, Satellite Beach, Fla.
5) amend Article I of the Baptist Faith and Message to strengthen language affirming the truthfulness of the Bible -- Rick Henson, First Baptist Church, Lecompte, La.
6) require that all resolutions proposed by messengers to annual meetings be presented for floor votes -- Gustave Elowitz, Beth Yeshua Ha Mashiach, Houston.
7) rename the SBC's Cooperative Program as "The Cooperative Missions of the Southern Baptist Convention" -- Edgar L. Johnson, Chattanooga Valley Baptist Church, Flintstone, Ga.
Four motions were referred to NAMB:
1) develop materials to help SBC churches witness effectively to homosexuals -- Martha Wiles, Mount Lebanon Baptist Church, Boston, Va.
2) establish a scholarship fund to help K-12 students attend Christian schools -- Martin T. Angell, Audelia Road Baptist Church, Dallas.
3) provide participants of future conventions with a list of local church addresses, phone numbers and contact persons to distribute to host city residents who accept Christ during the convention -- Mark Searcy, New Hope Baptist Church, Marion, Mo.
4) produce a 60-minute video and CD on the "fundamentals of our faith" for distribution to missionaries in new convention areas, inner cities and rural areas -- Frank Shields, Elwood Baptist Church, Forest Hill, La.
Three motions were referred to more than one SBC agency:
1) to the Executive Committee and the Annuity Board: encourage Southern Baptist churches to receive a love offering on Annuity Board Sunday (the fourth Sunday in June) to benefit the "Adopt an Annuitant" program -- Cecil Fox, Pole Creek Baptist Church, Candler, N.C.
2) to the Executive Committee and NAMB: use television "on a regular basis" to invite people to attend Southern Baptist churches -- Kinney L. Wallace, First Baptist Church, Locust, N.C.
3) to NAMB and the International Mission Board: allow divorced persons, "upon individual qualifications," to serve as SBC missionaries -- Thomas Reid Everling, Castle Hills First Baptist Church, San Antonio.
Two other motions were referred to single SBC agencies:
1) to the Annuity Board: hold periods of open enrollment for all annuitants, regardless of preexisting medical conditions -- Timothy N. Davis, Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, Ozark, Ala.
2) to ERLC: develop a plan to assist churches in conflict with local governments over land use restrictions -- Wiley Drake.
Tom Elliff, on advice from the Committee on Order of Business, ruled out of order a motion by Richard A. Bullock, messenger from First Baptist Church, Elton, La. The motion by Bullock, a retired Army master sergeant, would have directed new SBC president Paige Patterson to write U.S. President Bill Clinton in support of a strong national defense.
Rick Ferguson, chairman of the committee, told messengers the motion was out of order because it was "in the nature of a resolution."
In a later session, Bullock moved to appeal Elliff's ruling that the motion was out of order, but messengers sustained Elliff's decision.
The Committee on Order of Business expressed sympathy for, but ruled out of order, a motion by Whitt Hibbs, messenger from Oak Bowery Baptist Church in Ohatchee, Ala. Hibbs' motion called for messengers to "continue to support and pray for a fellow Southern Baptist," Alabama Judge Roy Moore, who has been criticized for holding prayer and displaying the Ten Commandments in his courtroom in Gadsden, Ala.
"Although Brother Hibbs' motion is technically not in order -- in that it is more in the order of a resolution -- the committee did appreciate the spirit of the resolution," Ferguson said. "I've asked the president (Tom Elliff) for an opportunity to lead us in prayer and to voice a word of prayer for everyone who attempts to stand for Christ in the marketplace and particularly for our leaders ... whose ideas and decisions impact our lives daily." Ferguson then led messengers in prayer.
Three other motions also were ruled out of order:
1) commend Paige Patterson for his leadership in returning the SBC to theological conservatism -- Lindy Reed, Country Meadows Baptist Church, Kansas City, Mo.
2) direct NAMB to add under its supportive operations section a request that the Executive Committee ask its attorney to offer legal services to churches in conflict with municipal governments over land use -- Wiley Drake.
3) request Paige Patterson to send letters to Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supporting the stance of 294 members of Congress that Israel not be pressured to yield "sovereignty over lands it deems vital to its national security in its pursuit of peace" -- Charles A. Stewart, Cana Baptist Church, Burleson, Texas.