WRAP-UP: EC considers DC convention, mission board merger
NASHVILLE (BP) -- The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee has given the District of Columbia Baptist Convention (DCBC) 90 days to "secure" the "the removal of any churches from its fellowship that have demonstrated a faith or practice affirming, approving or endorsing homosexual behavior," according to a recommendation adopted by the EC Feb. 20.
The EC also declined to recommend a study of merging the SBC's two mission boards and adopted resolutions honoring retiring Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) executive director Anthony Jordan and EC vice chairman Shane Hall, who died Feb. 16.
D.C. Baptist Convention
The SBC's relationship with the DCBC arose for discussion in light of a Washington church's Jan. 2017 decision to call a legally-married lesbian couple as co-pastors. Efforts by EC leaders to help the DCBC deal with that church -- Calvary Baptist Church –- in a biblical manner proved "unfruitful" over the past year, the EC stated.
Calvary voted in 2012 to cease cooperation with the SBC.
Acting on behalf of the SBC, the EC gave the D.C. convention until May 20 to disfellowship Calvary, secure the congregation's voluntary withdrawal from DCBC fellowship or help lead the church to repentance. If none of those scenarios materializes, the DCBC will lose immediately its authorization to receive and disburse CP funds.
According to the latest records available, seven of the 149 churches in cooperation with the DCBC give to SBC causes. Some of that giving comes through the DCBC, and some funds are forwarded directly to the EC by churches.
EC chairman Stephen Rummage told Baptist Press the committee's action "was a decision that there's no doubt we needed to make, but it's a decision we made with great sadness."
Initially, the EC's Bylaws Workgroup and Administrative Committee were presented with a recommendation to ask messengers at this summer's SBC annual meeting in Dallas to end the convention's CP relationship with the DCBC. The Bylaws Workgroup approved the recommendation without opposition. However, the Administrative Committee, after extensive discussion, defeated the recommendation with no dissenting votes and forwarded to the full EC the substitute proposal that eventually was adopted.
Joseph Lyles, pastor of Fort Foote Baptist Church in Fort Washington, Md., which cooperates with the DCBC, was present at the workgroup and committee meetings. He confirmed to BP that he asked the EC for 90 additional days to secure Calvary's repentance or removal from fellowship.
The EC, Lyles said, "was kind and considerate to try to bring about redemptive restoration. We're trying to extend the olive branch, and I think it was received. So I was encouraged."
Lyles, a former president of the National African American Fellowship of the SBC, asked Southern Baptists to pray for a "peaceful resolution," adding he will speak with DCBC executive director Robert Cochran, the DCBC Board of Directors and "possibly" Calvary.
EC President Frank S. Page expressed prayer and hope "the DCBC will do that which is right in the eyes of the Lord."
While the EC doesn't "know what will happen," Page said, "we were asked by one of their leading pastors to give them more time to deal with this, and we have decided to do so in prayerful hopefulness."
Cochran released to BP a statement which he said also was delivered to the Administrative Committee. According to the statement, the apostle John "warned" and "encouraged" the seven churches in Revelation 2-3, but he "never cut ties to any of these seven congregations, despite their shortcomings."
Cochran added, "Calvary's actions do not reflect on the D.C. Baptist Convention or any other convention in any way."
Study of IMB-NAMB merger declined
The EC declined, with no dissenting votes, to create a committee to study the feasibility of combining the SBC's two mission boards, opting instead to encourage the boards' expressed desire to continue cooperating with one another.
The feasibility of merging the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and the International Mission Board (IMB) has been repeatedly studied, the EC said, and a merger was found to be unfruitful. Instead, both boards were twice restructured after studies ending in 1994 and 2010, resulting in a combined reduction of 700 staff members since the latest restructuring, the EC said.
NAMB and IMB enjoy a productive cooperative relationship, the presidents of both entities told BP.
"I am grateful to report that the working relationship between IMB and NAMB today is strong, and we want that partnership to only increase in the days ahead," IMB President David Platt said. "At the same time, we believe that significant differences exist between IMB and NAMB in such a way that neither organization believes it is wise to merge together."
NAMB President Kevin Ezell expressed a similar sentiment.
"We are blessed with a great partnership with IMB and we will continue to look for ways that our two entities can work together and minimize redundancy," Ezell told BP. "With all of the downsizing both NAMB and IMB have had in recent years, we believe continued cooperation, rather than merger, will be much more beneficial to Southern Baptists."
Anthony Jordan honored
The EC recognized Jordan as the longest serving executive director in the BGCO's 112-year history. During his 22-year tenure, the number of Southern Baptist churches in the state increased at least 13 percent, more than 322,000 individuals were baptized and the BGCO forwarded more than $200 million in CP receipts to the SBC, the EC said in its resolution.
Jordan's Southern Baptist service has included pastorates in Oklahoma, Louisiana and Missouri, and several association and state convention leadership posts. He chaired the 1998 SBC Baptist Faith and Message Study Committee, which recommended the adoption of Article XVIII on the family, and is heavily decorated as a denominational servant and seminarian, according to the resolution. Soul winning, missions giving and support for the unborn have been among his advocacies.
Jordan has announced his April 15 retirement from the BGCO. The EC expressed gratitude for the work of Jordan and his wife Polla and pledged to remember them in prayer.
Shane Hall remembered
In a separate resolution, the EC expressed sincere gratitude for Hall's life and ministry, which included seven pastorates over a span of 27 years in Oklahoma and Louisiana, culminating with his leadership of First Southern Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.
The two-term member and vice chairman of the EC was a gifted leader and personal soul winner who served notably in many areas of Southern Baptist life, including leadership posts with the BGCO and several SBC committees, the resolution stated. He also was a featured speaker at the 2017 Pastors' Conference preceding the SBC's annual meeting in Phoenix.
Hall lived out his expressed desire, the EC said in its resolution, "to personally lead a life that reflects Galatians 2:20" and "to lead people to know Jesus through faith in His death and resurrection, to grow in Christ-likeness, and to show, through word and deed, their hope found in Him."
Hall's near four-year battle with stomach cancer evidenced "unswerving faith," "contagious courage" and a resolve to rest in the Holy Spirit's comfort, the resolution noted.
EC members expressed condolences to Hall's widow Misty and daughters Maci and Mallory, and pledged to pray for the family's comfort, provision and hope.
In other action, the EC:
-- recommended SBC calendars and calendar amendments through 2022-2023.
The EC voted to recommend to the 2018 SBC annual meeting in Dallas the addition of National Day of Prayer the first Thursday in May to the SBC Calendar of Activities. A motion to change the name of Orphan Sunday to Orphans and Widows Sunday was also approved for recommendation to 2018 messengers in Dallas. The changes would be added to all future calendars and all previously approved future calendars, according to the EC's recommendation.
The EC rejected a proposal from the 2017 SBC annual meeting to designate an annual Sunday on the SBC calendar to honor persecuted Christians. Rather, the EC will recommend to the 2018 SBC annual meeting that the convention continue to elevate the plight of persecuted Christians in published media, the public square and in prayer.
-- adopted guidelines for the EC liaison to the SBC Committee on Resolutions.
-- adopted a two-page resolution on corporate bank accounts and authorized signatures.
-- requested that the SBC Pastors' Conference reimburse the EC $100,000 for use of convention facilities in advance of the June 12-13 2018 SBC annual meeting in Dallas.
-- approved a 2018-2019 Cooperative Program Allocation Budget of $194,000,000 for recommendation to the SBC.
The proposed budget maintains current allocations to the convention's ministries, including 50.41 percent of receipts to the IMB and 22.79 percent to NAMB, for a total of 73.20 percent for world missions ministries.
The convention's six seminaries will receive 22.16 percent. The seminary enrollment formula for funding will yield: Gateway Seminary, 2.02 percent; Midwestern Seminary, 3.23 percent; New Orleans Seminary, 3.63 percent; Southeastern Seminary, 3.90 percent; Southern Seminary, 5.26 percent; Southwestern Seminary, 3.88 percent; and .24 percent to the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives, a ministry overseen by the seminary presidents. (Cumulative numbers may not match the sum of individual seminary percentages due to rounding.)
The budget proposal designates 1.65 percent to the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. The SBC Operating Budget, the only CP-funded facilitating ministry, encompassing SBC annual meeting costs and the work of the Executive Committee, would receive 2.99 percent of the budget.
Under the formula for distributing any overage in the CP Allocation Budget, 53.4 percent would be allocated to the IMB and 0 percent to the Executive Committee and SBC Operating Budget, with the balance distributed to the other entities according to the CP Allocation Budget.
-- recommended a 2018-2019 Executive Committee and SBC Operating Budget of $7,913,638.
-- elected Bill Lovell and Tom Boyd to three-year terms as Southern Baptist Foundation trustees. Lovell, from Nashville, is retired from Lovell Investments. Boyd, of Murfreesboro, Tenn., is with Decker Wealth Management and is retired from Bank of America, where he served as a senior vice president.
-- authorized a 2.1 percent increase in the Executive Committee salary structure for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.
Additionally, the EC was notified that Page will contract with C. Barry McCarty to serve as chief parliamentarian for this year's annual meeting in Dallas.
The next EC meeting will be held June 11 in Dallas.