SBC DIGEST: Conservative Baptist Network announces steering council; Greenway's Juneteenth message; SBU adopts strategic changes

Conservative Baptist Network announces steering council

By BP Staff

BOSSIER CITY, La. (BP) -- The Conservative Baptist Network, a group formed last February "to cultivate the momentum needed for a course correction" in the SBC, announced a 48-member "steering council" Wednesday (June 17). The group included:

Anthony Allen, president of Hannibal-LaGrange University in Hannibal, Mo.; Emir Caner, president of Truett-McConnell University in Cleveland, Ga.; Kelvin Cochran, chief operating officer of Elizabeth Baptist Church in Atlanta and the former Atlanta fire chief; Mark Coppenger, former president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor and presidential candidate and former Southern Baptist pastor; Chuck Kelley, former president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; Phil Roberts, former president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Michael Spradlin, president of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary; and Charles Stanley, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Atlanta and a past SBC president.

The steering council also included six members of the SBC Executive Committee, including the immediate past chairman and four who were elected Tuesday (July 16) as EC officers.

Mike Stone was EC chairman until his term ended Thursday (July 18). Tom Tucker, a vocational evangelist from Rock Hill, S.C., was elected vice chairman. Joe Knott, an attorney from Raleigh, N.C., was reelected EC secretary. Jim Gregory, senior pastor of First Southern Baptist Church of Mountain Home, Idaho, was elected chairman of the Committee on Southern Baptist Relations. Rod Martin, CEO of The Martin Organization in Destin, Fla., was elected chairman of the Committee on Convention Events and Strategic Planning.

EC member Mark Ballard, president of Northeastern Baptist College in North Bennington, Vt., was also named to the Conservative Baptist Network's steering council.

"We are thankful to have incredible pastors and leaders who are committed to helping us see positive change in our Southern Baptist Convention," Brad Jurkovich, the group's spokesperson, said in a news release.

Jurkovich, pastor of First Baptist Church of Bossier City, La., was the only person publicly identified as part of the Conservative Baptist Network's leadership at its launch. The news release said the steering council would "represent and support the continually growing group of conservative Baptists," but did not specify any leadership roles.

One person initially listed as part of the steering council asked to be removed and was removed from the list.

Tim Patterson, executive director of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan (BSCM), said in a statement released Thursday (July 18) on the BSCM website that he had been invited by a friend during a brief phone call the previous day "to join a group dedicated to the inerrancy of Scripture and world evangelism," adding "the name of the Conservative Baptist Network was never mentioned during that brief call."

Patterson said when he learned that less than an hour after the phone call he had been named as part of the steering council, he asked that his name be immediately removed, and said he had "never been a member nor part of the leadership of the Conservative Baptist Network."

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In Juneteenth message to seminary community, Greenway calls for 'justice and righteousness'

By Staff

FORT WORTH (BP) -- In a campus-wide letter Friday (June 19), Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Adam W. Greenway "repudiated" racism and called on the SWBTS community to model "what it looks like for followers of Christ to live and learn alongside each other in a spirit of unity."

"To our Black brothers and sisters, we affirm that Black lives do indeed matter," Greenway wrote. "But this statement is simply the bare minimum affirmation, for Black lives do not just matter -- Black lives are made in the image of God, Black lives are loved, and Black lives are worthy of being treated with the inherent dignity bestowed by God Himself."

Coming on the annual celebration marking the ending of slavery in the United States, Greenway concluded, "On this Juneteenth in the year of our Lord 2020, I stand alongside all my Black brothers and sisters in calling for justice and righteousness to flow like a mighty flood, and as we move forward together as a seminary and college community, I pray you will join me in this stand."

Read the entire letter here.

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SBU adopts strategic changes for future sustainability

By Staff

BOLIVAR, Mo. (BP) -- Southwest Baptist University (SBU) President Eric A. Turner presented to employees June 2 the University Sustainability Plan designed to guide the university through current and future disruptions to higher education.

SBU is nearly two years into a strategic planning process called Shaping our Story Together. Changes made over the next two academic years will bring a total savings of $3.2 million, about 5 percent of the overall budget.

"Through this plan, we are addressing historic budgetary issues and we are responding to the enrollment concerns caused by COVID-19," Turner said. "However, we also want to plan for the future. There is an enrollment decline in high school seniors coming in 2026 and beyond, and we need to be positioned to navigate the challenges it presents. In the end, we do not want a budget that is simply balanced. We want a margin for reinvestment in people, programs and facilities. We need to have the resources to fund the strategic plan, to implement the compensation study and to fulfill the facilities master plan."

Read a full report on the plan here.

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