The Southern Baptist Convention's Executive Committee unanimously passed a recommendation September 23 giving pre-approval for any SBC entity to transfer funds to New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary to assist in its ongoing recovery from Hurricane Katrina.
The action was taken to assure compliance with Article XVI of the SBC's Business and Financial Plan.
New Orleans Seminary President Chuck Kelley told the Executive Committee's Cooperative Program subcommittee earlier in the day that rising costs in insurance and utilities have made recovering from Katrina more costly than initially envisioned. Kelley had requested that the subcommittee recommend approval of a special allocation of $500,000 out of any Cooperative Program overage funds, but the subcommittee declined and instead recommended that any CP overages be distributed according to the regular distribution formula to the entities, who then can decide how much, if any, to give to the seminary.
The Executive Committee also declined to approve at this time a request by Kelley to freeze the seminary's full-time equivalent (FTE) enrollment numbers for an additional three years, choosing to examine the matter more fully during the September 2009 Executive Committee meeting when more enrollment numbers are available.
In other matters, the Executive Committee:
• Approved a request by the Louisiana Baptist Convention to apply any remaining surplus funds for Hurricane Katrina relief to "other worthy disaster relief programs" of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, including relief efforts for Hurricanes Rita and Ike. There is approximately $200,000 remaining in excess funds.
• Declined to recommend reaffiliation with the Baptist World Alliance, as requested in a motion referred from the June 10-11 annual meeting in Indianapolis by Texas messenger Larry Walker, who asked the Executive Committee to "revisit, re-evaluate, and reconsider" the SBC's affiliation with the Baptist World Alliance. That relationship was severed in 2004 over concern about liberal theological drift in the BWA; the acceptance of churches that affirm practicing homosexuals by one BWA member denomination, the American Baptist Churches USA; and the BWA's acceptance into membership of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a factional split from the SBC, despite the fact that the CBF did not meet the BWA's criteria for membership.
The recommendation adopted September 23 by the Executive Committee said it "declines to recommend reaffiliation, preferring instead to encourage the [Southern Baptist] Convention to continue to relate to evangelicals and cooperate with them through the Global Evangelical Relations division of the Executive Committee, International Mission Board personnel, and in other ways that promote strong cooperative evangelization, clear biblical convictions, and close relationships with like-minded evangelicals around the world."
The Global Evangelical Relations initiative was launched in 2005. Bobby Welch, the Executive Committee's Global Evangelical Relations national strategist, told the group on September 22 that he has received an enthusiastic reception from Baptists and other like-minded evangelicals overseas "who see the world and the Kingdom as we do."
"I have found a tremendous interest in the success [of this initiative] because Southern Baptists have sought to find another way to say, 'We love you. We're with you. We're on your side, and we're all trying to see the Great Commission accomplished,'" Welch said.
• Declined to study formally a motion on how the Convention could better implement Articles XIV and XV of the Baptist Faith and Message, the articles that address cooperation and the Christian and the social order. The committee believes "the ideal of cooperation is already extolled" in the BF&M "sufficient to motivate Southern Baptists and their entities to collaborate toward the stated ends when and where appropriate."
• Approved a recommendation to the SBC's 2009 annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, that Bylaw 1 of the SBC bylaws be amended to say that during an annual meeting session "a messenger may speak in debate for longer than three minutes only with the permission of the convention granted by a two-thirds vote" and "a messenger may introduce a second motion during a business session only if no other messenger is seeking the floor who has not made a motion during that session." The recommendation was framed by SBC parliamentarian Barry McCarty and D. August Boto, the Executive Committee's executive vice president and general counsel to formally adopt the two standing rules messengers have approved in recent years.
• Approved a recommendation to the SBC annual meeting to harmonize the provisions of Bylaw 15 on the Committee on Nominations and Bylaw 19 on the Committee on Committees relating to their respective nomination processes.
• Declined to recommend to the annual meeting amendment of the Convention's bylaws to prohibit executive officers of SBC entities from also serving as president of the SBC, "preferring instead to affirm the ballot process, through which messengers determine for themselves whether a candidate with an inherent conflict of interest should be elected as convention president."
• Chose not to recommend that the SBC constitution be amended as proposed in a motion during the Indianapolis annual meeting, which suggested that Article III on membership be changed to disallow relating to churches with female senior pastors. The committee said the Baptist Faith and Message speaks clearly to the issue "and no amendment is necessary to challenge the friendly cooperation of any church on any grounds, since that already is possible by means of the motion process."
• Declined, "in the absence of any evidence of abuse, inequity, or difficulty," to recommend changing trustee term lengths noting the SBC constitution, "permits appropriate trustee term lengths, the possibility of elections to second terms of service, and appropriate limitations on trustee service by members of the same church." The motion had been to limit trustees to one seven-year term of service.
• Declined to act on a motion referred from the 2008 meeting to amend Article VIII of the SBC constitution to list elements of qualification for trustee service, "instead preferring to encourage the Committee on Committees and Committee on Nominations to continue the historic practice of inquiring about the Christian character and conduct of candidates and their churches."
• Declined to recommend amending the Convention's bylaws "to prevent the rare and harmless possibility of a second run-off." A messenger had asked that if no candidate receives a majority of votes cast on the first ballot, a second ballot should be taken containing the names of the two candidates receiving the most votes on the first ballot [eliminating the possibility of a second runoff]. SBC bylaws currently stipulate that "subsequent ballots shall carry the names of those who are included in the top 50 percent of the total votes cast in the previous ballot," allowing for two run-offs as needed.
The Executive Committee adopted a resolution of appreciation for Doyle Chauncey upon his retirement as executive director-treasurer of the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia for more than twelve years.
Chauncey led the formation and stabilization of a new state convention in Virginia, the resolution noted, and he promoted aggressive missions giving through the Cooperative Program, leading to "a total increase in giving of more than 1,200 percent over the course of eleven years." From the state convention's inception, Virginia Baptists have embraced a 50/50 CP allocation between state missions causes and SBC causes.
Under Chauncey's leadership, the SBCV established missions partnerships with six countries and increased from 115 to more than five hundred affiliated churches.
The resolution also mentioned that Chauncey served eighteen years in pastoral and church staff positions at five churches in Virginia and Texas and served for four years as treasurer of the Baptist General Association of Virginia.
"He has helped bear the banner of biblical fidelity while maintaining a Christ-like spirit, faithfully and diligently contending for the faith that was delivered to the saints once and for all," the resolution said.
Also during the meeting, Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, presented a check to the Executive Committee for $611,386.19 for SBC missions raised this summer at the various youth camps hosted by LifeWay, including Centrifuge, M-Fuge, and X-Fuge.
The offering encompassed gifts from 83,899 campers, Rainer said, noting that two-thirds of the amount will be allocated to the International Mission Board and one-third to the North American Mission Board.
Reported by Baptist Press assistant editors Michael Foust and Mark Kelly and staff writer Erin Roach.