July 3, 2002
JEFFERSON CITY – Whatever legal action – if any – to be taken by the Missouri Baptist Convention against the five renegade MBC agencies whose trustees voted to become self-perpetuating will likely be disclosed July 8-9 as the 54 members of the MBC Executive Board assemble at the Baptist Building for their regularly scheduled quarterly meeting.
The Executive Board’s Legal Task Force will give a report to the board and it is possible that the results of a vote by the eight-member task force could be divulged on whether to take legal action against the five MBC entities. The Legal Task Force has met in recent days and remains tight-lipped about their deliberations.
Another key item to be addressed at the board meeting is the continuing decline in Cooperative Program giving by Missouri Baptist churches. A preliminary financial report released Friday by MBC Controller Carol Kaylor shows that CP giving through the first six months of 2002 remains about 16 percent below the amount given during the first six months of 2001. The decline in CP gifts has triggered budget cuts and a hiring freeze at the MBC. Kaylor said she has adjusted her projection for the 2002 budget down from the $19.2 million figure — approved by messengers at last year’s annual meeting in Cape Girardeau — to $16.5 million.
"At this point, it will take a miracle for us to reach $19.2 million," Kaylor said.
Speculation over why Cooperative Program giving is down across the state varies. Some believe it is due to the uncertainty over possible legal battles between the MBC and the disgruntled moderate trustees who have seized control of Missouri Baptist College, The Missouri Baptist Foundation, Windermere Conference Center, Word & Way, and The Baptist Home. Others have suggested that a weaker economy has triggered less giving, just as it has for charitable organizations thus far in 2002. Whatever the reason Executive Board members will closely study the proposed 2003 budget that co-interim Executive Director Larry Thomas is expected to present.
The Executive Board will also receive a report from the Executive Director Search Committee. The committee has reportedly narrowed the field to three undisclosed candidates. Two are believed to be from out of state, while a third is in-state.
The search committee will not bring a final candidate forward for the entire Executive Board to consider at this quarterly meeting. The committee will meet Wednesday in Jefferson City to assess their search process. Kenny Qualls, chairman of the search committee, MBC first vice president, and pastor of Spring Hill Baptist Church, Springfield, has said the committee hopes to have a final recommendation for the Executive Board to vote on so the new executive director is in place prior to the MBC annual meeting set for October 28-30 in Springfield.
The Executive Board will also hear a report from Jerry Field, MBC evangelism coordinator, concerning Crossover Springfield as Missouri Baptist churches attempt to do on the state level what has been done evangelistically with Crossover events at the Southern Baptist Convention level. Crossover Springfield will take place in the final few days leading up to the MBC’s annual meeting.
This will be the Executive Board’s final gathering – unless a special called meeting is held – before its next quarterly meeting immediately prior to – and just after – the MBC’s annual meeting.