November 5, 2002
SPRINGFIELD — Missouri Baptist Convention messengers have overwhelmingly voted to release more than $1.35 million in escrowed monies to ministry and mission causes in the convention.
Messengers took the action at the Oct. 29 morning business session of the annual meeting, one year after voting to withhold the money from five breakaway agencies – Windermere Baptist Conference Center, the Baptist Home, Missouri Baptist College, the Baptist Foundation and the Word and Way.
The escrowed money will be reallocated to state mission work, church planting efforts and to entities that have remained loyal to the MBC: The Missouri Missions Offering will receive $750,000 for 2003, while the MBC Church Planting Initiative will receive $200,000. The Missouri Baptist Children’s Home, Southwest Baptist University, Hannibal-LaGrange College and William Jewell College will each receive $100,000. Messengers overwhelmingly gave the MBC Executive Board the authority to distribute the remaining $1.35 million to meet priority needs.
The motion to release the monies was made by Jay Scribner, pastor of First Baptist Church, Branson, a former MBC president and now chairman of the MBC Executive Board’s administration committee. The board had approved the move by a 39-13 margin at its Oct. 28 meeting.
Scribner listed four factors that played a role in the motion.
"The five breakaway agencies have not recanted their actions and returned to their historic relationship with the convention," Scribner told convention messengers. "These escrowed cooperative dollars were designated by the convention for ministry and mission causes. In addition, the MMO funding process is upside down and must be reversed."
Scribner said the action is also a way of honoring the four agencies that have remained "in an honorable relationship with the convention."
"This gives a small boost to our church planting emphasis," he added, "and it also guards against these monies being used for legal fees, both now and in the future."
One motion was made from the convention floor to override the executive board’s motion. It was made by David Daughenbaugh, pastor of Little Blue Baptist Church, Kansas City. Daughenbaugh’s proposal would have left the money in escrow until the five agencies return. The amount would be determined on a reducing graduated scheduled, based on the date of the agencies’ return.
"When we escrowed this money we said it would be held for the agencies’ return," Daughenbaugh said. "I’ve heard people say they’re never coming back, but I serve a God who can do anything. I believe the agencies can have a change of heart. My motion, if approved, would assure that they have funds when they come back. We will need to be able to fund them in some way, but the release of the funds removes the possibility of doing that."
The proposal would have given the institutions 100 percent of the escrowed money if they returned before the end of 2002, with all funds being forfeited if they waited until after July 1, 2003.
Scribner told Daughenbaugh that his interest was appreciated but spoke strongly against the motion.
"You stated that when the agencies come back they will need to be funded in some way. But let me remind you," Scribner added, "that these agencies have not been sitting around, hoping that God sends some them some money from somewhere. They have been making adjustments in order to continue to do business.
"And I also need to point out something that few people are aware of. In accordance with our constitution, we have directives from our document by which we function that we are not to give any of our cooperative program monies to agencies that do not allow us to have a say in their ministry and operations.
"This has been a reality over the past year, but we have escrowed their monies throughout the year. And even doing this, it has been done out of grace. I would encourage this convention to reject this substitute motion."
Ronald Bracy, pastor of Salem Baptist Church, Florissant, also spoke against the motion.
"I’m asking this question because the members of my church want to know the answer," he said. "When we sent our funds to the convention, we did so with the understanding that those funds would be allocated as they were intended to be allocated. Now, that choice has been taken away from the local church.
"Those gifts are funds of Salem Baptist church members," the pastor said, adding that their wishes should be respected and honored.
Scribner responded, "We have the genius of Jesus in the Southern Baptist Convention with what we call the Cooperative Program. God has used that program for years to accomplish phenomenal things for building up of His kingdom.
"Unfortunately, the last couple of years, we have been involved in some squabbles and have become disunited, but God is going to bring us back to a point to get back to what we need to be doing. I think the motion that has just passed will help us do that."
Scribner said allocating the escrowed money would guarantee that none of the funds could be used for legal fees.
The motion was defeated by an overwhelming margin.