March 25, 2003
BUTLER — Osage River Baptist Association in a near unanimous vote passed a resolution at its spring meeting March 17 emphasizing that its 35-member churches are committed to supporting the Missouri Baptist Convention, the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Cooperative Program.
Less than a dozen expressed opposition to the resolution which breezed through on a voice vote after little discussion.
One attendee asked why such a resolution was needed.
"We often pass resolutions here and at our state convention re-emphasizing our beliefs," Tom Willoughby, pastor of First Baptist, El Dorado Springs, explained to the questioner. "We feel this resolution is important because it states who we are as an association."
Willoughby, who was one of the resolution’s seven sponsors, said it was "a tremendous move in the right direction for our association, even though we have churches with various perspectives regarding some of the things that have happened.
"This resolution is a breath of fresh air. We were able to set aside our differences to support it by a very large majority."
Willoughby said only a small group of about five people, "sitting together in the back," voiced their opposition when the vote was taken.
"We wanted a resolution that in some way conveyed our support for these three areas (the SBC, MBC and the Cooperative Program)."
A similar resolution had been prepared at the association’s fall meeting, but "a vocal minority" forced the association to form an eight-member committee to craft a revised version.
The committee was composed of four supporters of the resolution: Willoughby, Ben Chapman, pastor, First Baptist Adrian; Terry Davis, pastor, First Baptist, Butler; and Jeff Paul, pastor, First Baptist, Archie and moderator for the association. The others on the committee, who originally expressed some reservations about the resolution, included Bill Cox, pastor, First Baptist, Nevada; Phil Fox, pastor, First Baptist Rich Hill; Jim McCoy, a retired pastor and member of Sheldon Baptist Church; and David Carmichael, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Butler. Cox, Fox and McCoy all ultimately supported the resolution, while Carmichael, while supporting it, was eventually asked to remove his name from the resolution by his congregation, according to Willoughby.
He said when the committee met in February to discuss the resolution it discovered there were misconceptions about what it was intended to do.
"Those churches designating their funds (he noted that one on the committee pointed out that his church was designating funds to The Baptist Home after the Missouri Baptist Convention voted to escrow money that had been going to The Baptist Home and four other MBC agencies where trustee boards voted to become self-perpetuating) were afraid that by supporting the resolution they would be ejecting themselves from the Missouri Baptist Convention. They came to see that was untrue, that the resolution in no way challenged their autonomy."
"We may disagree on how things are handled, but we agree we are Southern Baptists, Missouri Baptists and supporters of the Cooperative Program."
The resolution states that churches are to pray and participate through the Cooperative Program, Missouri Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention as well as to communicate a commitment of prayer and participation to the leaders of the state convention.
Osage River is not alone in passing such a resolution. Last year the Tri County Southern Baptist Association, which consists of 60 congregations and more than 14,000 members, passed a resolution affirming the authority of the Missouri Baptist Convention. That resolution called upon state Baptist leaders to respect the constitution and governing documents of the convention and its agencies.
Lamine Baptist Association also passed resolutions in 2002 affirming the SBC, MBC and Cooperative Program. Several churches have done likewise.