Single-alignment issue facing Missouri Baptists
By Bob Baysinger
May 6, 2003
JEFFERSON CITY – What is a Missouri Baptist Convention church?
Messengers to the 2003 Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) annual meeting at St. Louis will be asked to change the definition, and discussion leading up to the vote is likely to spark some lively debate.
The definition in the MBC Constitution now defines membership as:
“Any Baptist church in sympathy with the objects of the Convention and desiring to cooperate with the Convention in her program of single alignment with the Southern Baptist Convention …”
A recommendation to change the definition was introduced by the MBC Committee on Continuing Review at the 2002 annual meeting. Proposed constitution changes are required to be introduced at one convention and voted on one year later.
The recommended change inserts “Southern” before “Baptist church” and replaces “in sympathy with” with the words “singly aligned.”
Opponents of the proposed change contend that it is an issue of control.
Members of the Committee on Continuing Review disagree.
James Freeman, a Kansas Cityattorney and a member of the committee, said the single alignment issue is a difficult subject. “What it boils down to is a matter of how churches, associations and conventions can function together and be doctrinally distinct,” Freeman said.
“But the heart of the matter now is that Missouri Baptists and Southern Baptists are very open doctrinally.”
Monte Shinkle, MBC president, said he believes the revised wording does nothing more than “clarify” what was understood in the original statement.
“It’s a great day to be a Southern Baptist and a Missouri Baptist,” Shinkle said. “We have an opportunity to really impact our state with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Why would we want to be anything else?
“This is our opportunity to make a clear statement. Things are so cloudy right now. We need some clarity in opposition to all the cloudiness.”
Shinkle said he sees the “single alignment” issue as a pledge of loyalty that will “hotwire us to the Missouri Baptist Convention and the Great Commission.
“Why would anybody want anything else?” Shinkle asked.