July 10, 2002
CLEVER – Sixty congregations in one of Missouri’s fastest growing regions have called for trustees at the five Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) agencies — who voted to give themselves sole authority in naming their successors — to rescind their actions and recognize "their accountability to the MBC and to Missouri corporate law."
The action came in the form of a resolution — passed without dissent — as the 57 churches and three missions of the Tri County Southern Baptist Association held its semi-annual meeting here recently. The churches have a combined membership of more than 14,000.
"Due to the growing concern and confusion within the Association and the Missouri Baptist Convention, we thought it necessary to provide answers and encouragement: answers for our laymen, staff, and pastors; and encouragement for our state convention," said Doug Richey, pastor, First Baptist Church, Clever, and author of the resolution.
"We were concerned over the bad press that has permeated our (former) state paper (Word & Way)," he said. "The small minority of churches and individuals, who are unhappy with the direction of our national and state conventions, seem to be presented as an overwhelming presence. The reporting of churches withdrawing from both (the Southern Baptist and Missouri Baptist) Conventions has many believing that there is a mass exodus occurring. This is simply not true. Those who have decided to withdraw are simply formalizing what had occurred years before. When compared to the number of churches in our state convention these churches do not make up a significant percentage.
"This resolution was discussed openly and was passed in a spirit of love and unity without dissent," Richey said.
The resolution begins with the churches and missions affirming "the inerrancy, authority, and sufficiency of God’s Holy Word, it being a reflection and result of God’s perfection, wisdom, and power."
It goes on to affirm the Cooperative Program and the leadership and direction of the Southern Baptist Convention and the MBC. The resolution then turns its attention to the trustees of the five renegade agencies – Windermere Conference Center, Missouri Baptist College, Word & Way, Missouri Baptist Foundation and The Baptist Home.
"Be it resolved that we call upon Missouri Baptist leaders to respect the constitution and governing documents of the MBC and its agencies, and to obey the plain meaning of Missouri Law that the MBC owns and controls these agencies, by virtue of the power to elect trustees and the power to control charter amendments; … and that we call upon trustees to restore the trust that has been violated between the congregations of our state convention and The Baptist Home, Missouri Baptist Foundation, Missouri Baptist College, Windermere, and the Word & Way, by rescinding their actions to become self-perpetuating and by recognizing their accountability to the Missouri Baptist Convention and to Missouri corporate law, to which we have agreed to be subject; and … that we call upon those groups who have promoted financial giving plans that undermine the historically successful Cooperative Program to discontinue such practices."
The resolution concludes by stating: "The congregations of the Tri County Southern Baptist Association stand in opposition to any efforts to establish a new state convention for Missouri Baptists, because such efforts will promote competition rather than cooperation and division rather than multiplication of kingdom ministry and we stand in support of continued cooperation with the MBC through the SBC Cooperative Program."
Tri County Association churches are located in Christian, Taney, and Stone counties. The bulk of the churches are small in size with bivocational pastors. The association last October affirmed the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message – without dissent.
"We see the truth of Scripture at stake," Richey said. "Jude calls the saints of God to ‘contend earnestly for the faith.’ We wish to do this in all humility and respect. We love our brothers in Christ who may or may not agree with us. But this love, far from causing us to stand by in a spirit of ‘contemporary tolerance,’ has caused us to defend the faith and call upon these brothers to consider their ways and beliefs. Only the truth sets one free.
"We pray that this resolution clarifies the issues, brings about reconciliation, prevents a foothold for Satan’s work in weakening our submission to the authority, sufficiency, and infallibility of Scripture, and honors Christ," he said.