Lighthouse Baptist Association formed
for SBC, MBC
By Allen Palmeri
August 31, 2004
ELMIRA – Four churches have pulled out of the Heartland Baptist Association and formed Lighthouse Baptist Association.
Elmira Baptist Church, First Baptist Church, Breckenridge, First Baptist Church, Polo and Kidder Baptist Church announced in an Aug. 4 letter to The Pathway that they wish to be identified as loyal Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)/Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) churches. Churches in the Heartland Baptist Association have refused to go on record stating that they are exclusively SBC/MBC.
“We felt like it was needed to share missions efforts, to share resources and to encourage each other—all the reasons that a church belongs to an association to begin with,” said Duane Tindall, pastor, Elmira Baptist Church. “What we wanted to avoid was a trend toward liberalism.”
Last April, in a 68-54 vote at a semi-annual meeting, Heartland chose not to adopt a proposed resolution in support of the MBC/SBC. While some pastors loyal to Heartland have argued that their churches have continued to support the MBC, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) also receives support from individual pastors and church members within the association. In response to the CBF presence within the association, seven Missouri Baptist churches pulled out of the association shortly after the April 14 vote. Elmira Baptist Church was among that group.
Pisgah Baptist Church, Excelsior Springs, led the fight for Heartland Baptist Association to affirm the SBC/MBC. Pisgah, whose pastor, David Tolliver, is president of the MBC, stood with First Polo last March to expose the fact that influential churches in the association are affiliated with the CBF. The issue led Pisgah to become a non-associated church.
“We didn’t want to be non-associated,” said Tindall, explaining the philosophy behind the formation of Lighthouse Baptist Association. “We just want to let people know that we are in an association. There may be some other churches close to us, maybe some in Heartland that realize, ‘Hey, that was a mistake, and we’re not really sympathetic toward that.’ We haven’t done like another group that you probably know about. We haven’t solicited any churches, and we’re not going to do that.”
Besides the Lighthouse churches and Pisgah, Heartland has lost Lawson Baptist Church, First Baptist Church, Kingston, Fleming Baptist Church, Orrick, and Paradise Baptist Church, Smithville. Before the controversy, the association had 32 churches. Now it has 24.
Tindall said some of the other churches that originally withdrew from Heartland are now considering joining Lighthouse Baptist Association.
“I applaud the willingness of these four churches and their pastors for the stand that they have taken,” Tolliver said. “I appreciate their loyalty to the SBC/MBC.”