BGCM continues to lure MBC churches
By Bob Baysinger
August 17, 2004
JEFFERSON CITY – In contradiction to its vision statement adopted April 21, 2002, the Baptist General Convention of Missouri (BGCM) continues to solicit support from Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) churches.
Formed in 2002 as a moderate alternative to the theologically conservative MBC, the BGCM has completed a mass mailing to MBC churches asking for financial help.
“This year, the BGCM has set a goal of $35,000 for missions and ministry in the state of Missouri,” the July 29 letter said. “It is our hope you and/or your church will choose to be a part of this ministry ….”
The mass mailing arrived in the mailbox of almost every MBC church, including churches pastored by the convention’s two top officers – David Tolliver, MBC president and pastor of Pisgah Baptist Church, Excelsior Springs, and Mitch Jackson, MBC vice-president and pastor, Miner Baptist Church, Sikeston.
Tolliver said he ignores “that kind of stuff” when it arrives in his mail.
“I’m somewhat surprised at their gall to send that to the president of the Missouri Baptist Convention,” Tolliver said. “It’s a waste of their letterhead and stamp to send it to churches like mine.”
The mailing was undertaken despite the vision statement adopted by BGCM members in 2002. In part, the vision statement says: The BGCM “will welcome inquiries and requests for information” from churches and individuals, and that “we do not intend to actively recruit congregations.”
The letter pledged that 60 percent of the offering would be used for new church starts, ministry at state and local fairs, evangelism conferences and volunteer missions. The other 40 percent, the letter said, would be divided among nine institutions, including the five breakaway MBC agencies where trustees refused to be accountable to MBC churches and voted to make their boards self-perpetuating. The five agencies and the MBC are now locked in a legal battle royal. If the $35,000 goal is met and the money is divided equally between the agencies, each would only receive about $1,500.
BGCM operatives have been traversing the state for about a year, conducting unsolicited visits to MBC churches in hopes of luring them to join. The tactic has irritated many churches and MBC statistics show that the BGCM recruiting effort has been a flop.
The latest solicitation for money and invitation to join with the BGCM has only exacerbated already frayed feelings among MBC pastors.
Brock Davis, pastor of Robby Baptist Church, sent an email to the BCGM office at Columbia, reminding the office of a letter his church had mailed to the BGCM office earlier this year. In that letter, Davis said:
“On behalf of the Roby Baptist Church, which is a member of the Missouri Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention … we do not appreciate you trying to proselyte our church to come to your annual convention.
“We do not hold the same views that the BGCM holds. You need to focus on trying to bring in new converts and not other churches.
“…We are glad you have your own Convention because we have a difference in understanding of God’s Holy Word … . You broke your ties with the Missouri Baptist Convention so it would be only appropriate if you kept it that way by leaving MBC churches off your mailing lists.”
Another south central Missouri pastor, who has asked not to be named, has already responded to the BGCM, threatening action at the state level if his church’s name is not removed from the BGCM mailing lists.
“I have tried to be nice in making my request to remove my name from your mailing list, but you have now sent me a third letter requesting me to either attend your convention or make contributions to your missions causes,” the pastor said in a copy of the letter provided to The Pathway.
“I have read where your convention states it does not solicit Missouri Baptist Convention churches to join your convention or make contributions. However, when I repeatedly have received letters, brochures and offering cards from your convention, it leads me to believe that you are spreading disinformation about your intentions toward Missouri Baptist Convention churches.”
The pastor said his letter would be his final requests to the BGCM to remove his name and the name of his church from their mailing list.
“If you do not do so immediately,” the pastor added, “then I intend to contact the (Missouri) Attorney General’s Office and request they investigate you for harassment. I believe I have made myself very clear on this issue.”