Single alignment sparks debate at Aug. 11 MBC listening session
By Bob Baysinger
August 17, 2004
JEFFERSON CITY – Single alignment was uppermost in the minds of several Missouri Baptist pastors as they met with Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) leadership Aug. 11 at Concord Baptist Church, Jefferson City in the first of a series of listening sessions to be held throughout the state in coming weeks.
Single alignment, if approved by messengers attending the 2004 and 2005 MBC annual meetings, will require a church to be aligned only with the MBC in addition to its participation in the Cooperative Program. Reports of churches being dually aligned would be investigated by the MBC Credentials Committee.
Frank Whitney, pastor of Union Hill Baptist Church, Holts Summit, and Ken Lumley, pastor of Memorial Baptist Church, Jefferson City, expressed doubt about single alignment.
Whitney predicted that messenger approval of single alignment “will unload the boat as fast as we’re loading it.”
“What will happen to those churches that are dually aligned?” Whitney asked. “What will happen to those people? Are we not abandoning those people who are fighting the war in the trenches? Are we telling them they have to leave those churches?
David Clippard, MBC executive director and an ex-officio member of the Continuing Review Committee that will recommend passage of single-alignment, told Whitney it wasn’t a matter of abandoning anybody.
“The choice is up to the church,” Clippard said. “It’s what the church chooses to do.”
Although the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) and the Baptist General Convention of Missouri (BGCM) are not mentioned in the report that will be submitted to messengers at the 2004 annual meeting, Clippard said it is these two organizations that prompted the single-alignment issue.
“With 46 percent of delegates attending a CBF national convention (voting to allow homosexuals to be employed by the CBF), it is obvious there are some very clear doctrinal lines between the MBC and the CBF,” Clippard said.
Clippard said the record shows that any church that adopts the “higher criticism” form of Biblical interpretation is “swimming upstream” because no church using this method of interpretation has ever grown.
Clippard said single-alignment would not impact churches that have ethnic and cultural ties, operate under an elder rather than a deacon-type system or have a style of ministry patterned after Bill Hybels’ Willow Creek Association.
The executive director also suggested strongly to Whitney and others attending the Jefferson City listening session that adoption of single-alignment appears inevitable.
“That’s where we’re going,” Clippard said.
Whitney said he was also concerned about the money that would be lost if churches are asked to leave the convention.
“Would we accept money from members of those churches that are dually-aligned?” Whitney asked. “I pastor a church where there are some people who would rather their money be given someplace other than the MBC and SBC. There are bound to be other churches like mine.
“Coming out of the business world, I know it was really hard for me to turn away money.”
Lumley also expressed concern about single-alignment.
“To me this is an issue totally about the CBF,” Lumley said. “I’m not clear about all this convoluted language. It was alright for us to give the microphone to Dr. (D. James) Kennedy at the Missouri Baptist Convention last year, but if we give the microphone to Dr. (Doyle) Sager (pastor of First Baptist Church, Jefferson City), it would be wrong.”
Lindy Reed, a Missouri Baptist evangelist, was one of about 30 attending the session at Concord Baptist Church. Reed told Clippard he was “like a breath of fresh air” for Missouri Baptists.
“I want to tell you how much we appreciate you,” Reed said. “Your integrity, your leadership, your love for evangelism and your drive to see churches grow … .”
Several other issues were raised at the session.
Calvin Brown, director of missions for the Concord Baptist Association, urged Clippard and his staff to find a way to fund the Baptist Student effort at Lincoln University.
A member of Calvary Baptist Church, Sedalia, asked who would be responsible for the $18.5 million debt incurred by the Windermere Baptist Conference Center if courts award the agency back to the MBC. Clippard said the MBC would not be responsible for the debt.
Rick Smith, pastor of First Baptist Church, Mexico, expressed concern about using Cooperative Program money to fund the legal effort to regain the five breakaway institutions.