Missouri participation felt at MBC meeting
By Bob Baysinger
June 22, 2004
|INDIANAPOLIS – Darrien Turner, 10, is baptized by Lee Whitley, pastor of Faith Baptist Church, Washington, during Crossover Indiana prior to the SBC’s annual meeting June 15-16. For more about the annual meeting, see pages 8-15. Photo by Brittany Schultze|
INDIANAPOLIS – More than 400 Missouri Baptists attended the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) annual meeting June 15-16 in Indianapolis, leaving no doubt about their “conservatism” while showing a willingness to serve and an eagerness to publicly debate over issues brought before the nearly 9,000 registered messengers in attendance.
With Southern Baptists celebrating the 25th year of the conservative resurgence in the convention, messengers and other leaders in Missouri Baptist churches and institutions declared in both word and deed that a similar resurgence has occurred in Missouri.
Phil Roberts, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, declared proudly that the seminary had broken from its liberal theology teachings and is now a bastion for biblical conservatism in the SBC.
Lee Whitley, pastor of Faith Baptist Church, Washington, and others from Missouri demonstrated that evangelism – one of the hallmarks for biblical conservatism – is now a high priority in Missouri. Whitley and others from his church played a big role in the pre-convention Crossover outreach efforts in Indianapolis, winning people to Christ and baptizing them in a portable tank in the heart of the nation’s 12th largest city.
Also contributing to the Crossover effort was Jim McCullen, pastor of Liberty Baptist Church, Belgrade. McCullen did survey work for Baptist churches in Indianapolis.
A conservative Missouri Baptist pastor, Gerald Davidson of First Baptist Church, Arnold, was elected unanimously as SBC first vice president after being lauded as one of the nation’s leading conservative pastors. Jim Wells, director of missions, Tri-County Baptist Association, was re-elected to a third term as SBC registration secretary. Also, Nodell Dennis, director of missions, Blue River-Kansas City Baptist Association, was elected president of the Southern Baptist Conference of Association Directors of Missions. Dennis will serve for one year.
|INDIANAPOLIS – Newly elected officers of the SBC are, from left, Gerald Davidson, pastor, First Baptist Church, Arnold, first vice president; David Young Hwan Gill, pastor, Concord Korean Baptist Church, Martinez, Calif., second vice president; John Yeats, editor of the Oklahoma Messenger, re-elected as recording secretary; Bobby Welch, pastor, First Baptist Church, Daytona Beach, Fla., president; and Jim Wells, director of missions, Tri-County Baptist Association, Ozark, re-elected as registration secretary. BP photo by Matt Miller|
Roberts, who came to Midwestern from the SBC’s North American Mission Board, declared that “perhaps” the school in which he serves and other Baptist institutions are responsible for research statistics showing that only 51 percent of pastors in America hold to a biblical worldview.
“Perhaps Southern Baptists hold a measure of responsibility for the declension of values by not providing through many of our educational institutions the grounding needed for effective ministry,” Roberts said. “The seminary where I serve, sad to say, appears to have contributed to the problem.”
Roberts reminded messengers that in 1961 a Midwestern Old Testament professor, Ralph Elliott, wrote a book, expressing the view that the book of Genesis was principally legend, saga and myth.
“He said in the book that history was not at the heart of that first book of the Bible. He argued, instead, that it was the embellishment of a lost generation that had certain dreams and aspirations about their view of God.
“Happily, I can stand before you today and tell you that Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is clearly, clearly no longer a part of the problem but a part of the solution.”
When messengers stopped applauding, Roberts continued.
“We are inheritors of the clear and decisive redirection of convention education within the Southern Baptist Convention to embrace the truth that the Bible is God’s truth, God’s revelation, His depository of saving reality without any mixture of error … His inerrant book,” he said.
“Genesis is now taught at Midwestern and embraced by its president and staff – not as fiction or fable or fantasy – but as fact. The Bible is God’s truth, and we believe the first book of the Bible is the record of God’s creative work in the physical realm and also the record of his initiatory work in the realm of redemption.”
To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the conservative resurgence, Roberts presented Jack Graham, outgoing SBC president, with a framed copy of the first page of the Gospel of John from the facsimile press of the Guttenberg Press in Germany.
“And on this page are these words,” Roberts said, “‘In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.’ Also on that page are the words, ‘And to as many as received Him, to them gave He the power to become the children of God … even to them that believe in His name.’
“At Midwestern, we believe it is not only important to believe the Bible, but to practice and apply the Bible.”
Putting the Great Commission into practice, Whitley said 15 people were led to Christ by the 18 members of his church who participated in Crossover Indianapolis activities. The pastor said he found people “very receptive to the Gospel.”
Whitley, a Louisiana native, has pastored Faith Baptist, a church plant from First Baptist, Washington, since its beginning more than four years ago. His church is already supporting another new church in Washington.
Davidson was nominated by Al Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky.
“These are times that demand leadership,” Mohler said. “Here in the early years of the 21st century – one of the great turning times in human history – the church of the Lord Jesus Christ has never been in greater need of leaders of conviction, stalwart courage and vision … I want to commend Gerald Davidson to this office.”
Mohler described Davidson as a “clear, convictional conservative.”
“He holds to the inerrancy of Scripture, to the integrity of the Gospel and the exclusivity of Jesus Christ as Savior,” Mohler said. “He is one who has helped Southern Baptists define and defend the faith. We can count on Gerald Davidson to represent us well in theology. It shows in his ministry and it shows in his life.”
Davidson served as the 1991-92 president of the Missouri Baptist Convention.
Mohler lauded Davidson for his tenacity. He told messengers that Davidson will soon celebrate 30 years as pastor at Arnold .
“Under his leadership the church has grown from 1,200 members to over 4,000 members,” Mohler said. “The church has had many baptisms and experienced enormous growth in Sunday School attendance. This is a man who shows leadership by being a worker and one who has toiled in the vineyard.”
Mohler said Davidson’s testimony has extended beyond the Gospel to the great moral challenges of the day.
“Not only his church but the political and civic leaders of his community know that he stands for God’s truth as it is applied to every arena of life,” Mohler said.
Other Missouri involvement in the SBC annual meeting included Jim Goforth, pastor of New Life Baptist Church, Florissant, speaking against an amendment to a resolution calling on Southern Baptists to oppose the secularization of the culture in every area. The amendment urged churches and pastors to equip parents to provide their children with a thoroughly Christian education. The amended resolution defined Christian education as “home schooling, truly Christian private schools or some other innovative model of private Christian education.”
“While I strongly support the right of parents to home school their children or send them to private school, it is their right and obligation to follow what God leads them to do regarding their family,” Goforth said. “However, the time to call our families from society completely has not yet come.”
Goforth reminded messengers that we are to be salt and light.
“I do not believe we should gather our salt back into the shaker and shine our light only in the daylight,” he said. “If we pull all our children and godly teachers away from this world then the darkness will completely overtake the schools and the hearts will spoil as the salt is removed.”
The amendment was defeated overwhelmingly.
Other Missouri Baptists went to microphones to engage in public debate over a variety of issues brought before messengers.
Doug Austin of Lynwood Baptist Church, Cape Girardeau, spoke against the formation of a committee to study a possible name change for the SBC. “Southern Baptist is not where we are, but who we are,” he said.
Mitchell Jackson, pastor, Miner Baptist Church, Sikeston, and MBC first vice president, expressed reservations concerning changes at the Annuity Board. Jeff Purvis, pastor, Westside Community Church, St. Louis, served as chairman of the SBC credentials committee and spoke for the SBC Executive Committee recommendation requesting New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary trustees to approve sole membership and include it in the institution’s governing documents.
|INDIANAPOLIS – Bud Lee of Blue Springs sings as his wife, Barbara, plays the piano during a Sunday morning worship service June 13 in the Indiana Convention Center prior to the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting.|
“Four years ago we (in Missouri) had five agencies attempt to leave,” Purvis noted, “but if we had had sole membership in their charters, we would not have had to spend $1 million in trying to get the agencies back.”
Michael Whitehead, a Kansas City attorney who heads the MBC’s legal effort to retrieve the five breakaway agencies and a deacon at First Baptist Church, Raytown, served as chairman on the SBC’s committee on Order of Business. Whitehead triggered widespread laughter from the audience during the heated debate over sole membership when one messenger referred to those supporting it as “hypocritical.”
“I am not a hypocrite,” deadpanned Whitehead. “I am a lawyer.”