MBC petitions to protect marriage catches Missouri lawmakers’ attention
By Bob Baysinger
March 30, 2004
|David Clippard, Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) executive director, center, explains to House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, R-Warson Woods, far left, the process involved in gathering more than 10,000 petition signatures in support of an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Listening in, left to right, are Rep. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, Rep. Mark Wright, R-Springfield and the assistant majority floor leader, Rodney Albert, chairman of the MBC’s Christian Life Commission and pastor, Hallsville Baptist Church, and Kerry Messer, lobbyist for the Christian Life Commission of the MBC. Pathway photo by Bob Baysinger|
JEFFERSON CITY – The delivery of 10,081 petition signatures to leaders of the Missouri General Assembly could mark the start of a new chapter in the life of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC).
Rodney Albert, chairman of the MBC’s Christian Life Commission, said the petition campaign in support of an amendment to the state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman identifies the convention’s concern for important issues.
“These signatures bring an awareness to legislators of Missouri Baptist interest and involvement in important social and moral issues," Albert said. “I think involvement will encourage like-minded legislators to be even more zealous and courageous in their efforts."
Albert accompanied David Clippard, MBC executive director, to the Capitol on March 17 to deliver copies of the petitions to House Speaker Catherine Hannaway, R-Warson Woods, and Senate Speaker Pro Tem Peter Kinder, R-Cape Girardeau.
Both Hannaway and Kinder thanked Missouri Baptists for their concern and support of important legislation dealing with moral issues.
“I think the legislators absolutely appreciated the effort put forth by Missouri Baptists and others who signed the petitions," Albert said. “I think they were impressed that we were able to do what we did in such a short amount of time."
The signatures were collected in about two weeks using the MBC Internet site, www.mobaptist.org, and paper petitions in churches.
“Collecting more than 10,000 signatures in two weeks is virtually unheard of," Albert said. “We didn’t have aggressive solicitation and we didn’t employ surveyors. The bulk of the signatures were the result of email-to-email communications, which generated a tremendous response."
Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill, House Speaker Pro Tem and a member of New Salem Baptist Church, told Clippard and Albert that what Southern Baptists in Missouri were doing was important.
“I appreciate you all taking a stand," Jetton said.
“It’s great to see Missouri Baptists step up and take a part in fighting for moral issues that make a difference in the family," Jetton said. “It seems like for years the Convention never did anything like that. They wouldn’t get involved.
“I’m thankful that we’ve now got leaders in the Missouri Baptist Convention who are willing to take a stand. It’s refreshing to see Baptists bringing petitions to the Capitol because the liberals are there espousing their views all the time."
Albert said the name-gathering process was an experiment that worked.
“We now have a system in place," Albert said. “We also have in the system more than 9,000 email addresses, and we’re hoping it will grow from here. We intend to get more organized and more efficient in our future efforts to make sure our energies are as effective as possible."