CBF supporters, critical of the MBC, using MBC-provided annuity services
Including some that signed Tichenor’s divisive amicus brief
By Bob Baysinger
August 3, 2004
JEFFERSON CITY – Several Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) leaders in Missouri – consistent critics of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) and its conservative direction and leadership – are continuing to use the annuity services provided by the MBC.
Pathway research shows also that several prominent Baptist General Convention of Missouri (BGCM) representatives are continuing in the annuity program, including Jean Osborn, First Baptist, Chillicothe; James Hill Jr., Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, Jefferson City, and Richard Manley, Joplin Heights Baptist Church, Joplin. Both Osborn and Hill, son of former MBC Executive Director Jim Hill, have served on the BGCM Board of Directors. It was First Chillicothe’s pastor, James Morgan, who signed the article of incorporation for the BGCM.
The CBF, however, has the largest contingent of participants.
Bob Webb, for example, is one of the leading CBF operatives in Missouri.
Webb, pastor of Memorial Baptist Church, Columbia, is the elected moderator for the CBF of Missouri. Records in the MBC annuity office show that Webb invests monthly in the annuity program – a program designed to provide investment and retirement opportunities for Southern Baptist pastors and other church and denominational workers.
Webb played host to a seminar more than a year ago, offering resources to churches he said “would be useful to a church trying to discern where they belong in the denomination.” Seminars such as the one at Webb’s church are a popular tool used by the CBF to stir churches to question their relationship with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and MBC.
Memorial is also the home church of attorney Bart Tichenor, author of an amicus curiae brief filed in Cole County Circuit Court in November 2002 against the MBC in its legal quest to retrieve five of its renegade agencies where trustee boards voted to go self-perpetuating.
Another CBF church listed as an annuity participant is University Heights Baptist Church, Springfield.
Michael Olmsted, University Heights pastor, recently sent a scathing letter to David Clippard, MBC executive director, suggesting that the Convention has no compassion for the hungry, the prisoner and the naked.
“The reality is that you and your zealous supporters (sic) are more interested in power and control than kingdom work because your words and actions have no connection with the Jesus we know from the Bible.”
Olemstead’s church, along with Manley’s, were among 35 churches who signed onto Tichenor’s amicus brief.
Other churches continuing to participate in the annuity program and listed on the Internet as CBF churches in Missouri are:
Cornerstone Baptist Church, Columbia; First Baptist Church, Cape Girardeau; First Baptist Church, Independence; First Baptist Church, Jefferson City; First Baptist Church, Lee’s Summit; First Baptist Church, Sweet Springs; University Heights Baptist Church, Springfield; and Winnwood Baptist Church, Kansas City.
First Baptist, Cape Girardeau; First Baptist, Jefferson City; University Heights and Winnwood all joined Tichenor’s amicus brief opposing the MBC. Nearly half of the 2,485 individuals who signed the brief are members of churches sympathetic to the CBF, Missouri CBF or the BGCM.
The MBC has a long-standing requirement that a church must contribute at least $450 annually to the Cooperative Program per annuity participant to be eligible for the retirement and investment services.
Reports that CBF members are still involved in Southern Baptist life come as no surprise, said David Tolliver, MBC president.
“They’ve been Southern Baptists all those years and are not that far from retirement,” Tolliver said. “Bob Webb and the others do not want to step out; they need to provide for themselves and their families.
“Southern Baptists have tried to deal with the problem – unsuccessfully so far. The question is how can we be completely fair. They’ve been contributing 20 years or more. They are now a part of the CBF and they don’t want to give up those years of investments (while in the SBC). I am one who thinks we ought to be able to find a way to be fair to those guys.”