IMB trustees from Missouri shed little light on Burleson
By Brian Koonce
January 24, 2006
JEFFERSON CITY— At least two of the three International Mission Board (IMB) trustees from Missouri are remaining mum about the reasons for requesting the removal of one of their own.
IMB board members Bill Curp, director of missions for Jefferson Baptist Association and Jim Barnhart, associate pastor of Miner Baptist Church in Sikeston declined to discuss the reasons behind trustees’ actions to remove Oklahoma Pastor Wade Burleson from the board. Both said they deferred to the board’s chairman Tom Hatley.
Though he did not say why, Curp, the director of missions for Jefferson Baptist Association and fifth-year trustee, voted to recall Burleson.
“The board felt it was the best thing to do,” he said. “It was not because of a theological issue.”
Barnhart, still in his first year on the board, voted the same way Curp did. Shortly after the controversy erupted, he said there were many rumors flying around and he would prefer to wait to comment.
“This is sensitive issue,” he said.
When contacted again by The Pathway Jan. 20, Barnhart remained hesitant to talk about specifics.
“I still need to remain silent,” he said. “We’re trying to do some things internally to try to work on this.”
Curp said the IMB trustees are handling things as best they can.
“A lot of people are writing things but not a lot of people know exactly what’s going on,” Curp said. “If they don’t know what’s going on, I don’t see how this can be a big issue. I want people to know that we as trustees are trying to do the best thing that we can for the IMB and we felt like this was the best action to take.”
The news has sparked a flurry of activity on online webjournals – blogs – making the recall a big issue within many Baptist Internet circles. Burleson was “blogging” about the Jan. 9-11 trustees meetings, one of the reasons cited for his requested removal.
Burleson, the pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid, Okla. and former president of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, was elected to the IMB board at the 2005 annual meeting.
The trustees chairman’s statement specifically mentions the removal was not due to “opposition to policies recently enacted by the board” and Curp said it was not a theological issue. However, a common theme springing up on Baptist blogs is the IMB’s recently adopted guidelines for screening missionary candidates, specifically requiring them to be baptized in a Southern Baptist Church and excluding candidates who practice glossolia – or have a private prayer language. Burleson has disagreed with the IMB’s new positions on his blog.