IMB president: Situation
will work itself out in time
By Brian Koonce
February 21, 2006
CAPE GIRADEAU – Although the purpose of International Mission Board President Jerry Rankin’s Feb. 5 visit to Lynwood Baptist Church was to challenge the church in its mission efforts, he did take a moment to address one question concerning a recent controversy at the IMB.
In January, the IMB’s board of trustees voted to recommend the Southern Baptist Convention remove freshman trustee Wade Burleson, an Enid, Okla., pastor, from the board for “broken trust and resistance to accountability.”
However, IMB Chairman Thomas Hatley of Rogers, Ark., told the Southern Baptist TEXAN the board’s executive committee determined that the matter of disciplining a trustee can be handled internally. Meeting Feb. 10 in Atlanta, the committee reviewed the Burleson matter and acted unilaterally to offer the new plan. The committee will recommend reversing the previous motion at the board’s next meeting March 20-22 in Tampa, Fla.
But even before this latest development, Rankin did not publicly side with or against Burleson or the board, saying it is an “internal board issue.”
“Whatever controversy is involved, people are acting out of deep personal convictions for what they feel is best for the board,” he said. “We’re confident that it’s going to be worked out.”
Burleson has said the IMB board was seeking his removal because of his criticism of a “non-essential doctrine” change enacted by the IMB in November 2005 that bars those who speak in tongues – either publicly or in a private prayer language – from becoming missionaries.
Hatley told the Southern Baptist TEXAN that he will release a comprehensive explanation of the board’s earlier decision to assess missionary candidates regarding private prayer language and baptism, giving the historical and theological framework. Misinformation disseminated through informal weblogs caused confusion in the minds of some Southern Baptists, he said. He hopes a more detailed accounting of the timeline and rationale for those standards will help separate those issues from the matter of Burleson’s personal conduct as a trustee and answer questions that have arisen.