Credentials Committee to recommend disqualification for 18 churches
JEFFERSON CITY – Acting on what messengers approved at last year’s Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) in Springfield, the MBC Credentials Committee has personally contacted and interviewed 27 churches about their relationship with the MBC. Now, in follow-up to that research, they have sent letters to 18 Missouri Baptist churches to inform them that they are in violation of single alignment.
Messengers to the 172nd annual meeting Oct. 30-Nov. 1 at the Show Me Center on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau will be given an opportunity to receive or reject the recommendations of the Credentials Committee that representatives from these 18 churches not be seated as messengers in this or future annual meetings.
The action builds upon what John Holstein, then chairman of the Committee on Continuing Review, stated at the 171st annual meeting. Holstein said single alignment will promote an orderly, prayerful process that will successfully determine whether a church is theologically in step with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) and the MBC, as opposed to other more theologically liberal denominations/fellowships.
Rick Seaton, chairman of the MBC Credentials Committee, noted that each church that is financially supporting the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) and Baptist General Convention of Missouri (BGCM) through its budget ought to prayerfully examine its fellowship heart, in light of the MBC’s open and ongoing love for the SBC. It is obvious that a trueSouthern Baptist MBC has emerged, Seaton said. By their actions, the 18 churches in question at press time have denied the truth of that emergence, he said.
“We certainly are not selectively targeting any church,” Seaton said. “We have wanted to be informed of each church concerning their relationship with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Baptist General Convention of Missouri, and if they are aligned with either one of those, then we felt responsible to take action. These 18 churches are in violation of single alignment either in regard to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship or the Baptist General Convention of Missouri.”
Seaton, pastor of First Baptist Church of Kahoka, flatly rebuffed the accusation advanced through other Baptist media that his committee has been “selectively targeting” churches for their ouster.
The Credentials Committee is not conducting “a witch hunt” of hundreds of Baptist churches in Missouri so that they can be lined up as targets, he said. In fact, some Missouri Baptist churches named in previous Credentials Committee letters have never been, or no longer are, MBC churches. The MBC respects the right of those churches to determine their own status, he said. No action is needed.
So the Credentials Committee has no fight to pick with any of the so-called “targeted” churches that may be highlighted in other Baptist media, Seaton said. It is true that some churches listed in a Sept. 12 Pathway article as candidates for disqualification may already have opted by their own decisions to remove themselves from the MBC, he said. That is fine. Every Missouri Baptist church has a right to make its choice, he said.
The 18 churches being recommended by the Credentials Committee for disqualification are: Chandler, Liberty; Cornerstone, Columbia; Cornerstone, Lee’s Summit; First, Cape Girardeau; First, Hamilton; First, Independence; First, Jefferson City; First, Lee’s Summit; First, Savannah; First, Smithville; First, Sweet Springs; Grace Point (formerly Swope Park), Kansas City; Little Bonne Femme, Columbia; Olive Branch, Sedalia; Rock Falls, Orrick; Third, St. Louis; University Heights, Springfield; and Winnwood, Kansas City.
Seaton said he is proud of the work that his committee has done this year. Serving with him are: Bruce McCoy, pastor, Canaan Baptist Church, St. Louis; Eleanore Warner, laity, Eolia Baptist Church; Jim McCullen, pastor, Liberty Baptist Church, Belgrade; and Wesley Hammond, pastor, First Baptist Church, Paris. McCullen, Warner and Hammond also serve on the MBC Executive Board.
“Each member has been very diligent and very capable,” Seaton said. “They all have contributed great insights. It’s been a delight to work with them.
“We certainly think we’ve been diligent and faithful and we hope the messengers understand that and support our recommendation.”
Messengers will hear Seaton give the committee’s report at 9 a.m. Oct. 31. If they vote to approve the recommendations, messengers from the 18 churches in question will be asked to turn in their ballots at the registration booth. Those who wish to continue attending the annual meeting will be allowed to do so as guests.
Seaton’s chairmanship will end in Cape Girardeau. Hammond will, in effect, swap chairs with Seaton as he becomes chairman for the period leading up to the 2007 annual meeting with Seaton staying on as a member.
“He will be very conscientious and very precise,” Seaton said. “He’ll do his homework and provide great leadership.”