Single alignment working as designed
JEFFERSON CITY – Theological honesty and spiritual integrity continue to be promoted within the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) as some moderate churches respond unfavorably to single alignment changes to the MBC Constitution that were approved at the 2005 annual meeting.
Three churches – First Baptist, Lee’s Summit; Holmeswood Baptist, Kansas City and Windsor Baptist, Imperial – recently have acknowledged their differences with current MBC polity. In an Aug. 2 letter to the MBC Credentials Committee, Pastor Scott Harrison and Chairman of the Deacons Ray Sutterby of First Lee’s Summit pinpointed the divide.
“We understand that because of our budget giving we do not meet the requirements of the Missouri Baptist Convention’s single alignment policy,” Harrison and Sutterby wrote. They went on to blame the MBC for ending the relationship with the church, making no mention of the church’s responsibility to comply with the requirements of single alignment.
In an official MBC document containing questions and answers on single alignment, it is communicated that any church that includes the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) or Baptist General Convention of Missouri (BGCM) in its budget will be disqualified from membership in the MBC. The document states that in this case, “that church, by its own action, has chosen to disassociate itself with the MBC. Individual giving is not dictated by a local church and neither will an individual’s personal choices hold an entire church hostage. But if the church body votes to take a position like this, then the church has spoken about its desires for fellowship with the MBC.”
In an Aug. 7 letter to the Credentials Committee, Holmeswood Pastor Keith Herron wrote that the church “voluntarily disaffiliated” itself from the MBC in 2001. And 92 percent of the members of Windsor Baptist voted May 21 to end their church’s relationship with the MBC, according to news reports. In the context of theological honesty and spiritual integrity, these are the types of decisions that ought to be made in Missouri, according to MBC Nominating Committee Chairman Roger Moran, who was instrumental in the conservative resurgence which brought the MBC closer to the Southern Baptist Convention.
“Probably the most important aspect of the issue of single alignment will be the degree of theological honesty and spiritual integrity it will encourage,” Moran told The Pathway. “If the heart of the church is bent toward the theologically liberal CBF and its various sister organizations, why then would it also want to work with the theologically conservative MBC and SBC?”
Credentials Committee Chairman Rick Seaton agreed with Moran that the process is working as it ought to work.
“Our hope and prayer throughout this process has been that churches would be reconciled with the MBC,” Seaton said. “The convention has clearly and faithfully communicated what qualifies and disqualifies churches for membership. The Credentials Committee is simply following the guidelines put before us by the convention in 2005.
“It is regrettable that some churches are making the choices they are making concerning single alignment. While we believe that God’s will is being accomplished through this process, it is with grief and respect that we accept these decisions and will act upon them at the annual meeting.”