Continuing Review affirms one item, rejects four
JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Committee on Continuing Review voted to recommend amending the MBC Business and Financial Plan as one of five items on the agenda March 27 at the Baptist Building.
The other four items, which would have amended the MBC Constitution and Bylaws as well as the MBC Nominating Committee Rules, were rejected. The process of rejection led to the six committee members brainstorming here and there on how to best support the work of the MBC Nominating Committee, concluding that other methods would be preferred.
The one vote of recommendation that came out of the March 27 meeting was for messengers to the 2007 annual meeting to approve that requests for non-budget expenditures be automatically referred to the MBC Executive Board’s Audit/Finance Work Group (Support Services Committee) for review and recommendation to the full board.
“This is one way to basically keep us from constantly dipping into the reserve fund without giving it a little more thought before we do that,” said David Krueger, committee chairman and pastor of First Baptist Church, Linn.
In the past, board members have been able to immediately vote on and secure funds in $100,000 increments for such things as gifts to seminaries and colleges and the battle to defeat human embryonic stem cell research.
The four motions that failed were all made by Keith Vawter, former pastor at First Baptist Church, Mansfield, and a current employee of the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home. Vawter was a messenger at last year’s annual meeting in Cape Girardeau when he made the motions.
“When you look at the recommendations that he brought to the convention, on the surface, every single one of them had very good intentions,” Krueger said. “But you go back to the old adage, ‘Words mean things.’ When you look closely at each one of the motions that he was offering, each one of them really fundamentally changed the way we were doing things as a convention or as a Nominating Committee. So we really felt like we understood his heart and his intention, (but) we felt like we ultimately had to vote not to recommend them to the convention for the simple fact that we feel like there are other ways to accomplish what he’s wanting to do without necessarily changing the convention’s constitution and bylaws.”
The first motion would have changed the constitution by replacing the current deadline date for churches to present names of prospective Executive Board members from July 10 to the end of the last day of business at the previous year’s annual meeting. After some discussion about whether a deadline date in either January or April would be more appropriate, the motion was defeated. That resulted in the defeat of Vawter’s third motion, which was a parallel motion that would have amended the MBC Bylaws.
The second Vawter motion appeared to have momentum among the six committee members with comments to the effect of how it “cleans up the language” and serves a “housekeeping” function. The motion was a proposed change to the MBC Bylaws that would have replaced Article VII, Section 4 with: “No person will be eligible to serve on more than one of the commissions or boards of the MBC at a time.” This was presented as identical language to No. 11 of the MBC Nominating Committee Rules and Procedures.
However, a question was raised as to whether this might force officers like MBC President Mike Green to give up their places on boards such as Hannibal LaGrange College, where Green presently serves. This seemed to sway votes the other way, with Krueger announcing he had shifted his position, and the vote turned out to be an affirmation of leaving the Nominating Committee Rule No. 11 as the determining procedure. (Rule No. 11, it was mentioned, already has been approved by the convention.)
The final Vawter motion was an attempt to change the MBC Nominating Committee Rules so that churches with 1,000 members or more could not be represented by a maximum of three persons on convention boards and commissions. The motion was worded to reduce that number to two. The Committee on Continuing Review ultimately voted to reject this potential remedy as well.
Krueger emphasized that while it is proper for individual Baptist messengers to propose major changes of this order, it is never a light thing to alter the MBC Constitution. Other remedies ought to be considered, he said.
“The answer is really doing a better job of promotion and encouraging Baptists to be involved in the process,” he said.
Green mentioned how Nominating Committee Chairman Bruce McCoy has been doing a stellar job of meeting with Missouri Baptists all over the state to generate more nominees for vacant positions.
“Bruce has gone around and tried to have meetings around the state, give people an opportunity to share and open up, which I think is a very good thing to do,” Green said.
Anyone can submit a name for consideration through the MBC website. It was even pointed out in the March 27 meeting that it is totally appropriate to submit your own name. Here is the link: www.mobaptist.org/nominations.
“More than anything, I think we’ve just got to encourage somehow more this year and each year to get churches to send in recommendations,” Green said.
Krueger gave a brief testimony of how important it is for Missouri Baptist pastors to reject an attitude of apathy—which he had for about 20 years—for the purpose of taking more ownership in the work of their Nominating Committee. Krueger said he freely admits to his shame.
“It really comes down to the churches and the pastors having to be more involved in the life of the convention,” he said. “For many years as a pastor, I would see in the state paper the article asking for recommendations to the Nominating Committee, and up until about 10 years ago, I ignored those. I never nominated anybody to serve in any place in the convention.
“Then a friend of mine, who was serving on the Executive Board, called me up and said, ‘We’re desperate for somebody to serve on the Nominating Committee. We need somebody from the Central area. Do you have somebody?’ I said, ‘Yeah, I do. Let me talk to him first and see if he’s willing.’ It’s not that our governing documents are flawed. It’s just that Baptists have got to be more involved in the process.”
In an earlier interview with The Pathway, McCoy summarized where he would like to see Missouri Baptists go in terms of a remedy.
“I want to give this year’s Nominating Committee the greatest database of qualified Missouri Baptists we’ve ever had,” he said.