Executive Board approves $200,000 to fight cloning
OSAGE BEACH—The Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Board on Oct. 31 authorized a recommendation from the Audit/Finance Work Group of the Support Services Committee that $200,000 from reserves be given to the Christian Life Commission (CLC) for the battle against human cloning.
The original request, made by Board Member Kerry Messer, minister, First Baptist Church, Festus-Crystal City, now stipulates that if funds are given to another group that an accounting will be made to the CLC. The money will also be escrowed until December.
Last year the MBC authorized two expenditures of $100,000 and $150,000 in funding for the first cloning campaign, which resulted in a narrow defeat at the polls. Very soon the Cures Without Cloning (CWC) initiative is expected to be on the move, with Missouri Baptists once again supplying energy within a broad coalition.
“We are seen as leaders in this battle by non-Baptists in this state,” Messer said. “This vote for $200,000 signals that our commitment and resolve remain, and that we’re not hesitant about being leaders. The part that makes me proudest is that we are no longer hesitant about putting our money where our mouth is.”
Messer and his fellow board members observed a clear green light from their new chairman, Gerald Davidson, who never stuttered, stammered or wavered right out of the starting gate on a moral issue. Earlier in the day, messengers expressed their view by passing a resolution encouraging Missouri Baptists to support the efforts of CWC in seeking a true ban on all human cloning in Missouri by prayers, verbal encouragement, letters, volunteering and financial assistance.
“I’m proud that our new president has a distinctive reputation for supporting such proactive leadership stands on issues of this nature,” Messer said. “I’m proud that our Executive Board stands behind this. I’m proud that our convention meeting in Osage Beach has confirmed and encouraged this.”
CWC can count on the MBC as “a significant partner” who will stand tall against human cloning and the destruction of human life. In the final two months of the year the CWC is in a court battle that will determine the fairness and constitutionality of the ballot summary language, Messer said. This is a battle over the summary question voters see in the ballot booth, not the actual amendment. Once this language issue is settled, the collecting of signatures in a volunteer-driven petition drive can commence.
“It bolsters them,” he said. “It helps build a stronger foundation under their efforts, even as more and more Baptist churches sponsor training events for volunteer petition circulators.”
In other action both in and around the 173rd annual meeting of the MBC at Tan-Tar-A, messengers affirmed a planned 2008 gift to Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MBTS) of $100,000 by rejecting a motion made Oct. 30 to strike it from the Book of Reports.
The motion by David Daughenbaugh, messenger, Cornerstone Baptist Church, Lamar, to strike the item, which describes an endowment for the MBC Mission and Evangelism Chair, failed by about a three-quarters to one-quarter margin in the Tuesday morning session.
“We need a conservative presence in the Kansas City area that believes in the infallibility, inerrancy and authority of God’s Word, and we feel that this (gift) will help to further that,” said Executive Board Member Jeff Purvis, pastor, First Baptist Church, Herculaneum-Pevely.
Purvis, who served extensively on the MBC Inter-agency Committee and is now chairman of the Administrative Committee, mentioned that he has fought to get more funding for the convention’s two universities, Southwest Baptist University and Hannibal-LaGrange College. The budget approved by messengers at Tan-Tar-A increased funding for those institutions from a 13 percent level to 13.5 percent. The goal is to gradually build up funding for higher education, Purvis said.
Part of an Ad Hoc Theological Study Committee unofficial report was read to Executive Board members Oct. 29 before a vote was taken to postpone hearing the rest of it until the December board meeting. The privilege of hearing an unofficial minority report was also affirmed with a eye toward December. The unofficial reports now will be available to be read by Missouri Baptists who request copies of them. The committee’s body of work encompasses eight meetings from Feb. 8 through July 3.
One of the ideas put forth by MBC Interim Executive Director David Tolliver was that Executive Board members be seen serving as ushers during the annual meeting. About a dozen answered the call.
Board members also voted to ratify the annexation of the Old Bethel church property by Jackson so that the site where the historic church is located will be able to receive police and fire protection as well as water, sewer and electric services from the city.