MBC continues down conservative path
Messengers to 172nd annual meeting
pass a bevy of motions, resolutions
CAPE GIRARDEAU – Messengers to the 172nd annual meeting of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Oct. 30 through Nov. 1 at the Show Me Center here elected for the 10th consecutive year a slate of theologically conservative officers and disqualified 19 churches under single alignment changes approved at last year’s annual meeting.
Mike Green, 24-year pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, Republic, and the MBC first vice president, was elected president without opposition. Also elected as officers without opposition were the rest of the Missouri Baptist Laymen’s Association (MBLA)-endorsed slate: Bruce McCoy, pastor, Canaan Baptist Church, St. Louis, first vice president; Jim Cogdill, director of missions, Cape Baptist Association, second vice president; and Lisa Albert, wife of Rodney Albert, chairman of the MBC’s Christian Life Commission and pastor of Hallsville Baptist Church, recording secretary.
The convention was also marked by appearances by four special guests. Joyce Rogers, widow of Adrian Rogers, longtime pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tenn., made some brief remarks on the morning of Oct. 31, and U.S. Sen. Jim Talent spoke to the messengers Nov. 1. On the evening of Oct. 31, International Mission Board (IMB)President Jerry Rankin and Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) President Frank Page both spoke during an IMB appointment service where 67 new missionaries were sent out.
A total of 1,550 people, including 1,162 messengers, registered on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University for the annual meeting, which carried the theme “Renewing Our Passion,” based on Romans 1:8.
While a spirited and somewhat contentious debate broke out among the messengers on Oct. 31 over the future direction of the MBC, a three-strand cord of unity, conviction and pride continues to hold Missouri Southern Baptists together, said Kerry Messer, MBC Executive Board member and president of the MBLA.
“The majority of Southern Baptists here in Missouri are very united,” said outgoing MBC President Ralph Sawyer, who declined to run for a second one-year term so that he could better prioritize and address the needs of First Baptist Church, Wentzville, where he serves as senior pastor.
Missouri Baptists are theologically conservative. That message was sent once again through the disqualification of the 19 churches, including First Jefferson City, First Cape Girardeau, First Independence and First Lee’s Summit, each of which have ties with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) or the new rival Baptist General Convention of Missouri.
A representative of one of the disqualified churches, Third Baptist, St. Louis, said their church would be praying for the MBC and requested that messengers would respond in kind. It was the only public comment before messengers expressed their will.
Missouri is unique in its approach to single alignment in that no other state convention in the SBC has passed such a definite statement articulating the ever-strengthening ties between the MBC and SBC.
Gerald Davidson, former MBC president and former SBC first vice president, delivered the convention sermon. Rodney Albert will deliver the 2007 convention sermon during the 173rd annual meeting at Tan Tar A Resort in Osage Beach Oct. 29-31.
The MBC Executive Board welcomed nine new members to its ranks in addition to the three new officers elected. Besides those 12, three of the four previous officers will now serve varying terms on the new board.
The new members are: Vic Borden, pastor, Red Bridge Baptist Church, Kansas City; Alice Chastain, laity, First Baptist Church, Polo; Marshall Link, director of missions, Cane Creek Stoddard Baptist Association, Poplar Bluff; Denny Marr, pastor, Calvary Baptist Church, Republic; Mark McMullin, pastor, First Baptist Church, Piedmont; Justin Nelson, pastor, South Creek Church, Springfield; Kim Petty, laity, Grace Community Church, Smithville; Ron Turnbull, laity, Elm Grove Baptist Church, Curryville; and Jim Wells, director of missions, Tri County Baptist Association.
Sawyer, having served one year as president, will now serve a fresh three-year term as a board member. Knight, pastor, First Baptist Church, Viburnum, having served a year as second vice president, will serve on the board for one year. Jason Rogers, laity, First Baptist Church, Winfield, will serve on the board until 2008 after having served this past year as recording secretary.
The MBC also said goodbye to 11 departing board members: David Baker, pastor, Belton; Darrell Decker, laity, Springfield; John Garland, pastor, Bonne Terre; Michael Graves, pastor, Springfield; Cindy Jackson, laity, Sikeston; Barbara Link Jones, laity, Osage Beach; Ken Jones, pastor, Portageville; Wayne Malone, pastor, Weston; Jerry Sheridan, laity, Raytown; Jeff White, pastor, Springfield; and Earl Wood, pastor, Eldon.
Speakers included: Tony Preston, assistant professor of pastoral leadership, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MBTS), Kansas City, who did theme interpretation; Ken Freeman, evangelist; John Marshall, pastor, Second Baptist Church, Springfield; and Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Marshall told the story of Old Bethel, the oldest non-Catholic church west of the Mississippi River that is being rebuilt in its 200th anniversary year near Cape Girardeau. He wanted to show a video on two big screens, and it failed to work at first. Marshall said the Old Bethel church members would have handled that problem differently in 1806 than the way we typically handle it in 2006. “They would have shot it,” he said, touching off laughter among the messengers.
Land said that Americans are a people that have problems of the heart, soul and spirit. Only God can solve these problems. Missouri Baptists are to be a city on a hill, Land said, letting their light shine so that men may see these various good works and glorify God’s name.
The MBC remains locked in a five-year legal battle with five agencies whose theologically moderate trustees voted to amend their charters, making their boards self-perpetuating. The status of Windermere Baptist Conference Center, Missouri Baptist College, the Baptist Home, the Missouri Baptist Foundation and Word & Way remains uncertain as the legal maneuvering continues. The MBC Legal Task Force provided messengers with an update.
Messengers approved the MBC entering into a three-year partnership to plant churches with the Baptist Association of El Salvador beginning Jan. 1. The convention’s current partnership with Romanian Baptists was extended for one more year.
Resolutions on such topics as the sufficiency of Scripture in a therapeutic culture, recovering a biblical maintenance of church membership and covenant marriage were passed. Messengers also approved a resolution encouraging Missouri Baptist church members to exercise moral stewardship regarding the businesses they patronize, keeping in mind that Wal-Mart in August asked and received permission to join the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, pledging to give them $25,000 annually and helping Wal-Mart to “advance diversity,” or homosexuality. In doing so, messengers affirmed their conviction that biblical marriage is between one man and one woman.
Amendment 2, the embryonic stem cell initiative that was voted on Nov. 7, faced “absolute and unwavering opposition” within the MBC, according to another resolution approved in Cape Girardeau. Missouri Baptists were encouraged to participate in a day of fasting and prayer Nov. 5 in an effort to defeat the amendment.
Other resolutions expressed support for pregnancy resource centers, bi-vocational pastors and the Old Bethel restoration project.
Messengers approved a $16.5 million budget for 2007, with one percent set aside for Cooperative Program (CP) missions education and promotion. The remaining $16,335,000, or 36 percent, will be designated for SBC causes, and 64 percent for MBC work. That represents .25 percent more for Southern Baptist work than was budgeted for 2006. In 2006 messengers approved a $17.05 million budget. The 2007 budget sets a goal of $4 million for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for international missions, $2 million for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American missions, and $325,000 for the World Hunger Offering;
A vision statement for the MBC was approved that reads “Cooperating Missouri Southern Baptist churches penetrating all people groups with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” The vision statement is based on Matthew 28:18-20. The vision statement will stand alongside the mission statement of “Missouri Baptists serving together to grow Great Commission churches for the glory of God.” It replaces the previous vision statement of “Radical commitment to kingdom growth through healthy churches;”
Authorization was given to Hannibal-LaGrange College to expand its program offerings beyond the undergraduate level to the graduate level.