By Allen Palmeri
RAYTOWN—Constitutional changes involving the number of messengers allowed churches at the annual meeting of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) and replacing officers were voted on and approved by messengers Oct. 27 at First Baptist Church, Raytown.
An amendment entitling a church to one messenger for every 100 members or fraction thereof for every $2,500 given to the convention through the Cooperative Program in the previous reporting year was passed by the required two-thirds majority. A separate amendment increasing the maximum number of messengers per church from 15 to 20 was then placed on the table—a maneuver that was perceived to be of more benefit to the convention’s mega-churches than her smaller, rural congregations.
After much deliberation, a substitute amendment to cut it to 10 failed. That resulted in a subsequent vote to get a two-thirds majority on the change to allow 20 messengers. That failed by a large margin, 329-418 (44 percent to 56 percent).
Jeff Purvis, messenger, First Baptist Church, Herculaneum-Pevely, noted that Gerald Davidson, pastor emeritus, First Baptist Church, Arnold, and 2008 president of the MBC, was the driving force behind the amendment that eventually failed. Passing it would have sent the wrong message, Purvis said, because it would have hearkened back to the days when a few large and influential moderate churches essentially ran the convention by pooling their numbers and controlling voting blocs.
Purvis said he went to a microphone to deliver a bit of a history lesson, reminding messengers from whence they have come. He felt that his instruction coupled with the common-sense commentary of a few other Missouri Baptists led to the body of messengers going against the recommendation of the Committee on Continuing Review.
“I think that resonated with people, because we are a convention of small churches and bi-vocational pastors,” Purvis said.
The amendment that passed was authored by Doug Richey, messenger, Pisgah Baptist Church, Excelsior Springs.
“Now we have the opportunity for a lot of our churches to see an increase in the number of messengers,” he said.
Up next for messengers to perhaps ponder at the 2010 annual meeting is a proposed change that “messengers shall be members in good standing of the Missouri Baptist Convention churches that elect them.” The Committee on Continuing Review is to bring a report and recommendation on that language the next time messengers meet, which will be in Springfield.
Filling vacant officer positions was also addressed by messengers who voted to change the Constitution so that the Executive Board can ensure that it always has a full slate of officers.
In case of death, resignation, disability or ineligibility of the secretary, first vice president and/or second vice president, or of the succession of either to the office of president, the resulting vacancy or vacancies shall now be filled by the Executive Board for the unexpired term. This shall be done at the first Executive Board meeting following the action creating the vacancy with nominations being taken from the floor and a simple majority required for election.
One situation that helped prompt this move took place in 2008 when a pastor moved out of state and the MBC had to go most of the year without a recording secretary.
Messengers opted to grant membership in the MBC to 17 churches. They are: Bethel Baptist, St. Louis; Briarcliff Baptist, Gladstone: Brush Arbor Baptist, Center; First Baptist, Chesterfield; Cornerstone Baptist, Centralia; Crosspoint Fellowship, Republic; Eastern Missouri Cowboy, Bowling Green; HaDerekh Chaim, Gladstone; Holy Trinity Missionary, Macon; House to House, St. Louis; Laclede Cowboy, Lebanon; Paradise Outfitter, Oak Grove; Racket Lake, Warsaw; Redeemer, O’Fallon; The King is Coming, St. Louis; Truth Bible, Kansas City; and V-Twin Biker, Springfield.
Messengers also acknowledged removal from the MBC ranks of 14 churches that have either requested that status or have disbanded. They are: Aullville Baptist; Clear Creek, Pierce City; Cornerstone Baptist, Macon; Duncan Road Baptist, Blue Springs; F.L.I.G.H.T., Moberly; Korean Baptist Church of Love, Kansas City; Laotian Baptist, Kansas City; First Baptist, Maimi; Mision Agua Viva, Cuba; Russian Chapel, Independence; South Liberty Baptist, Liberty; The Harvest, Columbia; The River’s Edge, Troy; and Urban Impact, Kansas City.
In another vote by messengers, the Executive Board was instructed by means of a change to the MBC’s Business & Financial Plan to report to the churches annually the receipts from the churches and the distribution of these funds in accordance with the budgets approved by the convention. The previous reporting standard was quarterly.