By Allen Palmeri
ORLANDO, Fla.—Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Executive Director David Tolliver did what he said he would do at the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting, moving that the messengers receive “as information” the final report of the Great Commision Resurgence (GCR) Task Force.
Messengers voted overwhelmingly June 15 to reject his motion before going on to pass the entire report in similar fashion. Although the official vote tally was unknown, some estimates of the number of messengers voting with Tolliver ranged from 25-35 percent.
Tolliver argued that Southern Baptists needed more time to study the task force’s findings. Due to the enormous scope and broad implications of the seven components, Tolliver reasoned a simple up and down vote in Orlando would not be sufficient. Earlier he had secured the backing of the MBC Executive Board on the matter and did what that board, the one that holds him accountable, wanted him to do, which is to try to refer the matter to the SBC Executive Committee “for study and evaluation.” The findings of the Executive Committee, Tolliver said, could then be reported to messengers of the next SBC annual meeting for convention action following more input from boards and agencies as well.
Tolliver reminded messengers that Jesus wants us to count the cost before entering any kind of major undertaking.
“We have not counted the cost of this report,” Tolliver said.
“We don’t know the ramifications or the implications of the report. We don’t know the financial ramifications. We don’t know the organizational ramifications.”
Applause began to build in the Orange County Convention Center as Tolliver moved toward his conclusion.
“Why don’t we take some time and study that? Why don’t we put those trustees that we have elected and serve (and his words became inaudible). I never want to be an obstructionist. I never want to vote no. I never want to tell anybody no, but you’re putting me in that position by not giving me full information.”
R. Albert Mohler Jr., a member of the GCR Task Force and president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky., responded to Tolliver’s request by saying that every point in the task force’s report speaks to his concerns.
“If you follow the logic of this amendment, no committee will ever be able to bring any recommendation before this convention,” Mohler said, adding that the task force’s motions were written with “due deference and appreciation for our polity” to promote trust in the trustee system from this point onward. Mohler’s remarks drew much applause, and afterwards Tolliver came away from Orlando saying he would comply with the vote of the majority.
This was an SBC annual meeting that was marked by change. Tolliver said the June 14 choice of Frank Page to be the next president of the SBC Executive Committee was proper. He further noted on June 21 in an interview at the Baptist Building that he feels comfortable working with Page.
“Frank Page is a Cooperative Program champion,” Tolliver said in Orlando. “Even as pastor of a very large church he gave over 12 percent through the Cooperative Program. I am pleased that the man in this position be someone who understands and emphasizes the importance of cooperation in reaching the world for Christ.”
Page was elected on a 44-30 vote, which to some could have been viewed as the first indicator of a difference of opinion among messengers concerning the June 15 vote on the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) report.
In other convention news, Jim Goforth, pastor, New Life Baptist Church, Florissant, lost a very close four-way race for second vice president to Eric Moffett, pastor, First Baptist Church, Sparkman, Ark., by only 17 votes. Jim Wells, director of missions, Tri-County Baptist Association, Nixa, was re-elected registration secretary by acclamation.
Kent Cochran, messenger, Calvary Baptist Church, Republic, proposed an amendment to Article VI of the SBC Constitution that would amend the SBC Constitution so that anybody at the SBC or state convention level whose salary would be paid by CP dollars would be barred from serving as either a trustee or a director of an SBC agency. His motion was referred to the SBC Executive Committee.
Last year Cochran made a motion asking for a report on expenditures related to Mark Driscoll and/or the Acts 29 Network. Cochran had asked the 2009 convention to request during the next fiscal year that all SBC entities should monitor and report the expenditure of budgeted funds for any activities related to Driscoll and/or Acts 29 and that each agency head should submit a report of its expenditures to the SBC 2010 to appear in the Book of Reports. “Nothing to report,” was the response to the motion made by Mohler.
The 2011 SBC annual meeting will be held June 14-15 in Phoenix.