The recovery journey began in 2001 with the idea that it would take just a few months to reclaim the corporations that removed themselves from the MBC family of ministries. The five entities filed legal papers to become self-perpetuating boards instead of boards duly elected by the MBC. After early reconciliation processes failed, litigation began.
Eighteen years later, the court-ordered mandate was issued on March 13 to seat MBC messengers. The final two entities, The Baptist Home and Missouri Baptist University, are in process of seating the trustees that you, the messengers of the Missouri Baptist Convention, elected for service.
For readers who are new to the state, this news may not be as “monumental” as it is for those who were here when the litigation began. I, too, am a newbie, but I watched from Oklahoma and Louisiana. I knew Missouri’s determination would help other state conventions with their entities through clarification of non-profit law.
Missouri Baptists persevered until the Court clarified the principle of stewardship. Namely, trustees that operate a university, a home for the aged, a foundation or any kind of ministry must be responsible and responsive to the people that selected them as stewards.
I know MBC lost the conference center and the state newspaper. That’s because their governing documents were voted on at an annual meeting and a little phrase was left out: “the convention must approve all charter changes.” Trusting their leaders, most people at that annual meeting were not aware of the consequences of that vote.
The absence of that phrase opened the door for both Windermere and the Word and Way to tragically walk away from the MBC family of ministries. However, Super Summer weeks at our universities, summer associational camps, and The Pathway have picked up the slack and have flourished in astounding ways.
Whether you were there in the beginning of this journey or a newbie, we are in this together. We should be grateful for the expressed desire by leadership at The Baptist Home and Missouri Baptist University to cooperate with the MBC and the duly-elected trustees to transition. That process has begun.
As you might imagine, several legal steps must be taken and initial organizing board meetings must be held. Missouri Baptist University is holding its orientation on campus March 28, along with a special called business meeting to deal with necessary transfers and legal matters. The first official meeting of the MBC trustees sitting in the seats for The Baptist Home is scheduled April 4-5 at the Baptist Building.
How do you respond to this good news? Relief? Shouts of joy? How would you act if someone in your family that you cared about was in an ideologically faraway land for 17 years? You would welcome them home. You would pray for them, and with them. You would support them.
Speaking of support, Missouri Baptists are comprised of some really wonderful large churches, but the vast majority of our churches are “normative”— that is, they run 60 or fewer in average Sunday worship. Any one church cannot do, on its own, the ministries of even one of our MBC ministries. But through the amazing power of cooperative giving, every church has the capacity to make a difference in a huge way through all of the ministries in the MBC and SBC.
Consider the vast scope of our Missouri Baptist Children’s Home that attempts to touch the lives of hurting families and individuals all across our great state. Our universities work to help students achieve their goals of being strong believers, while being excellent in their field of study. Our Foundation is working hard to help every church understand the absolute necessity of their services.
Our missionary staff engages in some powerful ministries, including the preparation and deployment of volunteers to disasters; helping churches become missionally engaged in church planting; helping state university students discover the hope that is in Christ; helping save the lives of children in the womb by coaching legislators on the value of every human life; and so much more.
At the same time, our cooperative giving places missionaries on the field who partner with our churches to reach people who do not have ready access to the gospel, and trains another generation of seminarians to lead our churches to be strong in the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 3). There is no mission-sending organization like our International Mission Board, where 60 percent of our missionaries are serving in places where the security is so high they must use a pseudonym.
Support for these amazing ministries, including all our entities, is critical in the years ahead. During the 17 years of litigation, there were a couple hundred MBC churches that decreased their Cooperative Program support. Some did so in protest to the process. Some began to support parachurch ministries instead of these powerful CP ministries. Some are painfully considering the survival of their church in a dying community.
But consider this: What would happen if every church increased CP giving by 1 percent of undesignated receipts, or $1 for every worship attender? The impact for Kingdom work would be phenomenal.
In this issue of The Pathway, you will find an insert that is the 2018 Cooperative Giving Report for each local church. Take a few moments to look up your local church. See what your church did for Cooperative Program missions and ministries. Is there something special the Lord wants to do through your church financially? Through you personally? Are you willing to trust Him? Remember, “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb. 11:6, CSB).