Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My Daily Convention Report

Officer Elections

So, who all predicted that the presidential election would be settled on the first ballot, while the second vice presidential election would go into a runoff? Whoever you are, I would like to visit with you about some stocks I'm considering for purchase! What an unexpected day!

First, the presidential election:

I am happy with Dr. Johnny Hunt's election and I'm confident that he will make a good president. His sermon Sunday night was the highlight of the Pastors Conference and was an encouragement to me. I am proud of Frank Cox, believing that he articulated a strong positive vision for the Southern Baptist Convention. I am glad that both of these men are leaders in our convention.

Dr. Hunt has articulated a passionate vision for pastors to be more faithful to share the gospel with lost people in our ministry locales. Will you join me in praying that God will bring Bro. Johnny's vision to pass? Surely his vision is our need.

Second, the vice-presidential elections

Would you believe that they aren't over yet?! Tomorrow morning at 8:20 am I will (once again) cast my ballot for Dr. John Newland. If you've never met Dr. Newland, you can. He's been serving as an usher for the convention and has been on station for, as far as I can tell, virtually every minute of the convention. From usher to vice-president? Sounds to me just like a promotion Jesus would make.

Dr. Bill Henard won the first vice presidency with an astounding 73% of the cast ballots. Congratulations are in order, as are our best wishes and prayers for Dr. Henard for the year to come.

Noteworthy Motions

The press is taking note of the motion to declare Broadway Baptist Church of Fort Worth, TX, not to be in friendly cooperation with the convention. Broadway Baptist Church is a homosexuality-affirming congregation. I don't know why this is so newsworthy. Southern Baptists amended Article III of our convention several years ago—this motion is merely the logical extension of that vote. Someone will try to convince the Executive Committee that the problem was the pastor, not the congregation. But two out of three church members voted to express their confidence in the pastor's leadership during the controversy, and no corrective action has been taken toward the members in question.

The unfolding of the motion will consume at least a year, and I think it a good and biblical thing for Broadway Baptist to have that time to consider their grave error and to consider that they might repent.

Long-time Executive Committee employee Jack Wilkerson, who was Vice President of Business and Finance until last September, moved a proposed amendment to the SBC constitution to prevent entity heads from serving as SBC President. Hmmm…whatever might have prompted him to make that motion?

Let us all thank our lucky stars that Jack Wilkerson was not around in 1845. We would have no Boyce presidency. We would likely have no Cooperative Program (an offshoot of the Seventy-Five Million Campaign championed by entity-head-and-SBC-president Lee Rutland Scarborough), no Baptist Faith & Message (crafted largely by entity-head-and-SBC-president Edgar Young Mullins), no 2000 revision of the BF&M (championed by entity-head-and-SBC-president Paige Patterson)—I'm not sure that the SBC would have endured to 2008 if Jack Wilkerson's proposed rules had been in place early in our history, but certainly our history would be much, much different.

Good leadership is a gift from God—I recommend that, rather than shackling the ballot hands of the messengers with arbitrary rules, we leave them free to take whatever godly leadership the Lord chooses to send our way.

Fellowship with other people

Enough that it is 12:26 AM and I'm still not in bed. But I'm going to remedy that problem right.....now.

11 comments:

Scott Gordon said...

Bart,

Good to spend some time with you my brother.

Good work on the RCM resolution...and how does it feel to have established the BIG/SBF coalition?
;-)

SOLA GRATIA!

Gary said...

But, and this really seems important, is a salamander a fish?

Dewayne said...

Ted Traylor's quote, word for word, concerning FBC Woodstock's giving to the CP:

"Last year First Baptist Church, Woodstock, GA...they invested 3.3 million dollars [to] Southern Baptist Convention mission related causes through the Cooperative Program at the direct request of the International Mission Board and in partnership with our own North American Mission Board and their state convention there in Georgia."

Is this an honest and accurate statement from Traylor?

Bart Barber said...

Dewayne,

I guess it all depends upon what the meaning of the word is is. :-)

Does the true meaning of the phrase "Cooperative Program" lie in the eye of the giver or the eye of the recipient. By the recipient's (the SBC's) definition, if I understand the nature of Woodstock's gifts, the statement was not accurate. However, during my church's season of changing state convention affiliations, we gave money that we considered to be Cooperative Program giving, but that did not match the recently-adopted definition (as long as it is not an ex post facto ruling, I guess I get to keep my claim to honesty). We were designating money around the BGCT because we regarded a "program" of 80% of the gifts retained in-state as something less than "cooperative" in nature.

So, we all have to acknowledge that there are nuances in the definition of what is and what is not a Cooperative Program gift. Nevertheless, I believe that there are some boundaries that we can set. The rationale of the Cooperative Program is that of a multi-tiered, multi-institutional, undesignated gift. Hence:

1. That which does not make some provision for state, national, and international ministries of somewhere under the SBC umbrella is not Cooperative Program giving.

2. That which does not make some provision for the various agencies undergirded by CP funding is not Cooperative Program giving.

3. That which is designated for a particular task or project is not Cooperative Program giving.

Anonymous said...

Bart,

I hate to disagree with you, but...

I personally am in favor of the Wilkerson motion. Certain people, who I surmise you want to be president, are actually more effective for changing the SBC and America's perception/reception of it where they are. You do make a valid point about the historical moves made by dual-empowered leaders...but I fear that may be an age that has past us when we see the SBC as political and factional.

Andrew H.

Bart Barber said...

Andrew,

If nobody ever disagreed, nobody would read. ;-)

I'm all in favor of our weighing the merits of whether any individual would make a good SBC President or whether such an individual would better serve in another place. Those are just the questions that help us to decide whom we wish to elect as SBC President.

The question before us is this: Suppose that, after weighing carefully all of the relevant factors, a decade from now you come upon a situation in which you believe that some yet-unknown entity head would indeed best contribute to the mission of the SBC by serving as president. Such a thing is possible, isn't it, regardless of whether you see such a case in place right now?

The question is, if you were to come to such a position at some point in the future, ought we to deprive you and all other Southern Baptists of the liberty of acting upon that conclusion?

All that is required to oppose the Wilkerson Motion is to admit that there ever has been or ever might be again in the future good cause to elect any entity head to serve as SBC president.

Scott Gordon said...

Gary,

In Wade's eyes it is what he says it is...and don't question him!
;-)

SOLA GRATIA!

Anonymous said...

Bart,

two thoughts:

1) I'm not sure if we do weigh "all of the relevant factors" when we select a president...as seen most notably this year. Just after the nomination speech of Dr. Hunt (which I found a little light on qualifications and heavy on "We know him!"), the person beside me leaned over and said, "Well, Johnny Hunt just ciinched the elections." When we seem to vote on name recognition and CP percentage, I'm not sure if we ARE even thinking about "all of the relevant factors"!

2) If someone had all the qualifications that we would want in a new SBC pres., I doubt that he would be unknown to the general public...is that not how we elect them in the first place and they even get the attention of someone to nominate them?

Andrew H.

Bart Barber said...

Andrew,

And yet, Johnny Hunt is not an entity head, so it appears that the barring of entity heads would not qualify as a solution to this problem—viz., Southern Baptists are no more or less competent to decide whether an entity head would make a good President than they are in making the same decision regarding non-entity heads.

We could do two things:

1. We could be prepared, election by election, to consider the pros and cons of electing any particular entity head who might run for SBC president, and allow the messengers the liberty to act according to what they deem wise.

2. We could amend the constitution and remove from the messengers the liberty to vote their conscience in such a case.

To take the second approach would require us to move beyond thinking that it MIGHT be a bad idea to elect an entity head to preside over the SBC, and even beyond thinking that it would USUALLY be a bad idea to elect an entity head to preside over the SBC. To justify such an extreme measure as a constitutional amendment, we would have to be prepared to conclude that it NEVER COULD be a good idea to elect an entity head to this office.

That's why our past history is relevant—it demonstrates not only that it COULD be a good idea, but that, every time we have elected an entity head as SBC president, it NEVER HAS been a BAD idea. That's a pretty good argument against the Wilkerson amendment, I think.

Anonymous said...

Bart,

I still must disagree with you....though I see your point!

First, I still feel that Johnny Hunt and all of his predecessors (with maybe the exclusion of Frank Page) gained their support from being recurring figures on the Pastor's Conference or SBC stage...not necessarily a bad thing, but one liable to promote the small cabal/back-room politics and political engineering that many complain about.

Second, let me be clear: I am not advocating the removal of the vote from the messengers (where did you get that idea?), but promoting their education...perhaps I should start my own movement/blog campaign and publish a list of preferred/recommended candidates like everyone else!

Andrew H.

Bart Barber said...

Andrew,

I'm not trying to disagree with you; I'm disagreeing with Jack Wilkerson, with whom you said you agree. His motion would amend the constitution so as to make it BEYOND THE POWER OF THE MESSENGERS to be able to vote for an entity head to serve as SBC president.