KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Blue River-Kansas City Baptist Association has told two churches that failure to give means the two congregations can no longer partner with it.
The BR-KC executive board voted at a special called business meeting during its regular quarterly meeting April 24 to disassociate with Holmeswood Baptist Church in Kansas City and Cornerstone Baptist Church in Lee’s Summit.
BR-KC had made changes to its constitution and bylaws to require participating congregations to contribute financially to the association’s work to remain as a partner. Neither church currently includes the association in its budget. More than 30 additional congregations also have not given.
The perception some of the association’s congregations got was that the action targeted the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, noted Gary Snowden, associate pastor at First Baptist Church in Lee’s Summit and a participant in the April meeting.
The association’s credentials committee, currently chaired by Jeff Paul, pastor of Country Meadows Baptist Church in Kansas City, disavowed the CBF connection as the reason, Snowden said.
He added that BR-KC Executive Director of Missions Rodney Hammer tried to clarify that the decision was not made just over the financial issue. At least with Holmeswood, the credentials committee took into consideration that the congregation did not want to be involved with the association, Hammer told the board.
Apparently, the DOM and credentials committee members misunderstood the congregation’s intent. “The decision is not anything we’re uptight about, but it is not something we wanted to see happen. It was a unilateral decision,” Holmeswood Senior Pastor Keith Herron said.
Hammer explained in a May 5 email to Word&Way the process the credentials committee followed once the policy changes had been made. The churches decided themselves to ignore those changes, he said.
“We are trying to create an ‘all in’ culture of mutual participation and meaningful partnership toward a common vision,” he wrote.
Both Holmeswood and Cornerstone had indicated that they would not participate in associational programs or contribute financially, Hammer said.
“Their communication that they have not and don’t intend to is the critical difference” between the two churches and others that have not contributed. “These two churches opted out long ago and have not participated in any form of partnership in the last few years. They de facto left the Association. The association’s recent action simply codified a reality that already existed at their choosing,” Hammer wrote.
Although church leaders were invited to do so, they chose not to meet with the credentials committee in March.
Correspondence between Herron and the committee over the membership issue began last May. The committee, then chaired by Ernie Cecil, pointed to the association’s ministries and programs and noted Holmeswood had not contributed in 2013.
In his response, Herron reminded association leaders that Holmeswood had withdrawn from affiliation with both the Missouri Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention in 2001, but that it declared it would continue to partner with the association.
Herron added that changes in associational leadership seemed to make clear that the church was no longer welcome. “It is for this reason we have ceased our financial contributions. We have chosen to not give where we are not welcomed,” he wrote.
At the meeting, a pastor suggested the action be tabled for six months. Cornerstone is lead by an interim pastor. Tabling the move would have given the church some time to call a minister. However, no one offered the motion, Snowden said.