Word&Way News Writer
Raytown -- Messengers to the 170th Missouri Baptist Convention annual meeting approved only one of four motions presented to them.
Meeting at First Baptist Church, Raytown, messengers gave the nod to a motion by Jay Scribner of First Baptist Church, Branson, to set aside $100,000 from any overage in 2005 Cooperative Program receipts to the MBC's missions endowment. Scribner noted supporting the endowment is important to continuing church planting efforts across the state.
Messengers turned down another motion by Scribner to set aside $100,000 from reserves to help fund the missions/evangelism endowment at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Scribner asked messengers to consider the seminary's value to the state, adding that it would become "more valuable" as its undergraduate program is developed.
An amendment by Clyde Elder to split the $100,000 among MBTS, Hannibal-LaGrange College and Southwest Baptist University passed 619-365 on a ballot vote. An attempt to add the Missouri Baptist Children's Home failed. The amended version of the motion failed by a ballot vote of 464 to 486.
Messengers defeated a motion by Ron Mackey of Windsor Baptist Church, Imperial, that called for an end to legal action against Missouri Baptist University, the Missouri Baptist Foundation, Windermere Baptist Conference Center, The Baptist Home and Word&Way.
The five MBC-related entities changed their charters in 2000 and 2001 to allow each to elect its own trustees, rather than allowing the convention to continue to elect them. The MBC filed legal action against the five in 2002 and filed a new lawsuit on Oct. 25.
Speaking to his motion, Mackey said he was not calling for a declaration of victory or defeat. Instead, he said, God calls believers to be different. "It's time to prove [to the world] that we know how to live," Mackey said.
Curtis, who serves as legal task force vice chairman, responded that the task force has instructed MBC attorneys to "do whatever is necessary to end it" and that it has "urged" attorneys for the other side to do so, as well. "We have been Christ-like," he said.
Ron Marsh, messenger from First Baptist Church, Otterville, said he believes "we are completely defeated already." Noting that he believes the convention has been "wronged and cheated" by the five entities, he said, "We are wrong to continue to take this before worldly courts."
He asked messengers to support the motion. "What we have built before, we can build again," he said.
Messengers also turned down a motion by Rick Smith of First Baptist Church, Mexico, that would have required the convention to pay legal fees incurred by actions to restore the five entities out of the Agency Restoration Fund. The motion stipulated that no Cooperative Program funds be used.
Smith said some church members believe giving money to support legal action against the five institutions is "immoral." He said that each time they give an offering at church, "they are contributing to something they believe is immoral.... How can we ask them to sin?"
Paul Callahan of First Baptist Church, Marshall, responded that people do not have to support the Cooperative Program.
John Justice of Grant Avenue Baptist Church, Springfield, reminded messengers that the ARF fund is in place. "Those who want to support [the legal action] should give to the Agency Restoration Fund," he said.
The committee on order of business referred a motion by Kevin Smith of Springhill Baptist Church, Springfield, to the Executive Board. Smith's motion requested that William Jewell College be removed from the MBC business and financial plan and that steps be taken to remove the entity from other MBC governing documents.
Messengers to the 2003 annual session voted to defund Jewell for the remainder of 2003 and to remove the college from the 2004 budget.
A motion by John Tygart of Calvary Baptist Church, Sedalia, to include both stanzas whenever "The Star Spangled Banner" is sung at annual meetings was ruled out of order. MBC 2004 president David Tolliver noted that one convention cannot set policy for the next convention.
(See the Nov. 4, 2004 edition of Word&Way for additional annual meeting coverage.)