MBC president names credentials committee - Word&Way

MBC president names credentials committee

Jefferson City — Missouri Baptist Convention president Ralph Sawyer named five people to the credentials committee at the Dec. 12-13 Executive Board meeting at the Baptist Building in Jefferson City.

Rick Seaton, pastor of First Baptist Church, Kahoka, was chosen as chairman. Wesley Hammond, pastor of First Baptist Church, Paris; Bruce McCoy, pastor of Canaan Baptist Church, St. Louis; James McCullen, pastor of Liberty Baptist Church, Belgrade; and Eleanore Warner, a layperson from Eolia Baptist Church, will serve with Seaton.

Hammond, McCullen and Warner are current Executive Board members.

Messengers to the MBC's annual meeting in October amended the constitution to turn what was a temporary committee into a standing one.

In the past, the MBC president named a credentials committee at least 30 days prior to the convening of the annual meeting. The committee would deal with any challenge made to a church's messengers prior to or during the annual session.

The change allows credentials committee members to take up questions about a church's status or challenges to a church's messengers at any time throughout the year.

The committee will operate under guidelines that spell out the rules a congregation must follow to be considered a cooperating MBC church.

The change came on the heels of messengers' adoption of tighter affiliation requirements. A church will be considered a cooperating MBC church if it contributes to the MBC "at least on an annual basis" and does not belong to or financially support another state convention or organization that "serves and/or acts as a state convention" in Missouri.

Churches that want to be affiliated with the MBC may not send representatives to another body's meetings, financially support another body's work or include another organization in its budget.

MBC churches also must be cooperating Southern Baptist churches that do not participate or contribute to another national convention. MBC-affiliated churches would be able to relate to racial, ethnic, cultural and community organizations and conventions within "accepted Southern Baptist faith, polity and practice."

The tightened affiliation requirements are seen by some as an attempt to disfellowship churches that also support the Baptist General Convention of Missouri or the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship at its state and national levels.

Under the guidelines adopted at the annual session, the credentials committee can investigate the qualifications of churches and of individual messengers if either is challenged. The committee also can investigate "upon receipt or discovery of any information which causes the committee to believe" a church or individual does not qualify.

In other action, MBC controller Jay Hughes estimated the convention would end 2005 with receipts between $16.4 million and $16.5 million. Although the bottom line falls under the $16.7 million budget, the MBC expects to be able to place about $350,000 in reserves because staffers have reduced costs for the year.

Executive Board members passed with opposition a New Work Fund loan to The Journey, a new church plant in St. Louis. Churches that receive the loan are expected to give 10 percent of undesignated receipts to the Cooperative Program, the Southern Baptist Convention funding plan.

Board members agreed to allow The Journey to reach that giving level in increments — beginning with 3 percent in 2006, 4 percent in 2007, 8 percent in 2008 — until it reaches the full 10 percent by 2009.

The board also approved a new staff structure that elevates the Cooperative Program specialist's pay rate to that of an associate executive director. The MBC newsjournal, The Pathway, reported the pay increase, but did not clarify whether current CP specialist David Tolliver had been promoted.

The MBC currently operates with two associate executive directors — Roy Spannagel over the church outreach team and Jim Austin over the church services team.

The Executive Board voted to prohibit full-time convention staff from accepting adjunct or part-time teaching assignments at any college, university or seminary.

Members accepted Southwest Baptist University's invitation to host their July meeting at SBU's Bolivar campus.

The Executive Board also voted to contribute $63,000 to the SBC's Adopt-an-Annuitant program this year.

During his report to the full board on Dec. 13, SBU president Pat Taylor noted that an issue regarding the teaching of evolution at the Baptist institution has been resolved. At its October meeting, the board directed its Inter-Agency Relations Committee and Taylor to investigate alleged teaching of evolutionary theory.

The Bolivar Herald-Free Press noted that Carl Huser, an SBU biology professor for about 40 years, will officially retire at the end of the academic year. Other sources have indicated the professor has been prohibited from teaching certain classes in the spring.

(Based on reporting by The Pathway. Word&Way continues to be excluded from Executive Board meetings.) (01-13-06)