HLG asks MBC to reconsider gift to MBTS - Word&Way

HLG asks MBC to reconsider gift to MBTS

By Vicki Brown, Word&Way Associate Editor

Hannibal — Hannibal-LaGrange College administrators are concerned about the Missouri Baptist Convention's plans to continue supporting Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's undergraduate program.

At their May 6 meeting, HLG trustees agreed, passing a motion to "graciously request" that the MBC Executive Board reconsider a decision for additional funding to MBTS.

In April, HLG president Woodrow Burt wrote a letter to MBC Executive Board members and convention officers to share concern over the convention's decision to take $200,000 from reserve funds for MBTS. Convention leaders also plan to include the seminary in the board's 2007 budget, a move that messengers to the 2006 annual meeting would have to approve.

Emphasizing that HLG administrators have "nothing whatsoever against Midwestern," Burt said the letter simply expressed concern "for the trend."

Calling the letter "well-timed" and "well-written," college trustees said they had received some calls from Executive Board members. Most calls were positive.

However, MBC first vice president Mike Green, also an HLG trustee, said some had criticized the college for pointing out that the institution had not broken ties with the convention as other entities had done.

In 2000, The Baptist Home changed its charter to allow it to elect its own trustees. Missouri Baptist University, Word&Way, the Missouri Baptist Foundation and Windermere Baptist Conference Center took the same action in 2001.

The reference to loyalty gave the impression that HLG should "get rewarded for doing what we should do anyway," Green said.

The intent was "you have been taking us for granted," Burt responded.

Some trustees were concerned about the use of MBC reserve funds. "I sat through the process when assets were given away…and we ended up as broke," said trustee Daniel Hale, who has served on the Executive Board.

He was grateful that HLG benefited when the convention redirected escrowed funds the MBC had budgeted for the five entities in 2002. "We got a one-time shot…but now we're seeing money taken from reserves."

Green noted lack of funding continues to be a problem. "Cooperative Program giving is flat…. That's really the issue," he said. (05-18-06)