Messengers suspend cooperation with 19 churches - Word&Way

Messengers suspend cooperation with 19 churches

Cape Girardeau — With barely a whimper, 19 Missouri Baptist churches were disenfranchised Oct. 31. No one objected as messengers to the Missouri Baptist Convention annual meeting suspended cooperation with the affiliated congregations by an overwhelming majority.

According to a report presented by chairman Rick Seaton, the MBC's credentials committee determined that each church no longer meets the qualifications to be a cooperating MBC church.

The vote by messengers to the 172nd session on Oct. 31 in Cape Girardeau, affected Chandler Baptist, Liberty; Cornerstone Baptist, Columbia; Cornerstone, Lee's Summit; Grace Point Baptist (formerly Swope Park Baptist), Kansas City; Heartland Baptist Fellowship, Marshfield; Little Bonne Femme Baptist, Columbia; Olive Branch Baptist, Sedalia; Rock Falls Baptist, near Orrick; Third Baptist, St. Louis; University Heights Baptist, Springfield; Winnwood Baptist, Kansas City; and First Baptist churches of Cape Girardeau, Hamilton, Independence, Jefferson City, Lee's Summit, Savannah, Smithville and Sweet Springs.

The committee recommended that messengers representing those 19 churches not be seated at this year's convention or in subsequent annual meetings.

Each church's messengers will be excluded until “their congregation takes the appropriate and necessary action to demonstrate a desire 'to cooperate with the Missouri Baptist Convention in her program of single alignment with the Southern Baptist Convention,'” the recommendation states.

Only Third Baptist, St. Louis sent a messenger to the session. Pastor Warren Hoffman noted that Third Baptist loves the Lord and would continue to minister in St. Louis. “We have a passion for Christ, a passion for the church”¦. We love you”¦and will pray for you and hope that you will pray for us,” he told messengers.

He turned in his credentials as required after the vote.

“We will work toward unity,” Hoffman said in a brief interview after the vote. “We want to try and be a part of God's one church”¦to be an answer to God's call to unity”¦. We want to be peacemakers,” he said.

The pastor emphasized that the church chose peacemaking rather than to fight the convention's move to disassociate with congregations that work with or partner with Baptist bodies that “act as a convention.” Messengers to the 2005 annual meeting adopted constitutional and bylaws changes that force churches to choose between the MBC and other groups — particularly the Baptist General Convention of Missouri and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

Third Baptist's members have decided to concentrate on partnering with others, although Hoffman said the MBC's action has been difficult for some members. “We have several people who still have a passion for the SBC [Southern Baptist Convention.],” he said.

But the church has recognized that “there are lots of partners”¦and we are discovering more all the time.” (10-31-06)