SPRINGFIELD – Confusion over membership requirements led messengers to the Missouri Baptist Convention annual meeting to table eliminating Cooperative Program language from credentials committee rules.
At the Oct. 25-27 meeting in Springfield, the credentials committee recommended allowing a congregation to be considered a participating MBC church if it contributes to the convention's work. It had required contributions to come through the Cooperative Program, the Southern Baptist Convention's organized funding program.
As its name implies, the credentials committee handles any questions regarding church cooperation with the MBC and messenger credentials.
In June, the SBC adopted the Great Commission Resurgence task force recommendation that allows for "Great Commission giving" to count as giving to SBC causes. In the past, only undesignated funds were considered Cooperative Program giving, and each congregation had to give through CP to be considered an SBC church.
Now, churches can give directly to SBC-affiliated entities and still maintain their status with the convention.
In its original recommendation, the MBC credentials committee simply struck the words "through the Cooperative Program" from the church requirement. Before messengers voted on the issue, the committee changed the recommendation's wording, allowing credentialing of churches that contribute to the "ministries and/or agencies of the Missouri Baptist Convention directly or through the Cooperative Program."
MBC Executive Director David Tolliver explained that since currently only undesignated monies count as CP contributions, a congregation that designates all gifts to the MBC could not be considered an MBC church because it also must be an SBC church.
A Missouri congregation must contribute financially to SBC causes to be considered an SBC church. Most do that through gifts to the Cooperative Program, which are split between SBC and MBC causes -37 percent to the SBC and 63 percent to MBC ministries.
Doug Austin sought to add the words "Great Commission giving" to the committee's proposal, but later withdrew it because the meaning seemed unclear.
Robin Dale questioned whether the committee's recommendation would interfere with the MBC's single-alignment membership requirement, which requires MBC churches to be aligned only with the SBC.
Vic Borden of Kansas City made the motion to table because of the confusion over membership requirements for messengers and member churches.