Baptists in the District of Columbia may lose $475,000 in annual support if they are unable to iron out their differences with a top Southern Baptist Convention agency.

The SBC's North American Mission Board (NAMB) seeks increased oversight of the agency's $475,000 allocation, a substantial portion of the District of Columbia Baptist Convention's $1.5 million budget. The DCBC's executive committee will discuss the matter in March.

If the committee rejects the new oversight plan, the dcbc's net loss may be less than $200,000. The 140 Baptist churches in the DCBC give the SBC about $280,000 in mission offerings, which the DCBC might decide to retain.

The $475,000 from NAMB is designated for evangelism. It also pays a portion of the salaries of five inner-city missionaries and two support workers. Among conditions for continuing the partnership, the Southern Baptist agency wants direct oversight of the district convention's work that it funds and support for the conservative theological positions of the SBC.

The plan has stirred strong reactions from local pastors, such as Wallace Smith of Shiloh Baptist in Alexandria, Virginia, the first African American church to join the district convention in 1968. "Freedom is what Baptists are all about," Smith says. "We decided centuries ago we wouldn't live under bishops and hierarchy. If they want to withdraw their money, let them."

DCBC is the only Baptist convention aligned with the Southern Baptist, American, and Progressive National Baptist conventions. The 125-year-old convention is unusual among state-level SBC affiliates.

With 57 percent African American and ethnic minorities, its membership is more diverse than that of the SBC. In 2000, 85 percent of Southern Baptist churches were ...

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