Leaders of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) are creating a new global organization for missionaries who want to leave the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The move follows the conservative IMB's January decision to ask missionaries to sign the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message (CT, April 22, p. 20). The national convention's statement of faith includes 1998 language that wives should "graciously submit" to their husbands. It added in 2000 that the office of pastor is reserved for men. IMB officials say that missionaries can sign while noting disagreements.
"Many people feel called to missions but can't serve with the IMB because they won't sign," said Clyde Glazener, chairman of the BGCT's Missions Review and Initiatives Committee.
In 2000 the BGCT redirected funds, previously sent to the national convention's six seminaries, strictly to Texas schools. In addition, the BGCT recently created a fund to help missionaries who resign or are dismissed over the statement.
Several Texas Baptists have already pledged $300,000 to jump-start the agency. The BGCT missions committee offered a proposal for the organization, which it calls a network, at the Texas convention's executive board meeting in Dallas on September 24. The executive board approved it. The BGCT is expected to approve the new organization at its annual meeting this month in Waco.
BGCT officials say they are not trying to get churches to replace existing church relationships with denominational mission boards. Instead the new network will supplement them with "fluid and flexible structures" that respond more quickly to church and missionary needs. BGCT President Charles Wade says that the new network will offer missionary services similar to those of the IMB.
IMB president Jerry Rankin told Christianity Today, "It grieves us that the state convention is duplicating services that the IMB is already providing."
The BGCT's newly approved $50 million 2003 budget allocates only 21 percent ($10.5 million) to the national convention's Cooperative Program. Last year it was 33 percent ($16.5 million). The fund, which received $182.3 million from churches, individuals, and state conventions for the 2001-02 fiscal year, funds a variety of national and international ministries.
Rankin said the decrease would not harm the IMB. He said increasing numbers of churches are giving directly to the IMB.
Copyright © 2002 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
Previous Christianity Today coverage includes:
To Sign or Not to Sign?Some Southern Baptist missionaries balk at revised statement. (April 5, 2002)
The Southern Baptist Convention's site has links to every board, organization, and ministry in the convention.
The official site of the Baptist General Convention of Texas has more information on its work and ministry.
Previous Christianity Today coverage of the Baptist Faith and Message includes:
Do Good Fences Make Good Baptists?The SBC's new Faith and Message brings needed clarity—but maybe at the cost of honest diversity. (August 9, 2000)
Culture ClashAsserting the Bible's authority, Southern Baptists say pastors must be male. (June 30, 2000)
Weblog: Baptists OK New Statement, which Opposes Female Pastors (June 15, 2000)
Submission RejectedState convention counters SBC marriage statement. (Dec. 27, 1999)
Texas Baptists Counter Official Southern Baptist Stance on MarriageBaptist General Conference of Texas goes back to 1963 statement, rejecting 1998 vote. (Nov. 11, 1999)
Seminary Faculty must sign pledgeProfessors must agree to teach Baptist Faith and Message statement. (Dec. 7, 1998)
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