Sixteen months after Jerry Rankin, president of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, asked the agency's more than 5,400 appointees to sign an amended faith statement, about 99 percent have complied.

For the few who have chosen not to sign the Baptist Faith and Message, revised in 2000, big changes are afoot (CT, April 22, 2002, p. 20). Rick and Nancy Dill will soon return to their six-room row house in Germany to resume duties at Weimar Baptist Church. The Dills were the first Southern Baptist missionaries to be stationed in East Germany after reunification. They started the Baptist church in 1992 with 11 people. Rick's pastoral duties include evangelism, leadership training, and preaching. Nancy plans to resume English as a Second Language classes, a free outreach effort that attracts many non-Christians.

The Alabama natives have taken on the task of raising financial support to help replace money they have been receiving from the International Mission Board. They expect the IMB to release them in May because they have declined to conduct their ministry in accord with the latest version of the Baptist Faith and Message (BFM).

First adopted in 1925, the faith statement has become more conservative through three revisions since 1963. The BFM of 1998 included a section saying that wives should "graciously submit" to their husbands. In 2000 the statement added the wording that "the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture" and that the statement was an "instrument of doctrinal accountability."

Avery Willis, senior vice president for IMB overseas operations, recently began contacting those who have not declared their intentions. Missionaries who, like the Dills, decline to work in accord with the ...

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