SBC sets May 5 deadline on faith statement holdouts
The Southern Baptist Convention has set a May 5 deadline for overseas missionaries to sign the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message. In letters to 31 missionaries, Southern Baptist International Mission Board President Jerry Rankin said the statement must be affirmed by that date or "I will be recommending that the board take action to terminate your service in their May meeting."

The Associated Baptist Press reports this is the first time that IMB has threatened termination in connection with not signing the faith statement. Since Rankin asked for the statement to be affirmed more than a year ago, over 99 percent of SBC missionaries have done so. Only 73 out of 5,500 overseas workers have not. Forty-two have either resigned or are expected to by August. Rankin sent the recent letter as a final appeal to the remaining 31 who haven't signed.

Twenty-five of Rankin's April 11 letters ask for missionaries to either sign the statement or resign instead of facing termination. Six letters, however, give only the option to resign or be fired. According to Rankin, the six "have clearly and publicly stated positions contrary to the [faith statement] that are beyond acceptable parameters."

Some missionaries who have not signed the faith statement cite disagreement with its calls for male-only ordination and for wives to submit to their husbands.

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