c. 2000 Religion News Service
The Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee has adopted a resolution urging delegates to the upcoming Baptist General Convention of Texas meeting to reject a plan that would sharply reduce funding of SBC entities.
The committee, which met Sept. 18-19 in Nashville, Tenn., was reacting to the latest showdown between conservative and moderate members of the nation's largest Protestant denomination. Texas moderates, who control the 2.7-million-member state convention, have political and theological differences with national leaders who gained control of the denomination following the conservative resurgence which began in 1979.
Committees of the Texas convention--by far the largest state body of Southern Baptists--have suggested the state convention should reduce its funding of the six SBC seminaries from $5.3 million to a maximum of $1 million next year. In addition, the Texas committees have recommended funding for the SBC Executive Committee be reduced from $706,000 to $10,000 and that the $345,000 funding it had previously allocated for the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission be eliminated.
"The proposal by the BGCT represents a unilateral breach of its 75-year partnership agreement as the Southern Baptist Convention's trusted collection agent," the SBC Executive Committee resolution reads.
"Such a proposal effectively destroys the Cooperative Program process between the BGCT and the Southern Baptist Convention and sets a dangerous precedent in our larger Southern Baptist work."
The resolution asks those attending the annual meeting, scheduled for Oct. 30-31 in Corpus Christi, Texas, to reject the proposals and continue traditional modes of contributions to the Cooperative Program, through which Southern Baptist entities traditionally receive their funding.
The state convention's executive committee will consider the proposals on Sept. 26.
In a report on Monday, SBC Executive Committee President Morris Chapman condemned the possible slashing of millions that Texas Baptists have traditionally given to the national denomination.
"The BGCT is systematically attempting to influence Southern Baptist churches in Texas to forsake their loyalty to the SBC," he said.
Chapman also voiced confidence in the future financial health of the denomination.
"There is no reason to despair over dollars," he said. "God is on his throne and he will pour out his blessing upon his people if they remain faithful."