A trustee of the Southern Baptist Convention International Mission Board has started a Web log to counter criticism that the board acted improperly in calling for removal of a fellow trustee.
Jerry Corbaley, an IMB trustee from <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />McKinleyville, Calif., launched his blog with an entry on Feb. 28 defending “patient, considerate and cooperative decision-making” by the board and criticizing “accelerating rumors” between board meetings, largely through blogs.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
Corbaley was the trustee who made a motion at the Jan. 10 IMB meeting to enter into executive session. Inside the executive session, reported one of the leading bloggers following the saga, Corbaley made a motion requesting the Southern Baptist Convention remove Oklahoma trustee Wade Burleson from the board as soon as possible and that trustees “reprimand him for gossip and slander that hurts the work of the board.”
In a Thursday blog, Corbaley said that report, apparently leaked from trustee minutes that were not supposed to become public until the next trustee meeting March 20-21, are symptomatic of “gossip” and factionalism building around the board of trustees.
Burleson, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid, Okla., began a blog last December. On Dec. 8 he introduced a topic of new polices regarding qualifications of SBC missionaries.
“As a new trustee of the IMB I voiced my opposition to the proposed policies over and over again, Burleson wrote. “In the end, I, and other like-minded trustees could not persuade enough trustees to vote against the proposed policy changes.
“Here is where it gets interesting. Several bloggers from across the convention have written to me asking ‘What happened?’ Since every Southern Baptist is privileged to hold the trustees of our agencies accountable, and since I have publicly stated my objections to the IMB Board on numerous occasions, I am free to tell exactly what happened.”
On Saturday, Dec. 10, Burleson published a longer blog titled “Crusading Conservatives vs. Cooperating Conservatives: The War for the Future of the Southern Baptist Convention.” He later rewrote the blog under a softer title, “Political Conservatives vs. Cooperating Conservatives: The Struggle for the Future of the Southern Baptist Convention,” and revised wording that in hindsight he felt was too militant.
Burleson said SBC conservatives who were united in the struggle against “liberalism” 20 years ago were now becoming divided over efforts by some Southern Baptist leaders to continue to tighten doctrinal requirements, illustrated by the new IMB policies banning “private prayer language” and requiring a specific form of baptism.
Burleson said he opposed the new policies, and went on to decry political activity at IMB meetings, including allegations of trustee caucusing to advance certain agenda in violation of agency policy.
Asked about caucusing in a comment section of his blog, Corbaley wrote, “I have not observed, nor participated in any such illegal caucus.”
The IMB trustee executive committee decided Feb. 10 to ask the full board of trustees to consider reversing the motion recommending that Burleson be removed, saying officers “determined he have the ability to seek management of these issues through internal processes that were not known during our January meeting.”
It still isn’t clear the issue is being resolved, however. Blogger Marty Duren on Thursday detailed a chronology of “talk, correction, misstatement and explanation” of the conflagration.
Another blogger applauded Duren’s timeline as a “chronology of absurdity” and observed that, “These folks have taken the art of ‘flip-flop’ to a whole new level.”
Another IMB trustee, Rick Thompson, pastor of Council Road Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, has also blogged in support of Burleson.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.