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BWA, Education Resolution Expected Issues at State Conventions

Two actions from last summer’s Southern Baptist Convention—a vote to leave the Baptist World Alliance and rejection of a resolution calling for a mass exodus from public schools—are expected to resurface in state convention meetings this fall.

The Baptist General Association of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Virginia, meeting Nov. 9-10 in Roanoke, will consider joining the Baptist World Alliance and increase funding from a current level of about $90,000 to $150,000 by boosting the BWA allocation in one of three giving plans from 6 percent to 10 percent.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
 
The Baptist General Convention of Texas executive board in March adopted a resolution pledging to support the BWA through “prayer, fellowship and financial contribution.” The BGCT is expected to increase its current $20,000 in annual funding to the BWA next year, in part by reallocating some of the funds in a missionary transition fund—established to aid SBC missionaries who refused to sign the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message”—to the BWA. The convention meets Nov. 8-9 in San Antonio.
 
The Kentucky Baptist Convention, at a Nov. 16-17 meeting in Louisville, is expected to establish a study committee to explore ways the state convention might relate to the BWA in the future. A 12-member committee appointed by the convention president would report findings and recommendations next year.
 
The SBC, a founding member of the 99-year-old BWA, pulled out of the global fellowship body in June over allegations of liberalism, taking with it $300,000 in annual BWA support. The BWA responded by appealing directly to churches for funds, a move criticized by SBC leaders.
 
The Missouri Baptist Convention met Oct. 25-27 in Kansas City. Among action was a resolution urging Christians to “give serious consideration” to secular influences on holy living, including “the inherent dangers of secular educational philosophies” permeating America’s public schools.
 
The resolution was inspired by a failed Southern Baptist Convention resolution in June calling on Southern Baptist parents to remove their children from public schools and either home-school or put them in Christian schools. But it stopped short of declaring government-run schools as “godless” and anti-Christian,” language that critics of the SBC resolution said was too inflammatory.
 
The anti-public school resolution didn’t fare as well in another conservative stronghold, the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. Messengers in Plano adopted a resolution committing to teaching children, “whether in public schools, private schools, home schools or through our church’s educational program.” The convention rejected an amendment to strike the word “public” and replace it with the word “Christian,” a vote that some found surprising.
 
Breaking with the more-liberal BGCT, the SBT convention has “sought to be the alternative voice of conservative Baptists,” an anti-school Web site, GetTheKidsOut.org, observed. “Or have they?”
 
Supporters of the call for an exodus from public schools said Christian education resolutions would be submitted in at least 10 state conventions. It is unclear how many will report out any such resolution and bring it to the floor.
 
Other news from the Missouri Baptist Convention included the first of two annual votes to require that churches align singly with the state convention and the SBC, meaning that congregations which support the breakaway Baptist General Association of Missouri or the moderate Cooperative Baptist Fellowship would be ousted under the new rule.
 
The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina is expecting a motion from the floor to do away with optional giving plans that allow churches to support the CBF through the state convention’s cooperative giving plan. The proposal, by anti-alcohol advocate Ted Stone, would return North Carolina Baptists to the traditional single-giving Cooperative Program plan, dividing mission funds 65 percent for the state convention and 35 percent for the SBC.
 
Earlier Bruce Martin, pastor of Village Baptist Church in Fayetteville, proposed moving to a simpler plan with only on giving track. His request prompted a series of information meetings around the state.
 
The North Carolina convention’s general board discussed the Cooperative Program Missions Giving plan at length Sept. 28-29 before approving a budget affirming the current four giving plans.
 
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.