Motions: GCR task force endorsed

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)--Messengers offered 31 motions but approved only one during the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting June 23-24 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville.

On a show of ballots, messengers overwhelmingly approved a motion by R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, to authorize SBC President Johnny Hunt to appoint a Great Commission Task Force. (See accompanying BP story.)

The Committee on Order of Business, which scheduled Mohler's motion for a vote Tuesday evening, declined the other proposals for a variety of reasons, referring several to one or more SBC entities for a report to the 2010 annual meeting in Orlando. Five motions directly or indirectly related to the controversial Mark Driscoll, senior pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Wash., and founder of the Acts 29 church planting network.

Two motions were referred to all SBC entities:

-- that "all SBC entities should monitor" funds spent in "activities related to or cooperative efforts with Mark Driscoll and/or the Acts 29 organization" and entity heads should submit a report of expenditures to appear in the 2010 Book of Reports, submitted by Kent Cochran, a messenger from Calvary Baptist Church in Republic, Mo.

-- that SBC entities avoid "inviting event speakers" who "are known for publicly exhibiting unregenerate behavior ... such as cursing and sexual vulgarity, immorality, or who publicly state their support for the consumption or production of alcohol," submitted by Ida South, a messenger from First Baptist Church in Mathiston, Miss.

Motions referred to the SBC Executive Committee included:

-- that the EC form a study group and report back to the convention in Orlando about "how ethnic churches and ethnic church leaders can be more actively involved in serving the needs of the SBC through cooperative partnership on the national level," submitted by Paul Kim, senior pastor, Berkland Baptist Church, Cambridge/Watertown, Mass.

-- that the SBC Organizational Manual be amended to require entities to submit for approval by each year's convention messengers any entity actions "to interpret the Baptist Faith and Message," submitted by Andrew Higginbotham, a messenger from South Kansas City Baptist Church, Kansas City, Mo.

-- that the "seminary allocation formula be amended" to include increased consideration of "extension sites" as seminaries "become less centralized ... and progressively more regional," also submitted by Higginbotham.

-- that "the present state of Cooperative Program giving" be examined and a report made to the SBC on the "possibility of allowing portions of CP dollars from each church to be designated to particular Convention causes," submitted by Dennis Conner, lead pastor of Crosspointe, The Church at Tartesso, in Buckeye, Ariz.

-- that the SBC adopt the "United States Christian Flag ... as our banner flag of encouragement," submitted by Harold Michael Phillips, senior pastor, Pleasant View Baptist Church in Port Deposit, Md.

-- that SBC Bylaw Article VI be amended to change requirements and term limits for trustees of boards, institutions and commissions, submitted by Barrett Lampp, associate pastor of pastoral care and assimilation, Thomasville Road Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Fla.

-- that the formula for distribution of Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund offerings be changed to give 66.67 percent to the International Mission Board and 33.33 percent to the North American Mission Board submitted by Steven S. Nelson, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn.

Nelson noted that the current division funds -- 80 percent for IMB and 20 percent for NAMB -- was set in 1981 before a 1997 reorganization assigned NAMB with missions responsibility for Canada and U.S. territories.

"For many years, the hunger funds available for NAMB initiatives have been depleted while a substantial balance has been maintained at IMB," according to the written motion submitted by Nelson, a former staff member of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

One other motion referred to the Executive Committee called for annual SBC meetings to be opened with the posting of the American flag and an honor guard consisting of representatives from each of the five branches of U.S. armed services.

The motion's author -- Beauford Smith, pastor of Colfax Baptist Church in Colfax, N.C. -- made a similar motion in a previous SBC annual meeting, said Ken Render, chairman of the Committee on the Order of Businees, who is also senior pastor of Lakeside Community Church in St. Clair Shores, Minn.

Render told messengers an honor guard had been scheduled for the opening of this year's meeting but had to miss the SBC meeting in order to present colors at a military funeral.

At Hunt's request, messengers were led in prayer by Bobby Welch, global evangelical relations strategist for the Executive Committee and a decorated combat veteran, who asked God to bless and protect those serving in the U.S. military and for the family of the deceased.

Three motions were referred to ERLC:

-- that Southern Baptists call "on the Pepsi-Cola Company to remain neutral in the cultural war by refraining from promoting the gay/lesbian lifestyle and agenda" through its advertising and that a boycott be undertaken if the company fails to "halt its current direction," submitted by Joe P. Samples, pastor, Salem Baptist Church, Sneads Ferry, N.C.

-- that the SBC designate a "Sanctity of Life" year in the near future," submitted by Joseph N. Giles Jr., a messenger from James Square Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, Va.

-- that the SBC start a petition to "end abortion in America and the funding of Planned Parenthood along with all other abortion-providing" entities, submitted by Gerald Stutzman, a messenger from Fellowship Baptist Church in Hardinsburg, Ind.

Three motions were referred to LifeWay Christian Resources:

-- that LifeWay Christian Resources "research the various and more affordable educational alternatives to traditional Christian schools ... in order to assist SBC churches ... in the expansion of K-12 Christian education," submitted by Roger Moran, a messenger from First Baptist Church, Troy, Mo.

-- that LifeWay develop and use "American-made" resources in Vacation Bible School materials each year, submitted by Patrick Fuller, senior pastor of Southside Baptist Church in Greensboro, N.C.

-- that the SBC president "appoint or work through the appropriate entity" to highlight the 400th anniversary in 2011 of the King James Version of the Bible, submitted by Rick Reeder, a messenger from Southside Baptist Church in Princeton, Ky.

One motion was referred to all seminaries:

-- that seminaries collect data "to be published annually in the seminary's report to the convention for the purpose of tracking the regional and international diversity of the seminary," submitted by Andrew Higginbotham of Kansas City, Mo.

On the recommendation of the Committee on Order of Business, Hunt ruled several motions "not in order."

The committee chairman's, Render, said three resolutions were not in order because of reflecting harshly on particular individuals.

-- that the Holman Christian Standard Bible "and any translation that questions the validity of any Scripture" be banned from convention literature and from the annual SBC meeting, submitted by Eric K. Williams, pastor, Long Prairie Missionary Baptist Church, Belle Rive, Ill.

-- that author Mark Driscoll's books be removed from LifeWay Christian Bookstores because of his "reputation for abusive and ungodly language and ... promotions of sex toys on his church web site," submitted by Jim Wilson, pastor, First Baptist Church in Seneca, Mo.

"We need to live holy lives and bringing this man to our college campuses and promoting his books in the bookstore ... I believe is a violation of Scripture."

-- that a "special committee be formed" to address claims by "some Bible teachers that the world will come to an end on May 21, 2011," submitted by Ben Brazal, pastor, King of Kings Christian Fellowship in Middletown, N.Y.

Render recommended that Hunt rule not in order five motions that resembled resolutions:

-- that SBC messengers be "requested to pray for the safety and welfare of Iranian citizens," submitted by Moses Riner, a messenger from Christ is King Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky.

Though the motion was not presented for a vote, Hunt did lead messengers in a prayer asking God to protect Iranian citizens and to bring about freedom for citizens in the Persian Gulf nation.

-- that messengers encourage all SBC entities "to refrain from inviting event speakers" who engage in "cursing and sexual vulgarity, or who publicly state their support for the consumption or production of alcohol," submitted by Larry Reagan, pastor, Adams Chapel Baptist Church in Dresden, Tenn.

-- that messengers "send a strong message of disapproval" to President Barack Obama "for his presidential proclamation ... that proclaims June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Month," submitted by John Rushing, pastor of Northside Baptist Church in Columbia, Tenn.

-- that implores President Obama to "seek biblical direction" with respect to Israel, submitted by Virgil Ridings, academy principal at Millville Baptist Church in Frankfort, Ky.

-- that Southern Baptist "institutions, agencies and churches" be willing to "support and partner with other Christian agencies and individuals … for the sake of the Great Commission," Greg Taylor, lead pastor, Bethlehem Baptist Church in Mt. Eden, Ky.

On Render's and the committee's recommendation, Hunt ruled two motions not in order because they would have asked the convention to act like trustees:

-- that LifeWay Christian Stores should remove books "that are contrary to the Gospel" or the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, including books by T.D. Jakes and John Hagee, any Catholic Bibles "90 Minutes in Heaven" and "The Shack," submitted by Channing Kilgore, associate pastor, South Whitwell Baptist Church, Whitwell, Tenn.

-- that SBC entities avoid "the use of secular music in their promotional materials," submitted by Jeff Moats, pastor, Logan Elm Baptist Church in Circleville, Ohio.

A motion by James T. Egan, pastor of First Baptist Church in Post, Texas, was referred to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and LifeWay Christian Resources because it asked trustees of those entities to look into matters regarding several of its employees.

Egan's motion asked for an investigation of Danny Akin, Alvin Reid and Ed Stetzer "in light of" allegations against them that were made in a publication by the Missouri Baptist Layman's Association distributed during the SBC meeting.

Anthony Craig Thomas, pastor of First Baptist Church in Whitwell, Tenn., presented a motion that the "SBC clarify its language in regards to the use of alcohol to biblically distinguish between the consumption of alcohol ... and the act of being drunk."

Render told messengers that Thomas's motion was not in order because it attempts to amend a previous Convention resolution.

A motion by Brian LeStourgeon, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Camp Verde, Ariz., sought to have Mark Driscoll "address the concerns of his accusers" at the 2010 annual meeting.

Render said the committee declined LeStourgeon's motion since it could have put the Convention in the role of exercising church discipline.

What initially was introduced as a motion, was later determined by the Committee on the Order of Business to be a point of order.

-- William Blosch, a messenger from First Baptist Church in Thomasville, Ga. requested that pictures of all individuals running for an SBC office be made available to messengers during the annual meeting.

In this year's meeting, Render told Blosch, who presented a similar motion at last year's annual meeting, that the possibilities for such a distribution of photos was still being investigated.


Keith Hinson is a state missionary and an associate in communications services for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.