GCR Task Force process discussed

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Regular processes of the Southern Baptist Convention will be followed if the convention's messengers approve the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force's recommendations, according to responses to a question during the Executive Committee's Feb. 22-23 meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

Participants were Roger Spradlin, a California pastor who is both a GCR Task Force member and the Executive Committee's vice chairman; Morris H. Chapman, president of the Executive Committee; and D. August Boto, EC executive vice president and general counsel.

The exchange occurred in the context of a discussion of how the Executive Committee would implement a portion of the task force's vision calling for a transfer of 1 percent of Cooperative Program Allocation Budget from the Executive Committee to the International Mission Board.

The reallocation would involve approximately $2 million. Currently, the Executive Committee receives 3.4 percent of CP funds for its work in behalf of the SBC. Under companion GCRTF proposals, the EC allocation would be reduced to 2.4 percent and its work in promoting the Cooperative Program and biblical stewardship would be terminated. As envisioned by the task force, such promotion would be handled exclusively by the state Baptist conventions.

"We have to keep in mind," Spradlin said during the Feb. 23 exchange, "that this task force really belongs to the SBC and answers directly to the convention....

"If [the messengers] vote their approval of this particular component of the report, then that would become a mandate, essentially, for us because all of us at the Executive Committee serve at the pleasure of the SBC. That's who elects us to this committee."

Spradlin said he acknowledges "the tremendous difficulty that this group is going to face in being able to make those deep of cuts, if that is the will of the messengers."

Boto, in response, referenced the word "mandate" in noting that the GCR Task Force is a special committee of the convention, appointed for a specific time and purpose, whereas the Executive Committee is one of the convention's ongoing standing committees.

In accord with SBC Bylaw 18, Boto said, "If the Great Commission Task Force lifts up a vision that the convention well receives, then it would be your [EC] responsibility to advise the convention on that recommendation, so the convention would have the benefit of not only the task force -- the special committee's view -- but also the viewpoint of its standing committee fiduciary.

"Then the convention can make an informed choice about what to do with regard to that budget," Boto said of a decision that likely would be on the agenda of the 2011 SBC annual meeting if the GCR proposals are approved at the 2010 SBC annual meeting, June 15-16 in Orlando, Fla.

Boto noted that the task force has been informed about the process for such matters "and they graciously received it."

Chapman, in amplifying Boto's statements, said, "Nothing a special committee does preempts what the Southern Baptist Convention has assigned in bylaws to the Executive Committee." Messengers at the annual meeting may adopt the GCR vision, but that does not preempt the Executive Committee from fulfilling its normal duties of “studying, evaluating, deciding and recommending how to respond to those recommendations, because, by bylaw, the Southern Baptist Convention has assigned us the responsibility ... of coming to them with recommendations," Chapman said.

Spradlin, answering a question about the GCR Task Force's plan for presenting its recommendations to the annual meeting in Orlando, briefly said earlier in the exchange, "We're still seeking counsel regarding that, of whether the report should all hang together or whether it should be divided. We're seeking input from attorneys and parliamentarians on how that process should unfold."

If the Executive Committee's promotion of the Cooperative Program and biblical stewardship is ended as the task force suggests, the staffing and program cuts would entail $1.3 million to $1.4 million of the $2 million reduction called for in the GCR proposal. The remaining $600,000 to $700,000 would then be cut from other facets of the Executive Committee's work, which includes arrangements for the SBC's annual meetings; the Executive Committee's Empowering Kingdom Growth initiative in local churches and Global Evangelical Relations initiative with evangelicals globally; and the EC’s major publications.


Art Toalston is editor of Baptist Press.

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