The ministry agreement proposal is patterned after one the SBTC holds with the Korean Baptist Fellowship. Both groups will remain independent bodies but will cooperate on several levels of mission, marking a historic move after Baptist Missionary Association churches formed from among numerous Southern Baptist congregations in the late 19th century.
At last year's BMAT annual session, a task force was named to continue dialogue with the SBTC on shared ministry. Two BMAT institutions, the two-year Jacksonville College and the Texas Baptist Home, based in Waxahachie, are ministry affiliates of the SBTC and receive budgeted funding.
Over the summer, the BMAT task force and SBTC representatives developed the proposed agreement, specifying that it is "one of cooperation with neither party having control over the other's ministry activities. This does not create a partnership as that term is used in the Texas Business Organizations Code. Nor is either party the legal agent of the other.
"The purpose of this agreement is to establish guidelines and parameters for a working ministry relationship between the BMAT and SBTC."
In it, both parties would:
-- continue to affirm "a high view of Scripture and basic Baptist distinctives"
-- engage in joint ministry opportunities
-- freely share information about each respective group with interested churches
-- cooperate between the two groups' flagship publications, the Baptist Progress and the Southern Baptist TEXAN
-- Reciprocally link the SBTC and BMAT websites
-- Have reciprocal exhibits at each group's annual meetings
Additionally, BMAT would provide the SBTC Facilitating Ministries Committee an annual report of BMAT ministry activities, and in turn the SBTC would provide the BMAT Administrative Committee with its annual Book of Reports.
The proposed agreement notes that a "high view of Scripture would include but not be limited to the position that the Bible is factual in character and historicity in such matters as: 1) the supernatural character of the biblical miracles which occurred as factual events in time and space, 2) the historical accuracy of biblical narratives which occurred precisely as the text of Scripture indicates, and 3) the actual authorship of biblical writings as attributed by Scripture itself."
The agreement would be for the 2011 calendar year.
Jacksonville pastor Vernon Lee, who served as president of the BMA of Texas when the motion was approved for dialogue with the SBTC, said, "Our friends in the SBTC have been gracious, cooperative and generous during this process. I am very pleased with the progress we have made concerning an official working relationship with the SBTC, which will enable us to expand our efforts to work together here in Texas.... We do not yet know the full impact of the potential benefits of this agreement, but I am excitedly optimistic and confident that the manifold benefits will be eternally beneficial."
In addition to the Korean Baptist Fellowship, the SBTC has related ministry agreements with Houston Baptist University and Baptist Credit Union. It has the more closely defined affiliated ministry agreements with Criswell College in Dallas, East Texas Baptist Family Ministry and the BMA's Jacksonville College and Texas Baptist Home.
Initially published by the Southern Baptist TEXAN, with reporting by the Baptist Progress, newspaper of the Baptist Missionary Association of Texas.
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