Over-representation on SBC boards addressed

Baptist Press
Posted: Jun 11, 2013 7:22 PM
HOUSTON (BP) -- During the Executive Committee report June 11, messengers adopted a recommendation to designate the District of Columbia, Maryland and Delaware as a "defined territory" to determine eligibility for representation on SBC committees and entity boards.

The recommendation stems from expressed concerns that representatives on SBC entities and committees from the District of Columbia are being drawn from too few churches.

A disproportionately high number of trustees and committee members from those few D.C. churches, some have said, creates "an impression that runs counter to the goal of broadening inclusion and board and committee involvement as widely as possible among Southern Baptists," according to background material given to Executive Committee members.

According to the recommendation, the change will not affect the present term of office to which any person has been elected or appointed prior to or in the convention's annual meeting in Houston. Also, the convention approved the amendment of the charter of any entity necessitated by the change.

In a related action, messengers approved an amendment of SBC Bylaw 19, causing that sentence to read in part: "A Committee on Committees, composed of two (2) members from each qualified state or defined territory, shall be appointed by the president...."

According to SBC Bylaw 30, the number of cooperating Baptists in a defined territory must meet certain thresholds before Baptists in that territory qualify for representation on SBC boards and committees. By combining the District of Columbia with Maryland and Delaware as a "defined territory," the number of churches from which qualified SBC committee and board members can be selected becomes a larger set, helping meet the goal of broader inclusion.

The SBC will continue to relate directly to the District of Columbia Baptist Convention as a cooperating state convention, as it does other state and regional conventions in areas of the country that do not qualify for representation on SBC boards and committees.

GuideStone Financial Resources

Messengers adopted amendments to the ministry statement of GuideStone Financial Resources, allowing the entity to offer its investment and insurance products and services to like-minded individuals. GuideStone will create two new affiliate companies that will be controlled by and will answer to GuideStone's trustees, much as its current affiliates do.

The Dallas-based board, which provides retirement, insurance, property and casualty and investment opportunities to Southern Baptist churches, affiliated ministries and their employees, has served approved like-minded evangelical churches and organizations for nearly a decade. GuideStone also sponsors Mission:Dignity, a ministry that provides financial assistance for retired Southern Baptist ministers and their widows who need financial assistance in their declining years.

Under the approved expansion of its ministry assignment, GuideStone will begin making its mutual funds, which garnered key finance industry awards last year, available to Southern Baptist church members and other eligible evangelical Christians sometime in 2014. GuideStone also is studying potential insurance products and services it could make available.

After the Executive Committee meeting in February, GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins emphasized the motivation behind the request for a change in ministry assignment, stating that GuideStone is committed "to further enhance the financial security of the SBC pastor at the crossroads by producing additional economies of scale and helping to undergird the coming needs of our Mission:Dignity program fueled by a massive baby boomer generation who is retiring within the next 15 years....

"We are only requesting the opportunity to serve a larger audience because we firmly believe it will enhance our ability to serve our Southern Baptist pastors in a more cost-effective manner for the long-term," Hawkins said.

Resolution of appreciation

Messengers approved a resolution of appreciation for Richard Land, who has retired as president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission after 25 years of service.

As he presented a framed resolution to Land and his wife Rebekah, Frank Page, the Executive Committee's president, said, "Even though our nation is in trouble, I shudder to think where we would be without the ministry of Dr. Richard Land and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission."

The resolution says Land and the ERLC staff "participated in thousands of meetings with congressmen, senators, congressional staff, and White House personnel throughout his tenure, advocating on behalf of Southern Baptists from a biblical perspective."

Also during Land's tenure, the ERLC filed 62 amicus briefs with the Supreme Court and lower courts "championing religious freedom, basic human rights for all people, sanctity of human life from conception to natural death, the role and sanctity of biblical marriage, and addressing other issues such as education, fiscal policy, gambling, health care, homosexuality, and obscenity from a biblical perspective."

The resolution also states that Land "worked tirelessly to effect racial reconciliation" in the Southern Baptist Convention and in American life, including as a principal architect of the SBC's 1995 resolution on racial reconciliation.

Among his other accomplishments, the resolution states, Land "helped Southern Baptists take positive, proactive steps to minister to those ensnared in the homosexual lifestyle or by drug abuse."

Other business

Also in the business portions of the Executive Committee report, messengers:

-- adopted a 2013-14 Cooperative Program allocation budget that directs $140 million to ministries through the convention's two missions entities, $41.4 million to theological education through six seminaries and $3.1 million to concerns about ethics and religious liberty.

-- adopted a 2013-14 SBC operating budget that anticipates $7.2 million in income, with $5.7 million through the Cooperative Program. A total of $2.4 million is budgeted for SBC administration expenses and $4.8 million is allocated toward operating expenses for the Executive Committee.

-- approved a request from the North American Mission Board that the maximum amount of the entity's contingency reserve fund be changed to an amount equal to six months of its operating budget.

-- adopted the 2017-18 SBC calendar of activities.

Erin Roach is assistant editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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