I want to thank people from around the world who have posted or written words of encouragement. If you are a first time visitor to this site, please know that I read every comment. I have picked up a great deal of wisdom from my fellow Southern Baptists.
I am going to sit back and take a deep breath and not blog until at least next week. However, my wife, Rachelle, told me this morning that I should send this post to give you some information and let you know how we are doing. I am setting aside several days for prayer and reflection, and will pick up blogging again next week, Lord willing.
Obviously, because I am being publicly accused of slander, gossip, (those two words are in the official record but have been removed from the press release) lack of accountability, and a loss of trust, I will have to address my church Sunday morning. Several people have asked me how this would affect my ministry at Emmanuel. It is revealing for me just to say that my wife and I had not even thought about it until others asked. Our church is wonderful, and they know me. Frankly, our delightful missions pastor Dr. John Stam (yes, the ancestor and namesake of THE John Stam of China beheaded by the communists for his refusal to renounce Christ), told me the buses are being chartered from Enid to Greenboro!
Just a few words of wisdom to all my friends around the world:
(1). Be gracious in your emails and letters and phone calls. I can guarantee you that every person on the Board of Trustees who voted to recommend that that I be removed from the board did so because they actually believed I was disruptive to the mission of the organization. They might be guilty of shortsightedness, a lack of wisdom, or may simply be clueless, but don't even imply they don't LOVE the IMB --- they do.
(2). I stand ready to do whatever is necessary to resolve this matter. I will only repent when I am told what it is I have done wrong --- specifically, and only if I am convinced in my own heart that something I have done is wrong.
I realize more than anyone that I can be guilty of poor judgment, but it requires people in leadership who are not wanting to protect their positions of authority to point this out to me. There are those people within our convention --- and I will listen. But I can't repent just because people are hurt. Repentance is based on violations of Biblical, moral, or ethical principles. Let's sit down and discuss what those violations are.
And just remember. The dialogue will go both ways.
(3). Most trustees are fifty or older. Some are in their seventies. I am not sure how many have ever read my blog, but some think a blog is like "computer pornography" (an actual quote). I really think if the trustees took time to hear my motives, communicate with me, and recognize that even though I am "new," effectual work could be accomplished.
But I am the type of person that will never back down from what I believe to be violations of principle. My fellow trustee Rick Thompson told me on the drive back to the hotel after the Executive Session in which I was removed, that if the trustee leadership would have listened to your concerns from the beginning, rather than trying to silence you, we would not be in this position.
(4). If I was asked once, I was asked fifteen times to resign AFTER the vote for the recommendation to remove me. The carrot that was offered was that there would be no press release that would be damaging to me or the IMB. Some of the appeals were very, very passionate. All of them were phrased in such a way as to save everyone embarrassment. What nobody, but those who know me in Oklahoma, seems to understand is that this is NOT about me. It is about the future direction of the IMB and our convention.
The official statement released by the trustees used the word "impasse" between Wade Burleson and the Board. From my pespective there is not an impasse, and never has been one. When actions that were taken either violated, or went beyond the principles we as Southern Baptists have historically stood upon, the forum for dissent moved to the convention at large. The convention now has the opportunity to speak.
(5). There is so much more I could say, but I am choosing not to say it. To defend oneself from gossip or slander (actually they probably meant "libel"), one must know the specific charges upon which the accusations are based. I have received nothing. For the specific statements that are allegedly libelous to be shown to me means that I will have to reveal names, events, and actions I have witnessed first hand in my defense. I'm not sure anyone wants that. I have intentionally written about "principles" and not "people," in an attempt to effect change without harming reputations or people. I want to us to take the high road in resolving this issue.
Again, this is NOT about people. It is a matter of principle. I really do love every trustee I have met --- even those who have disagreed vehemently with my positions or methods. Most trustees probably don't even understand the dynamics of all I am saying, but I promise it strikes a chord in thousands within our convention. I am not sure trustee leadership actually desires to press those two allegations of gossip and slander, thus the removal of those two words from the public press release, but they remain in the official record. At some point, that public allegation against me will need to be addressed.
I would prefer to fix the problem in private as a Board member, and not in public. I reiterate, I stand ready to dialogue. But as is evident, I believe I am accountable to the SBC as a whole, and I am fully prepared to address any and all issues at Greensboro.
Let's get to the point where we are focusing SOLELY on missions and support of our missionaries on the field. I promise you, that is all I seek.
Finally, above all else, let's remember to support our giving to the Cooperative Program, Lottie Moon, our churches and other missionary causes. The Southern Baptist Convention is so large that from time to time, there will arise issues like this.
Don't pull out. Don't leave. Don't quit giving. I won't and my church won't. The mission is too important.
I am still a trustee of the International Mission Board. I have chosen not to attend Executive Sessions (confidential sessions) because of the accusations against me, and though I am responsible for business matters as a trustee, my real enjoyment is meeting our missionaries and encouraging our staff and getting to know other trustees better. I'll be at every Board meeting till the convention in Greensboro votes to either remove me or informs the Board that I must stay.
In His Grace,