Tammi Leadbetter has written an article for Baptist Press about the IMB Board Meeting. She quotes Tom Hatley encouraging Wade Burleson, "to change his position to follow a biblical model of restoration of wounded brothers and sisters in Christ.”
I have a question. Who is wounded?
Is it Dr. Rankin, who said to Dr. John Floyd, the new Chairman of the Board and the former Chairman of the Personnel Committee, that the new policies on tongues and baptism put Dr. Rankin in an embarrassing position, only to have Dr. Floyd respond, "Dr. Rankin, you have been an embarrassment to the Southern Baptist Convention from the day you were hired" --- ? Are you referring to Dr. Rankin as wounded?
Is it Wendy Norvelle, acting interim VP of the IMB who had a group of trustees, including Bob Pearle of Texas and Albert Martin of Texas and at least five others, discuss a motion to terminate her in an informal caucus in a hotel lobby, a clear violation of Board policy prohibiting caucusing outside of regular Board meetings for the purpose of planning and conducting Board business without benefit of the entire Board-- ? Are you referring to Wendy Norvelle as wounded?
Is it Mrs. Jerry Rankin who has had to endure endless slanderous comments about her husband regarding the mishandling of IMB finances? One such statement was made by trustee Winston Curtis via phone in the spring of 2005 to Wade Burleson, just prior to the Nominating Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention making its initial contact with Wade requesting him to serve as a trustee of the IMB. Mr. Curtis told Mr. Burleson that Dr. Rankin had "buried money all over Monument Avenue." When Wade Burleson responded, "You mean Dr. Rankin has taken money from the IMB and buried it at his house?" the response was, "No, Monument Avenue is what we trustees call IMB headquarters." Then, Wade Burleson was asked if he knew Judge Pressler, to which Wade replied yes. "Call Judge Pressler then, he knows where all the money is buried?" Subsequently Trustee Burleson learned that a group of trustees had accused Dr. Rankin behind closed doors of spending funds without Board approval only to find Dr. Rankin cleared of all charges by an outside audit--- yet Dr. Rankin must apologize for "lack of communication" before the entire Board.-- Are you referring to Mrs. Jerry Rankin as one who is wounded because of the unsubantiated charges against her husband?
Is it the attorney from Texas who recently served on the Nominating Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention and wishes at this time to remain unnamed? He faced extraordinary pressure, intimidation and coercion from certain leaders in the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Texas because he was not placing the "right" people on the various boards and agencies of the Southern Baptist Convention. The tactics involved kept him up at night, cost him hundreds of dollars in his own personal funds, and soured him on the "politics" of the SBC. Are you referring to this attorney as one who is wounded?
Is it Trustee Rick Thompson or Trustee Wade Burleson from Oklahoma of whom it was said, in that same caucus meeting in the lobby of the IMB hotel where a motion was discussed to terminate Wendy Norvelle, "We've got to stop putting weirdos from Oklahoma on the Board" -- ? When trustee Winston Curtis, the one given the responsibility to vet Wade Burleson and insure his appointment to the International Mission Board, heard the weirdo comment, he said, "Yeah, now I know what Ronald Reagan felt like when he appointed Sandra Day O'Conner" -- ? Are you referring to Rick Thompson and Wade Burleson as those who are wounded?
Is it the Missionary Learning Center staff and employees who were rebuked for their poor training skills three years ago in a white paper written by Dr. Keith Eidel, Professor of Missions at Southeastern, containing a cover letter by Dr. Paige Patterson, and sent to every trustee of the IMB; a paper very critical of the staff and administration of the IMB? Are you referring to the staff and administration of the IMB and MLC as those who are wounded?
Is it the former Vice President in charge of training at the MLC who received bodily harm threats via telephone if he did not refuse to stop teaching the heresy he was propogating at the MLC, threats that eventually contributed to his resigning and taking a position out of state? Are you referring to this Vice-President as one who is wounded?
Is it the young pastor and friend who grew in their disillusionment of the SBC because of the power politics being played as they listened to trustee Bob Pearle, pastor of Birchman Avenue Baptist Church and pastor to Dr. Paige Patterson, explain in a coffee shop in January 2006 how the IMB trustees were just a few votes short from forcing out Dr. Rankin? Are you referring to this pastor and his friend as the ones who are wounded?
Is it the young man who was sought out by Dr. Patterson's staff to cull Dr. Rankin's teachings on tape in order to find "fireable charismatic heresy," only to come to an awakening of conscience to realize that this sort of covert subversion of an agency head in the SBC must stop? Are you referring to this young man and Dr. Rankin as the ones wounded?
Is it the wide eyed young youth pastor who witnessed a knife displayed in an intimidating manner at trustee Wade Burleson as he confronted a small group of trustees conducting business in a caucus outside of the regular business session of the IMB in January of 2006 and then wondered, 'Is this what denominational life is all about?' The trustee who pulled the knife later apologized but are you referring to this youth pastor as the one who is wounded?
Is it the teachers at the Missionary Learning Center who became aware that students at Southeastern being trained for the mission field at the MLC were told Southeastern Seminary staff to email Dr. Keith Eidel, Professor of Missions, if they heard questionable teaching, but were encouraged not to confront the leaders of the MLC, which is an instruction contrary to the clear teaching of Jesus Christ in Matthew 18? Are you referring to those teachers at the MLC as those who are wounded?
Is it the family, friends and members of trustee Wade Burleson who have had to endure blistering attacks on Wade's character and integrity because he refused to back down from those few trustees who have intentionally and flagrantly sought to undermine the work of Dr. Jerry Rankin and his staff, but instead has patiently and graciously challenged them to abide by all Board approved policies? Are you referring to Mr. Burleson's family and friends as those who are wounded?
Is it the Southern Baptists who have been denied service as missionaries because, though their local church has received their baptism by immersion after having come to faith in Christ, the IMB rejected them because the baptism did not meet the criteria of being performed in a Southern Baptist Church or one that teaches in eternal security? How do you heal the hurt of a couple being sent to the IMB by their local church, who says their baptism is SCRIPTURAL, only to be rejected by the Personnel Committee of the IMB who has added requirements to baptism not found within the Baptist Faith and Message 2000? Are these missionary candidates the ones who are wounded?
Is it the International Mission Board candidate consultants, who were placed in the very awkward position of having it said of them, "the Candidate Consultants are the reason for the new policies because they were asking for 'clarification' of the old policies on tongues and baptism."
When trustee Wade Burleson asked the Candidate Consultants if they were for the new policies, Chairman of the Personnel Committee, John Floyd, ordered that the Consultants not respond to the question. In reality, the Candidate Consultants were upset because missionary candidates they had cleared for service were being rejected by trustees leading subgroups of the Personnel Commiteee, even though these missionary candidates met all the requirements for appointments according to IMB policy. The Candidate Consultants were asking trustee leadership, "Could you clarify for us why you are REJECTING those candidates we bring to you for approval?" The result was a change of policy initiated by certain trustees, and later approved by the majority of trustees, to exclude certain missionary candidates because of their baptism and private prayer language, a new policy that was NOT requested by administration or staff. Are you referring to the Candidate Consultants as those who are wounded?
Are you referring to IMB administration and staff who have faithfully addressed any charismatic problems on the field, but have had it publicly said by certain trustees in the March 2006 Board plenary session that there were problems on the field NOT addressed by staff? Are you referring to IMB staff as those who are wounded?
Finally, Dr. Hatley, are you referring to me, Wade Burleson? How many times can I be PUBLICLY charged with "gossip" or "slander" or "loss of trust" or "resistance to accountability" or "multiple breaches of confidentiality" in violation of Matthew 18 and the trustee accountability guidelines. Even if these charges are true, and I adamantly deny that they are, you and other trustees are responsible to approach me privately before you publicly make such charges. Are you referring to me as the one who is wounded?
God help us.
I both agree and disagree with you Dr. Hatley. I agree that as a trustee I must "follow a biblical model of restoration of wounded brothers and sisters in Christ.”
I am doing that. I am confronting those who are doing the wounding.
I disagree with you in that if you think that those who are hurt by, or offended with, trustee Wade Burleson are those who are the "wounded," then you are either part of the problem or a hindrance to the solution. Either way, we all are in a much in a better position now to deal with the issues than we were a year ago.
In His Grace,