It is 1:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning, so this post cannot be too detailed. However, I think it is important that I give some perspective on yesterday's events (Tuesday) at the Southern Baptist Convention, in Greensboro, North Carolina.
The Convention convened at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning. The messenger registration would eventually reach over 11,000, less than what I had expected, but more than the previous few years.
The first motion presented on the floor of the convention was my motion at 8:45 a.m. requesting the appointment of an Ad Hoc Committee from the Executive Committee to investigate five concerns I have had regarding the International Mission Board.
During the morning session every motion, including mine, is simply introduced. There is no debate and no statement made other than reading the motion itself. I wanted to summarize my motion and not read it because of the length of it, but the microphone page told me I had to read the entire motion into the record. I later discovered that the volunteer microphone page was not right, but I followed her initial instructions and read the rather long motion into the record. Again, nobody could speak for or against the motion at this morning session as it was simply introduced to the convention, and a later time would be set for the purpose of voting on it.
I remind everyone that I had not intended to do anything at the Convention related to the IMB, including presenting a motion, until the Chairman of the IMB, at our May meeting in Albuquerque, publicly accused me of breaching confidentiality on my blog multiple times. This very public allegation, revealed in the presence of everyone, including my wife, was made without ever coming to me privately. When I asked to see the basis or substantiation from my blog for the charges, the microphone was turned off by the Chairman. To me that was an unconscionable series of actions that formed the last straw that led me to decide to make this particular motion at the convention.
You can read about my decision to make this motion, which I originally drafted two weeks ago, at this post entitled The Decision: A Motion in Greensboro. The motion I read into the record yesterday morning only changed from the original motion of June 1st in that I decided not to invoke Bylaw 26 and force the convention to vote on the motion while in session, but I would rather accept the decision of the Committee on Order of Business regarding how my motion would be handled.
The Committee on Order of Business' Decision
About 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon I received a call from the Chairman of the Commitee on Order of Business. His name is Alan Blume and he is a wonderful man. He asked that I meet with him and a member of the Committee at the platform.
Alan was very honest with me, but very fair. He said the Committee was going to refer the motion back to the IMB trustees, since he felt the trustees needed to be given an opportunity to deal with the recommendation themselves. He said, however, there would be two stipulations.
(1). The convention would be asked to debate and vote on referring this motion back to the IMB at 7:40 that night, so that if it passed, it would be said to the IMB that this is the Convention's action, not just Wade Burleson's.
(2). The IMB trustees investigative committee would be required to make a report back to the convention in 2007, issuing findings and recommendations on all five points.
I thanked Alan for the Committee's work, and told him I agreed this investigation should, ideally, be done by the IMB Board. However, I told him I had asked twice, in writing, to address the Board during the last year and was denied. In addition, I said the only reason we were at this point with the Convention having to deal with this matter is because the Chairman of the IMB and I could not agree who of the IMB trustees could serve on the investigative committee.
I gave the Chairman my suggestions regarding the makeup of the committee and they were rejected by him. Likewise, he gave his suggestions regarding the make-up of the Committee to me and they were rejected by me. Obviously, from my perspective on what is healthy for the IMB and the SBC, I did not want anyone who may have been part of the problem on the Board being placed on the committee assigned the responsibility of investigating those alleged problems.
In addition, I asked Alan if I could address the convention first when it came time for the debate to refer the motion back to the IMB. Alan agreed.
The Stunning Presidential Election
By now you know Frank Page won. I will not give you the numbers because several have already blogged about them, but I will tell you three anecdotes about the election.
First, after we cast our ballots but before the results were announced, I saw Dr. Page in the hall. I greeted him saying, "Hello Mr. President." He smiled and reminded me that I was the first one to call him several weeks earlier when he and I talked on the phone about him running for President of the SBC. We had a good conversation and I reminded Dr. Page of his pledge not to exclude from service godly, conservative Southern Baptists who affirm the Baptist Faith and Message, but yet differ in areas of doctrinal interpretions not addressed by the BF&M.
Frank graciously reiterated that pledge and then said he was looking to open up the appointments to people throughout the SBC that had a sweet spirit, a commitment to inerrancy, and a willingness to serve. He said he would not recycle appointments.
When Frank's election was announced I was walking around the arena and just happened to be stopped by a reporter in the undergound hallway. He wanted my reaction. Soon other reporters stopped and by the time all was said and done probably over 25 media persons from around the nation stood four deep and asked questions for forty minutes. One of the questions that kept being repeated over and over again is whether or not I believed blogs played a role in this election. I said, "Absolutely." Baptist bloggers in 2006 may well go down in history as the first time bloggers actually determined the outcome of a national religious/political election.
Why? When all three candidates were being nominated my wife leaned over to me and said, "I feel like I know all three men because of the blogs."
I attended the Press Conference for Frank Page and I am here to tell you he handled himself with class, dignity and grace. Southern Baptists have a right to be proud of this man.
It is brand new day in the SBC.
To say some were shocked by the outcome of the election is the understatement of the year.
My wife and I broke bread with some wonderful people today at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Too many to name, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to say if you shared a meal with us today you personally added to the pleasure of our day.
The Disposition of My Motion
At 7:40 p.m. I was allowed to address the recommendation of the Committee on Order of Business to refer my motion back to the IMB.
I tried to express clearly and graciously the issues involved. I told the Committee I respected their decision and wished to affirm it, while at the same time raising a couple of concerns. I first reiterated my love for the SBC, my fellow trustees and the work of our IMB missionaries. Then I said the only reason we were at this point in requesting an Ad Hoc Committee be appointed by the Executive Committee is because the Chairman of the IMB and I were at a stalemate as to who would serve on the committee from among the trustees of the IMB.
I tried to be kind, gentle and gracious, but at the same time, I let the convention know that I could not support a committee merely appointed by the Chairman of the IMB. However, I did not want to broad brush ALL the trustees. There are many good, godly men and women who I would be happy to see chosen to serve on the investigative trustee committee. The question remained: Who's doing the appointing?
I had several people tell me after the very brief debate that they appreciated my graciousness to the Convention. Several also said they were confused about what they were voting on. The issues were complex. One friend told me that I singlehandedly held the Convention back from acting against the wishes of the Committee on Order of Business by not opposing their decision. Maybe, maybe not. Regardless, I had already made the decision to trust in the Committee's determination, and that is what I did.
So . . .
In essence there will be a Committee of IMB trustees formed to investigate the five concerns of my motion and bring back a report and/or recommendaiton to the SBC in San Antonio in 2007.
I honestly believe the trustees and I can work this out. There are new officers. There will be new trustees meeting with us beginning with us in July. The IMB is doing a great work!! I would love nothing more than for the report to come back to the Convention in 2007 and it would contain concrete action steps to deal with the problems articulated.
I've got seven years left on the IMB. I can work with anyone. We will get this situation resolved, and the earlier the better!
An Unbelievable Time
After the last business of the evening a very large, informal group of bloggers, young leaders and messengers from my church met in our suite at the Sheraton. Frank Page came and we gathered around him and laid our hands on him and prayed. Wiley Drake, the Second Vice-President came by with his wife and his wife's mother and we prayed for him as well. Other SBC individuals came by the room and we prayed for them as well including missionary Wyman Dobbs, Bill Dodson, and Morris Chapman.
We committed not to blog about what was said because we wanted everyone to be able to speak in freedom, but frankly, if the details were to be shared it would sound like an old fashioned revival meeting with all the Scripture, spiritual exhortations and focus on Jesus Christ and the gospel.
Morris Chapman delivered a remarkable challenge to the bloggers in the room. He was passionate, wise and deliberate. I can honestly say that Dr. Chapman has displayed incredible leadership at the SBC these last several years. I have had occasion to speak with him and convention attorney's at various meetings I have had these last six months, and not one time has Morris Chapman ever endorsed a particular candidate for SBC office. He is a man that not only tells the truth, he lives it.
These young leaders made it very clear to these men they prayed over that they were seeking NOTHING for themselves. No positions. No appointments. No power. They just wanted to pray for those who would be doing the leading, and commit to support tehir leadership. What a sweet prayer time it was.
I was happy that our messengers from Emmanuel Baptist Church, Enid, Oklahoma were able to attend the fellowship including Dr. John Stam, Sherman and Carolyn Hamm, John and Mona Loewen, and Ben Carr. Dan and Donna were not able to make it. Four of the eight messengers from our church were attending their first ever convention.
Mona Loewen took pictures of the fellowship and prayer times and hopefully in the near future I will post a few.
Oh well, the hour is late, and I must arize early to be at the convention by 8:30 in order to deal with the resolutions and one very interesting motion that is being made on my behalf regarding my status as an IMB trustee. I blog about it later tonight!
I am very positive about our future. Change does not happen in the SBC by leaps and bounds, but when the dialogue and discussion at the SBC is more on doctrine, the CP and bloggers, then one knows full well the conversation in the SBC is changing.
However, for an interesting exercise, go back and read what I wrote on January 14, 2006, exactly six months ago today Particularly focus on Point (5). unti the end of the post.
I'm not a prophet or the son of a prophet, but my predictions at the end of that January 14, 2006 post have seen an eerily precise fulfillment in a scant six months.
To me, that is unbelievable.
Yes, even historic.
In His Grace,