"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Commendation for the 2007 Nominating Committee

Today I have been on the road to Memphis, Tennessee and the post I had up this morning was accidentally deleted by a friend who was moderating the comments and discussion. The post and all comments are gone. I saved the original post in as a Word document and am reposting it with simply a new title and a couple of changes. It seems that the Chairman of the Nominating Committee worked diligently with his committee last week to insure that fresh faces were appointed to the respective committees of the Southern Baptist Convention, and I commend Pastor Tommy for his due diligence. The trustee system is how our agencies are governed, and there seem to be some very positive steps being taken to insure trustee indendepence.

My previous post entitled Are We A Denomination Or Are We A Convention contained some excellent comments, three worth pointing out here.

Tim Guthrie stated:

If the SBC were a denomination, then the denomination would run the entities. If the SBC were a Convention, the entities would be governed by the Trustee system as elected by the Convention when it is in session. We as Southern Baptist are a Convention not a Denomination.

Volfann agreed with Tim and wrote:

I agree with Tim Guthrie. What we all need to understand, and I include myself, is that the seminaries and the IMB and NAMB and all the other entities cannot be what we all want them to be. There's just no way that can happen. The leaders and the trustees have to manage them the way they feel led by the Lord, and they are probably gonna do things that a few, or some, or even many, don't think that they ought to do. Some will feel that they can do it better. And, if there are enough of us who believe that the trustees are not doing their job, that things are not being done right, then we can take care of that at the Southern Baptist Convention every year, just like the conservative resurgence did.

Professor X responded to both Tim and Volfann with the following insight:

However, our convention can only function at maximum effieciency if a truly representative Board of Trustees is in place at each entity of our convention. For example, if trustees are all purposefully nominated because they hold a particular scriptural interpretation on certain 'hot topics' then the trustee board does not fully reflect the broad views of the convention. If any board of the convention is manipulated by an outside group, or singular person, in order to reflect one aspect of the broader opinion in the convention as a whole then it does not properly reflect the members of the SBC.

The Nominating Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention met this past week in Nashville, Tennessee. For those uninitiated with the nominating process it might be helpful to read this explanation of how it works. In summary, the Nominating Committee is selected by the Committee on Committees, and approved by messengers of the SBC in June. The following March the Nominating Committee meets in Nashville, Tennessee to recommend men and women from across the SBC to serve as trustees of our SBC agency boards. The Nominating Committee that met last week was selected by the Committee on Committees appointed by Bobby Welch in his last year of service as President of the SBC. Frank Page's first appointed Committee on Committees will present next year's Nominating Committee at the SBC in San Antonio this June.

Again, the full report of this year's Nominating Committee will be made public by Baptist Press on April 19th. I am confident that all the people who served on this year's Nominating Committee are sincere and wonderful people, and I have been assured that the leadership of the committee, including the Chairman, went the extra mile to insure that the appointments were impartial. I would like to point out five examples from this year's Nominating Committee meeting that illustrate why things are changing in the SBC.

(1). The President of one of our agencies sent a letter to the two members of the Nominating Committee from Indiana recommended a list of people to serve on his board. To the credit of the Indiana contingent, they expressed disappoint that this had occurred, and it makes one wonder if the days of Presidents of any SBC agency seeking to influence the Nominating Committee are over.

(2). One of the Nominating Committee members, when making his nomination for a trustee on the board of Southeastern Seminary made this statement: "And President Danny Akin likes him." I'm sure this particular Nominating Committee member has a sincere heart and does not realize the inappropriateness of contacting Dr. Akin to see if the President likes a particular person, but Southern Baptists must realize that Presidents should NOT be catered to when it comes to putting particular people on their board. Also, vice versa, Southern Baptist boards should not be stacked in an effort to remove a President. When sitting trustees 'vet' potential trustees to insure the board is filled with 'like-minded' people, then we have a problem. The Holy Spirit should guide the Nominating Committee and the Presidents of our entities, and sitting trustees, should have no influence on the Nominating Committee. There should be very strict guidelines that are adhered to closely to insure the nominating process is not manipulated. What makes me hopeful, and that for which I commend the members of this year's Nominating Committee, is that innocent statements like this are seen as problematic by some members and steps are being taken to inform others that the process should be INDEPENDENT of any SBC agency administration.

(3). The pastor and layperson who served on the Nominating Committee from Florida initially nominated to serve on the International Mission Board the Florida Committee on Committees member who had nominated them to serve on the Nominating Committee. This is a violation of bylaws, and though it was not initially caught, we should give thanks to the the excellent staff of the Executive Committee for discovering the bylaw violation and the Nominating Committee for correcting it. I'm sure the initial oversight was innocent, as well as what happened next, which may have just slipped by the notice of the entire committee.

Out of the hundreds of thousands of Southern Baptists in Florida who have never served on a board, the two Florida Nominating Committee members, a pastor and a female doctor, nominated Debbie Brunson to replace their initial recommendation which did not meet the guidelines . Debbie is a vivacious, charming lady who loves the Lord and is a wonderful pastor's wife at First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Florida. Yet Debbie has already served over a three year term on the IMB. The bylaws also state that a person must reside within a state for an entire year before they can serve on an SBC board. Debbie and her husband Mac have been at FBC Jacksonville, Florida for a year - sympathetic with Landmark tenets. Again, I am not suggesting that Dr. York be replaced as a nominee at all. I am simply illustrating that the sensitivity to being sure we appoint a broad representation of views for trustees of our agencies is growing, and the very likeable Herschael illustrates this point. I realize that it is a process and we have not fully arrived, but in an ideal world, the trustees would reflect the broad and various views of the Southern Baptist Convention. As has been stated by one of our finer Southern Baptist historians, there is a growing Landmark presence in SBC academia, but it is definitely not the majority view. As Nathan Finn writes:

A second group of inerrantists whose star continues to rise is the Landmark movement, which is both a movement unto itself and a shadow-movement that can be present as a subset of many of the above movements (particularly the revivalist and Calvinist movements). Landmarkism was long out of touch with SBC leadership, but has enjoyed a major revival in the last 30 years or so. Once confined to the mostly rural churches of Kentucky and Arkansas, Landmarkism is once again roaming the halls in some corners of SBC academia.

It would also be a mistake to uncritically embrace Landmarkism. Let me say loud and clear that I am much more concerned about those among us with no discernable Baptist ecclesiology than I am with Landmarkers. At least Landmarkers are attempting to articulate a systematic, biblical ecclesiology, even when (in my opinion) they fall short. Landmarkism itself is not the bad guy. But some versions of Landmarkism are not benign. There is a type of strident Landmarkism that historically has led to the rejection of cooperative missions among Southern Baptists and attempted to equate “Landmark” with “Baptist.” Modern versions of this malignant Landmarkism should be resisted because they will destroy us.

Neither Nathan Finn nor I would say Dr. York is part of strident Landmarkism, but his potential presence on the board strengthens any Landmark tendencies that may be present. Over a year ago a key trustee of the IMB told me, "I am Landmark and proud of it." The SBC is not a Landmark Convention, but as I and others, including David Rogers, have been saying for now well over a year, if we are not careful we will continue a sharp shift toward Landmarkism as a convention.

(5). The Chairman of the Nominating Committee has encouraged all his members to be in San Antonio. I think he understands, as do I, that 'the freedom of being able to interpret the Scriptures differently on tertiary doctrines but work together in cooperation for missions' is the inviolable foundation of the Cooperative Program. Anything less will destroy the fabric of our convention.

Again, I am grateful for the people who have served on this year's Nominating Committee. There seem to be some really wonderful appointments, and even the two specific appointments that I have mentioned in this post will ultimately be good ones for the SBC. I do believe this year's committee and Dr. Frank Page's appointment of the Committee on Commitees have brought a sense of freshness to nominating process and will ultimately insure that we keep our trustee boards as independent, broad and diverse as possible.

Rachelle and I will be leaving for Memphis, Tennessee after church today to attend the International Mission Board. As I have stated on multiple occasions, the SBC works best when our work is done in openness and transparancy. I will give you my opinion and perception of this week's IMB meeting in posts Monday through Thursday.

Blessings to you all.


Wade

22 comments:

Lee said...

I'd be in favor of a bylaw that limited service on SBC boards and committees to two terms. Once you've served as a trustee or committee member, you are no longer eligible to serve anywhere else.

There are 16 million names on our rolls, and even if you just count the weekly worship attendance, 6 million people, most of whom are capable, and many more of whom would be more interested in what the SBC does if it didn't seem like such an exclusive, narrow group. Two terms is plenty, and the bylaw should include making spouses of those who have already served ineligible as well.

Just an opinion, one I've held for about 30 years.

Roger Simpson said...

Wade:

Maybe I'm just hallucinating over here but I think there were at least a dozen comments on this thread earlier that are now missing.

I just very briefly glanced at them but the subject of most of the comments was related to your topic #4 about the extent that those with a leaning tword a "Landmark" viewpoint are present on the BoTs.

Tim Rogers said...

Brother Wade,

A couple of items in you article that do not make sense to me.

First, are you saying that Dr. Brunson and his Wife Debbie push Landmark Tenets? Or, are you saying that FBC Jacksonville pushes Landmark tenets?

Second, you have pointed out that Sister Debbie Brunson is in violation of the Bylaws because she has not resided in Fla. for a year. But you now say that you are not advocating her not serving. Why are you calling attention to it?

Third, you have said in a previous post; "I'm sad that we seem to be more concerned right now in the SBC with a person's gender than we are a person's lostness." Why bring this issue out about a pastor's wife. There was a pastor's wife that served in the IMB BoT whose husband is chairman of a influential committee but you have said nothing about that.

Fourth, as an IMB trustee you have access to that board's minutes and other inside movements that others do not have. However, I did not realize that you have access to the workings of a committee that does not present it's report until April 19. I thought these proceedings were to remain private among that committee? How did you get the inside workings of a committee like that?

Just some questions that do not make sense to me.

Blessings,
Tim

Steve A said...

I used to wonder why our boards of trustees were so large, numbering in the dozens; I suppose they were made large so that factionalism would be reduced. If hundreds at a time are serving convention-wide hopefully we'll have people from all over serving. Is there a geographical breakdown anywhere of hometowns of serving trustees and committee members?

Anonymous said...

Wade,
Your link to York's sight in no way demonstrates that he has Landmark tendencies. But I did not see them in his article. If anything it provides a cogent defense of the IMB's policy on baptism (I did notice there was no mention of tongues).

If you think that the belief that only a local church is authorized to administer an ordinance = Landmarkism, then you have not studied Landmarkism and are misusing them term. Landmarkism has first and foremost to do with succession of local churches. York made no reference to that point at all.

Maybe your misunderstanding explains why so many people are falsely throwing the term around the convention.

Wade Burleson said...

Roger, if you read my first paragraph you will see that the original post and comments were accidentally deleted.

Wade Burleson said...

Steve,

Geographical breakdown per states will be given on April 19th for all incoming trustees. I know of no accumulated information for all trustees and boards.

Wade Burleson said...

Tim, answers to your questions:

1. I think you misread my post. The Brunsons are nowhere mentioned in association with Landmarkism.

2. Again, you misread my post. 'Sister' Debbie is within the one year requirement - barely.

3. I have no idea what you are talking about here.

4. Openness and transparency are the hallmarks of Christian ministry. We are not selected Secret Service agents. I am commending the Committees work.

Wade Burleson said...

Anonymous,

Landmarkers are known for their view of pastoral 'authority,' a denial of the universal church, and other issues besides only church succession.

Anonymous said...

Tim Rogers,

There is a mistake with a html tag in this post which is why the Brunson and York sections run together in an odd way. Below is the affected text.


Debbie and her husband Mac have been at FBC Jacksonville, Florida for a year - barely. Again, Debbie is a great lady, but one wonders why she had to be tracked down in Jerusalem to see if she would be willing to serve, when a cheaper phone call would have put the members in contact with other Southern Baptists in Florida. But, if this is the only questionable appointment to come out out of the meeting, then we are in very good shape as a convention.

I am not advocating Debbie be removed from the list of nominees by any means, but I am hopeful that everyone in the SBC, including all future Nominating Committee might be particularly sensitive to what may look like favoritism on appointments. Debbie served one year in 2002 on the North American Mission Board as a trustee from North Carolina. When she and her husband moved to Texas in 2003 she was immediately placed on the IMB as a trustee, and then they moved to Florida last year and she is being recommended to be put immediately back on the IMB. Her appointment can be defended, but I am grateful that everyone now knows these appointments are being watched closely.

(4). The committee also nominated Dr. Herschael York to serve on the International Mission Board. Dr York is a likeable man. He is a seminary professor and also happens to be sympathetic with Landmark tenets. Again, I am not suggesting that Dr. York be replaced as a nominee at all. I am simply illustrating that the sensitivity to being sure we appoint a broad representation of views for trustees of our agencies is growing, and the very likeable Herschael illustrates this point.

G. Alford said...

Wade or Anyone else,

Can someone give us any of the following information?

1. Full list of names of those that have been nominated to each Board.
2. The educational background of each person nominated.
3. The Church that each person nominated attends.
4. The size of each nominees home Church.
5. The C.P. giving of each nominees home Church.

Thanks and Grace to all,

Wade Burleson said...

G Alford,

The full list of nominees will not be made available until April 19 unless a member of the Nominating Committee gives it to you earlier. Everyone has been contacted to serve, accepted if elected, and elections have taken place.

There is nothing secret about the appointments. This is kingdom work and everything should be open. The reason for the full release of information on April 19th is because SBC bylaws demand that this date be the absolute LAST date that it be made public.

When the full list is released much of the information you request will be made available, but not all. CP giving, educational background, and size of the church is never made available to the public.

Wade Burleson said...

Tim,

I still don't see it. Trying, but everything looks exactly the way I intended. In what I am viewing, at least on my computer, no links 'run together in an odd way.'

Thanks,

Wade

Paul said...

Wade,

It may be a browser issue...I don't know. The feed of your post in Bloglines appears fine, but when I read the post here on your blog there is a problem in points 3 and 4 where some text is missing (I'm using Firefox). This is how it reads:

"Out of the hundreds of thousands of Southern Baptists in Florida who have never served on a board, the two Florida Nominating Committee members, a pastor and a female doctor, nominated Debbie Brunson to replace their initial recommendation which did not meet the guidelines . Debbie is a vivacious, charming lady who loves the Lord and is a wonderful pastor's wife at First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Florida. Yet Debbie has already served over a three year term on the IMB. The bylaws also state that a person must reside within a state for an entire year before they can serve on an SBC board. Debbie and her husband Mac have been at FBC Jacksonville, Florida for a year - sympathetic with Landmark tenets. Again, I am not suggesting that Dr. York be replaced as a nominee at all. I am simply illustrating that the sensitivity to being sure we appoint a broad representation of views for trustees of our agencies is growing, and the very likeable Herschael illustrates this point. I realize that it is a process and we have not fully arrived, but in an ideal world, the trustees would reflect the broad and various views of the Southern Baptist Convention. As has been stated by one of our finer Southern Baptist historians, there is a growing Landmark presence in SBC academia, but it is definitely not the majority view."

G. Alford said...

Thanks Wade,

I am sure that your evaluation that things are improving with the nomination of Trustees is accurate… and I am very grateful for the good news.

My questions are not meant in anyway to suggest that excellent and well qualified individuals are not being selected… I believe they are! My questions are aimed at “shedding some light” on just what “type” of individuals from throughout the SBC are being selected as nominees to serve on our BOT’s.

I would only like to get a better feel for how broadly (or narrowly) the average church is being represented on our BOT’s… Right now I don't have a clue.

Grace to all,

benarie said...

Just a reminder to everyone that this notion that the Nominating process has just been recycling the same old faces, but now this year's committee and Dr. Page's committee for next year will reverse this trend...is inaccurate at best.

While it is true this was an issue in years past, both the Nominating Committee's of Bobby Welch and Jack Graham were very intentional about bringing new folks into the committees and boards. 97% of the 190 new trustee nominations from the 2005 and 2006 conventions had never served on an SBC trustee board before. Also, I believe that it was this past year's Committee on Committee or the Nominating Committee which was 100% composed of individuals who had never served in SBC life.

Let's be careful about promoting assumptions among people when the facts do not support it...at least in regards to the past few years.

Tim Rogers said...

Brother Wade,

What are you talking about with your last comment? Or was that intended for another Tim?

Blessings,
Tim

Wade Burleson said...

Tim,

It was meant for you. I think Paul has shed some light in suggesting it is a browser problem. I have copied and pasted my post, in the paragraph that seems confusing, EXACTLY as it looks to me as I read it in my browser.

Out of the hundreds of thousands of Southern Baptists in Florida who have never served on a board, the two Florida Nominating Committee members, a pastor and a female doctor, nominated Debbie Brunson to replace their initial recommendation which did not meet the guidelines . Debbie is a vivacious, charming lady who loves the Lord and is a wonderful pastor's wife at First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Florida. Yet Debbie has already served over a three year term on the IMB. The bylaws also state that a person must reside within a state for an entire year before they can serve on an SBC board. Debbie and her husband Mac have been at FBC Jacksonville, Florida for a year - barely. Again, Debbie is a great lady, but one wonders why she had to be tracked down in Jerusalem to see if she would be willing to serve, when a cheaper phone call would have put the members in contact with other Southern Baptists in Florida. But, if this is the only questionable appointment to come out out of the meeting, then we are in very good shape as a convention.

I would be interested in how many read it the way you and Paul see it in your browser. If there are many who do I will take the post down, but there is no way I can correct what is already accurate as I read it on my browser.

Paul said...

Wade,

It looks fine in IE, so it must be a browser thing.

Tim Rogers said...

Brother Wade,

I have copied exactly what I have on my browser"

"The bylaws also state that a person must reside within a state for an entire year before they can serve on an SBC board. Debbie and her husband Mac have been at FBC Jacksonville, Florida for a year - sympathetic with Landmark tenets. Again, I am not suggesting that Dr. York be replaced as a nominee at all."

I agree, with your last comment to me it definitely is a browser problem.

STOP THE PRESSES!!!

Wade and I agree on something. :>)

Seriously, I thought you were really losing it, or I was going absolutely crazy.

Blessings,
Tim

Wade Burleson said...

Tim,

I knew we could find agreement between us.

:)

Rzrbk said...

Wade,
You mentioned that it is wrong for a C on C member to nominate a C on N member who then turns around and nominates the C on C person as a trustee and I believe that is a good rule. There is an even bigger problem that every one seems to ignore. Should a convention employee be eligible to be elected President of the SBC and then appoint the C on C that will appoint the C on N that will appoint the trustees that govern the entity he serves? For example, should a seminary president be involved in appointing his own trustees or involved in appointing trustees of the other entities if he has a grudge against a president of another entity? In my home state no state convention employee can be elected a convention officer. The SBC should follow that rule also.
Ron West