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

IMB Meeting, Monday, January 28, 2008 - Day 1

John Parton and I left Enid at 8:30 this morning and drove to Oklahoma City where we caught a plane to Atlanta and then one to Gainesville, Florida. We had the pleasure of sitting directly in front of Bobbye Rankin on the flight into Gainesville. Bobbye was her usual gracious and kind self. She has a great ability to make everyone feel at home in her presence and represents the Southern Baptist Convention and our worldwide work in missions quite well.

We arrived at the Hilton Hotel on the beautiful campus of the University of Florida at 5:00 p.m. eastern time. Our plane schedule did not allow me to attend the 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. trustee forum (closed door meeting), but several trustees shared with me the details of the discussion. As usual, I will honor the confidentiality of the closed door meetings, while expressing my belief - again - that any business of the International Mission Board that does not compromise missionary security should occur in full view of the Southern Baptist Convention.

After dinner trustee Chairman John Floyd left a message on my hotel phone telling me that the trustee board had been informed (he did not say be whom) that they did not have the authority to bar me from trustee board meetings. Further, trustee leadership did not have the authority to refuse to pay my expenses to come to the trustee board meetings, nor did they have the authority to keep me from participating and voting in any session where the full complement of the IMB trustees convene. This was not a surprise to me since I am familiar with both the bylaws of the Southern Baptist Convention and the International Mission Board and predicted this very outcome.

Frankly, however, I must refuse to accept reimbursement for my travel to and from IMB Trustee Meetings. I am requesting that Chairman John Floyd and trustee leadership (a new Chairman will be elected in May) take the budget funds spent on my (and once a year, my wife's) plane fare, hotel, meals, car rental or shuttle tickets, and various other expenses associated with fulfilling my trustee responsibilities and contribute those funds (estimated between $1,000 and $1,500 per meeting for six to seven meetings annually) to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for foreign missions. Emmanuel Baptist Church and her pastor consider it an honor to contribute these funds to the work taking place among Southern Baptists on the mission fields of the world.

The hour is late, and we look forward to an early start tomorrow as we visit with several missionaries and pastors who are in the area and attend the Plenary Session tomorrow evening at 6:30 p.m.

In His Grace,


Wade Burleson

40 comments:

SBC DOM said...

You are WAY too kind Wade. The question that keeps running over and over in my head is 'Why in the world didn't SOMEBODY realize they couldn't do what they did BEFORE they did it?'

Of course, the only answer I come to is that the trustee leaders who led the board to do what they did last November are either incompetent, or malicious, or possibly both. Lord help us all.

Anonymous said...

You are to be commended Wade for your example of humility and grace. If I were in your shoes I would demand an apology. Nevertheless, the example you give in refusing to have your expenses reimbursed speaks volumes. On behalf of me and my family, thanks.

Pac Rim M.

Anonymous said...

Wade, if you feel this comment is too long, feel free to delete it. I collected my thoughts and decided to write a comment rather than an email, but I in no way wish to detract from your post or this comment stream. I am a long time follower of your blog, and though we have never met, I have observed you in plenary sessions of at least three trustee meetings in the past two years. I have always seen you smiling and cordial to everyone around you, taking what looks like copious notes during the meeting, and not once did I hear you speak. After reading the accounts of the other trustee meetings that I was unable to attend, I now realize that you are always quiet, respectful, and faithful. I am attempting to get a grasp on why it is that you are receiving the very, very heavy handed treatment by certain leaders on the board. As far as I understand, you are the only trustee ever recommended for removal by a board, an action rescinded by that same board at the next meeting ---unanimously. You seem to be the only trustee in the history of the SBC to be 'censured' by an SBC agency board only to have that censure rescinded by that same board at the very next meeting. You never write anything derogatory or critical of individuals, but you do challenge people to think for themselves and are unafraid to point out problems in policies. The fact that your writing about policies and issues makes some look foolish, as they should if policies are not well thought through before implemented, is not your fault. Yet, you are treated so poorly yourself - personally. Besides wondering why you put up with it all, I have ruminated on the following question:

"What is motivating all this?"

I think I have an answer. Please tell me what you think. You are a conservative, not a liberal, and yet you are not beholden to the godfathers of the conservative resurgence. You are not afraid to think for yourself and make people give an account for their actions, no matter who they may be. You have had an incredible influence on the direction of the SBC and people are very afraid that they are losing influence and power because of you. Nobody can get rid of you. Nobody can control you. Nobody can get you in their debt. And you are like the Energizer Bunny - you keep going and going and going.

And, most importantly, you have come to the defense of the weak and wounded in the SBC and have put up a steel wall saying, "No more." No more will people be run over as chattel. No more will Southern Baptists be treated as outcasts if they don't conform to edicts from on high. No more will men in control and power go without having to give an account of their actions. THAT is why you receive such heavy handed treatment. You are making a difference. My wife and I are praying for you and your family. Thank you for always smiling. Thank you for always treating people with kindness and grace. Thank you for truly representing Southern Baptists and all of us who wondered if true Baptist heritage had been lost in our convention. Thank you for doing what I am not sure one other person in the SBC would have the guts to do.

A Fellow Admirer and Pastor

Ron said...

Wade,
Am I understanding you to say that the vote to censure you is void and in fact was out of order in the first place? I am wondering why since Jerry Corbaley announced what he was going to do well before the meeting that either he or John Floyd or both didn't research this and save themsleves the trouble of taking an action that was a waste of time. Who provided John Floyd with this ruling?
I am also wondering if the earlier action by the board that stated all trustees must say they agree with actions of the board even if they disagree and have voted against it is a similar motion. Can a board mandate that its members must always speak in favor of the actions of the majority of the board? Perhaps this should be researched.
Ron West

Robert Hutchinson said...

For if this plan or this work is of men, it will be overthrown; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even be found fighting against God. Acts 5:38-39 (HCSB)

“This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by strength or by might, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of Hosts. 7 ‘What are you, great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you will become a plain. And he will bring out the capstone accompanied by shouts of: Grace, grace to it!’ ” Zech 4:6-7 (HCSB)

Debbie Kaufman said...

I commend John Floyd for being honest with you so quickly. It may have been his duty to inform you, but I am sure a loophole could have been found to at least delay it. Kudos to John Floyd.

I am moved by your gift to the Lottie Moon fund and not surprised. Missions is at the heart of our church, it's a love that is carried through out our membership. We long to aid in the gospel reaching so many that we physically cannot.

Anonymous said...

It would not be surprising if Corbaley, Floyd and the others knew the censure was wrong and would be over ruled. They got what they wanted which was to publically humiliate Wade. They got the media coverage and impact that they wanted. I haven't seen the SBTC TODAY or BAPTIST PRESS running banner headlines say "John Floyd admits error in Burleson censure" nor do I expect to anytime soon.
Actions are not always done for the right and honorable reasons, but for the political and media impact that can be gained by that action. Few people read or remember retractions.

IMB in Africa

Steve said...

So, who's gotten to be the best at pulling arrows outta yer back at these meetin's, you or the Mrs.?

Glad to see Dr. Floyd is finally "getting with the program."

The Thompsons said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David said...

In the end, reputations . . .

1. . . . for seeming more like Bozos: John Floyd, Jerry Corbaley, and the IMB trustees who have failed to exercise the courage of their convictions--if they even have any convictions--in regard to these matters;

2. . . . for appearing more like Christ: Wade Burleson, and IMB trustees--almost all of whom are unnamed by either themselves or Wade--who have stood for the right in the right way and at the right time on behalf of present and future Southern Baptist missionaries.


Can it possibly be that the IMB and its current chairman think that no one among Southern Baptists--over 2 million of whom have visited this blogsite during its short life--still is paying attention to their actions/leadership in these matters? Such thoughts only would add to the list of their mistakes.

A suggestion for 2008: put the board's focus entirely back where it needs to be, serving the Lord by sending missionaries to the world as quickly as God provides the resources for it--and take any of the focus off of Wade Burleson or other present/future trustees like him who will question errant leadership.

Wade Burleson said...

Ron,

Please don't misunderstand. I can guarantee you that the people you name and others in leadership will never say the censure has been 'rescinded.' They will simply say those things they wished to happen cannot, but I remain under 'censure.'

Blessings,

Wade

Wade Burleson said...

A Fellow Admirer and Pastor,

Thanks for the kind words. I don't know if your rationale works because I can't get into the minds of others. Frankly, I myself continue to have no clue as to the motivation.

In His Grace,

Wade

Gene Prescott said...

David wrote:

((...Southern Baptists--over 2 million of whom have visited this blogsite during its short life--))

Is that a good number? Two million unique visitors? While I'm impressed with this blogs' activity over time, two million unique visitors is a lot.

http://betterhealthtmbc.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

"godfathers of the conservative resurgence"

Now there's some food for thought!


wtreat@centurytel.net

Louis said...

While the CR was an expression of concern over the theological status and projection of the SBC that had been brewing for decades, most of the "battles' that grab the headlines today are over minor points and usually involve a lot of, shall we say, "personality" issues as well.

Yesterday in our town, the top story was the New Covenant Baptist meeting. I was in a business meeting as it was starting, and one of the participants looked at me and another man, both of whom attend Baptist churches, and said, "Hey aren't the Baptists having that meeting this week in Atlanta that is designed to bring everyone together? (That's how the local paper had billed it).

Then another participant in the meeting said, "Before it's over, it will break out into a fist fight."

That's what most people think of Baptists, like it or not.

While I believe the CR was vitally necessary, it is over. We should always be concerned about theological issues, and we should be vigilant. But we have to develop an ethic and persona in Baptist circles (and churches) where fighting takes a lower priority.

The differences on the IMB trustee board, in reality, are very small in the grand scope of things. However, there are going to be many decisions in the years to come where some trustees will see things one way, and some the other. Unless it involves an issue of really major proportions, my hope is that whatever side does not carry on the issue de jour, will be able to accept that their side did not win, and see the big picture.

I am praying for peace in the SBC, her agencies and churches. I don't care who starts it, or who gets the credit. But I am tired of war, especially over very minor points.

God bless.

Louis

OC Hands said...

Wade,
The thought that came to mind as I reported to my wife the communication from John Floyd was the same as some others who have commented. "Why did they not know that this was out of order before they did it?" The second thought was "Why didn't they ask someone about this before they took action?"
The third thought was this: If they had asked (or listened to) the Holy Spirit, they would have been saved the trouble of having to say that they could not do what they did. I doubt that there was a "we are really sorry we did this" message that went along with the latest information. I beleive that they really wanted to do it, not because it was the right thing to do, but for revenge--an attempt to silence the one voice that will not be silent.
It is strange to me that those who seem to be making all the noise about correct doctrine and preserving Biblical teaching are the very ones who like the Pharisees adhere to the "letter of the law" but totally ignore the "Spirit." I cannot imagine the Holy Spirit leading them to do some of the things they have done, actions they have taken and attitudes they express.
I do want to encourage you, Wade, not to give up, even if the Convention's actions go against you. Think about who else will stand up for what is right and just? Who else will expose the hyprocisy and shady dealings if you don't?
It is still difficult for me to forgive some of these who apparently want to make the SBC something it has never been. The straining at a gnat has produced much grief and unhappiness for many people, and I can't really see where any of the institutions are better off spiritually because of it.
However, I do continue to pray and believe that God can bring good out of all this. I pray that the God who brought order and beauty in creation out of chaos and darkness will do the same in the SBC and its organizations of mercy and ministry, for His name's sake and for the many souls yet to hear the gospel

Marty Duren said...

Gene-
2,000,000 likely refers to page views, or "hits," not unique visitors. Even so, 2,000,000 hits is no minor accomplishment on a religious news style blog.

Wade-
Has John the SEAL met Dean Nichols yet?

Gene Prescott said...

Marty,

That is what I suspected, but want to confirm the actual numbers. With hundreds of us checking in daily, there would be lots more "visits" than visits from unique persons. That doesn't address that not all of those are Southern Baptists :-)

I agree that this blog is a phenomenon of major proportions.

http://betterhealthtmbc.blogspot.com/

Gary said...

Gene,

Visits, views, and hits are different things. When Wade's page says "Visitors", Marty got it right with his description. It doesn't tell the whole story, but is a very good measure of how many folks are stopping by.

Now "views" and "hits" are different. Let me share something which describes those differences:

Visit - Someone comes to your web site and looks around a bit. They may go to one page, or they may go to 100 pages, but they're still only visiting once

View - How many pages were viewed during that visit

Hit - How many physical resources were requested from the server by that visit. Pages are made up of many items (images, text, etc). Each of those is a "Hit", while a "view" is the page itself

Think of it like a book store. A person goes into the store (visit) and picks up 5 books to buy (views). While he is holding the books, he flips through them and looks at a few pictures (hits). So he would have 1 visit to the store, 5 books handled during his visit (views), and maybe 30 pictures he looked at (hits).
(Excerpted from http://support.smartertools.com/Customer/KBArticle.aspx?articleid=23)

Hope this helps.

Marty did get it right. And whoever "hosts" Wade's server sees a fair amount of traffic. It's good that his site is not graphic intensive!

Gary

P.S.: This stuff is part of my "tent-making" job - I'm an IT weenie.

Bob Cleveland said...

Wade,

Seems to me there are two possible explanations for the message (left on a voicemail thingamajig rather than delivered in person, in itself interesting to note) from Dr. Floyd.

A) The Holy Spirit has dealt with some people, which would be exciting.

B) The Lawyers have dealt with some people, which would be equally interesting, albeit in a different light.

For a sideline observer, it doesn't really make a lot of difference, which.

Gene Prescott said...

Gary,

One other distinction I've noticed on sites I perform the analytics on is sometimes a visit can be very brief, but the person clicked on a topic which opened the topic and all the comments on a single page and immediately sends that to a printer or PDF file for off-screen reading. That doesn't look like much in terms of pages visited or time on the site, but might equate to an hours visit for some of the topics on Wade's site.

http://betterhealthtmbc.blogspot.com/

art rogers said...

IMB in Africa has a significant point. I doubt we will see BP or SBTC running banner headlines announcing the IMBOT overstepped its bounds in its attempt to censure Wade.

To do so would smack of journalistic integrity, but not to do so will tell the tale of whether or not they are actually newsletters helping to drive a political agenda.

I want to believe the best about them, so I hope they will at least write a balanced story about it. Of course, I've been observing them for a few years now, so I would have to say that any story printed would be a slight surprise and a balanced story would be the biggest shock of the last couple of years.

Again, these people are no very politically astute. This stuff just draws the attention of the SBC back to their inability to focus on the mission and proclivity to play politics with our tithes and offerings.

Look at what I see: Marty Duren, Alan Cross, Art Rogers... All "retired" from blogging this stuff, all drawn back to the point of origin - Wade's blog - to comment on the issues, yet again.

If they think no one is watching or that they cannot again become the firestorm that ignites the convention, they must be the most collectively myopic group of people in the history of the world.

Maybe they are.

Lin said...

God Bless you and the Body at Immanuel! That is a great use of IMB dollars.

Alan Cross said...

I was going to comment here even before I saw Art mention my name because this is really unbelievable. Yes, I still stop by, especially during IMB Trustee meetings. Thanks, Wade, for keeping us up to date.

All along, a faction has told us to trust the trustees. Whatever they decided was appropriate because the system put them in their position and they were autonomous. Well, if we cannot trust the trustees to even understand their own bylaws and not engage in public actions against a sitting trustee that are disallowed, then why should we trust them to lead the IMB or set doctrinal policy? How in the world could they possibly publically censure Wade Burleson, not pay his way to meetings, and not allow him to participate when they had no right to do so, UNDER THEIR OWN BYLAWS? And, yes, I am yelling! This is absurd!!!

Yet, we can do nothing. Either, as IMB in Africa said, they are lying and duplicitous, or as sbc dom said in the first comment, they are incompetent. Either way, they do not need to be leading the IMB. You just can't make mistakes like this and expect people to trust you or follow you or trust you.

Or, the other option is, to be fair, Wade is lying. I would assume great stupidity on his part to lie about something this disprovable and public. Wade is not a stupid man. But, since we only have 3 options on the table (I choose not to hide behind the wishy-washy excuse of "people are just mistaken"), I think that it is imperative that we figure out which is the case. If this were happening in Congress, we would have a congressional investigation of the independent counsel variety. But, since it happens in the SBC, there is a collective yawn because people just can't believe that their leadership could behave this way. Yet still, IMB trustees stand behind arbitrary policies that go beyond the BFM just because they can.

Is this right? Is this just?

Okay, I'll stop now.

Benji Ramsaur said...

Wade,

Praise God for His providence.

You have been tested and your true metal is showing.

Many Baptists might not understand the complexity of the issues.

However, I think many Baptists can pick up when someone is a good hearted, missions loving Baptist such as yourself and begin to wonder why some in leadership positions seem to be against him and/or what he stands for.

I think many good hearted, missions loving Baptists would have no legitimate hope of feeling like they are a part of the Southern Baptist Convention apart from the Providence of God.

And it seems to me that God, in His providence, is using you to bring legitimate hope to Baptists that can identify with you.

And if God is using you, then NOTHING will ultimately stop Him.

Praise His name.

Benji

David said...

. . . Or, enough hits/visits/viewings by enough concerned folk to make a difference--as during the last summer or two at the SBC annual meeting. More SBCers are better-informed than ever before, and specifically because of the blogging done by Wade, Marty, Art, the Littletons, Ben, and others--none of whom I've met but all of whom I appreciate a great deal.

Good question, Gene.

Steve said...

Please help me understand something that I don't see anyone commenting on here. Dr. Floyd called Wade last night, at his hotel, to tell him they were mistaken. What if Wade and John were not already in FL? What if they were back at home? Would the response from the board be, "Oh, sorry, wish you were here--you are entitled to be here!"

Or, is it as I suspect, the "decision" was passed down during the Forum time Monday afternoon?

Steve

Debbie Kaufman said...

All along, a faction has told us to trust the trustees. Whatever they decided was appropriate because the system put them in their position and they were autonomous. Well, if we cannot trust the trustees to even understand their own bylaws and not engage in public actions against a sitting trustee that are disallowed, then why should we trust them to lead the IMB or set doctrinal policy? How in the world could they possibly publically censure Wade Burleson, not pay his way to meetings, and not allow him to participate when they had no right to do so, UNDER THEIR OWN BYLAWS? And, yes, I am yelling! This is absurd!!!

Yep. And don't forget those who want reform in these areas have been called troublemakers who make up things and don't see things clearly. :)

Alan Cross said...

Debbie,

Perhaps WE are the ones who want things to work they way that they are designed to. Perhaps we are the true conservatives who actually are building upon the traditional Baptist consensus that has guided us in the past, not new ideas that are being imposed by a group that came in under a different agenda. If not for the cult of personality that protects these actions, most Baptists would have put a stop to this long ago. But, because the actions that we oppose are protect by people who were heroes of the CR, it is just assumed that anyone who opposes said actions are just moderates in conservative clothing trying to take over the SBC. Maybe we are just good Baptists who want things to run the way that they are supposed to, and for that, we have been marginalized and have been considered to be the enemy just because we don't join the go along to get along gang.

Tom Parker said...

What if the other trustees would not accept money to these meetings and donated their portion to the Lottie Moon offering? What if they donated the cost of just 1 meeting? Something to think about.

Eric Stone said...

Are you suppose to publically decree when you give an offering. I find that kind of self-righteous. I am sure you won't publish this. I however am loving saying that I think the comment about where your travel expenses are going is not of a giving heart.

Anonymous said...

Eric,

What should concern you more is self-admission of 'loving' to point out what you deem self-righteousness or 'the lack of a giving heart.' Your comment says a great deal more about you than you probably realize.

Sam Brown

Dave Miller said...

I don't know if Eric's letter above exhibited a very gracious spirit, but he is probably right in one sense.

I imagine tht no one is required to receive reimbursement. However, if Wade wants the money to go to Lottie, he will probably have to take the reimbursement and make the donation himself.

Anonymous said...

Actually David, the IMB can simply take the money receipted for reimbursement and make a budget transfer to the LM designated account. It is a book transaction. More power to Wade.

Administrative M

Gene Prescott said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

((Actually David, the IMB can simply take the money receipted for reimbursement and make a budget transfer to the LM designated account. It is a book transaction. More power to Wade.

Administrative M))

That is interesting if it is correct. From Wade's post he will be submitting those costs to his church for reimbursement. Submitting the same costs to another entity and specifying the payee may not be prudent. I didn't get any notion that was Wade's plan.

http://betterhealthtmbc.blogspot.com/

Steve said...

I can hear Jerry & co. now....

"We might have to let him in the meetings, and offer to pay for his travel, but that doesn't mean Wade gets out of DOUBLE-SECRET PROBATION!!"

HT: Dean Wormer and the "Animal House" guys.

Benji Ramsaur said...

Eric,

If Wade did not make known that he wanted the money to go to Lottie Moon, then it would look like he took his rightful money after he had "claimed" he and his wife were "delighted" for the money to go to support missions earlier.

Wade expressed what he did not have to do [the money was rightfully his], but what he, as one free in Christ, has chosen to do [have the money that was rightfully his given to Lottie Moon].

Kinda reminds me of Paul in 1 Corinthians 9.

Anonymous said...

SBC DOM, fellow Pac Rim M, Fellow Admirer and Pastor,

I met to post this much earlier in the day, but had to go to work.

Thank you for taking the words right out of my mouth. All of your comments are exactly right on target. There needs to be a big change in the way the SBC and the IMB does it business, or they both will be history.

Wade,

Thank you for your grace and humility. You have set the standard high for some of the trustees. Actually, you are just doing the normal for any Christian. I wish I could stop by and visit with you. We are in north FL on a LOA from the IMB to care for parents, therefore I have to work so I can pay for health insurance and a few groceries.

Thank you for what you do for the cause of Christ. Oh that we had more Wades in leadership. Thank you for what you do for missions in general and missionaries in particular.

RP PacRim M on LOA

Bill Scott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Wade:
I have been reading your blog almost from the beginning and have appreciated so much your truthful way of providing information that most of us would not otherwise have knowledge of. I am saddened that it has come to your resigning from the IMB Board of Trustees, but I understand why you must. I will most certainly miss having the information you have provided.

My husband and I served with the IMB for over 10 years in the East Asia region. Our daughter was a journeyman in East Africa and recently she and her husband completed a year in Central Asia. This being cut short b/c the leadership in their particular area was rather difficult to work with and they were unable to continue under the constant negativeism that prevailed. They are back home now and unfortunately will probably not ever pursue a possible missions careet. For my daughter I was not so upset as she grew up on the mission field and was a j'man in a difficult region of the world and she knew how difficult some people are to work with. I was saddened for her husband who had not had experience on the mission field and he was quite disillusioned. However, our mighty God has provide well for them and has opened new doors of service.

Please know that I have appreciated your sincerity in the topics you have chosen to share in your blogs. Taking up the cause of those who have been mistreated by some of our more sanctimonious leadership in the convention...

I do hope that you will continue to blog and keep us challenged.