An interesting day (Tuesday) at the SBC. I will cover some of the more interesting items from the morning and afternoon sessions, but I will save an evaluation of Dr. Morris Chapman's speech, a critique of the Sojourn Baptist21 Conference at lunch, and a report on Tuesday night's SBC session for the morning.
Several motions were offered from the floor early Tuesday included two very bizarre ones:
(1). A motion to force Convention agencies to cease funding and/or cooperating with the ACTS 29 Network or Mark Driscoll ministries.
(2). A motion to forbid any person to speak from the platform of the Southern Baptist Convention who has declared it is acceptable to drink an alcoholic beverage. The messenger who made this motion called drinking alcohol "reprobate behavior."
The above two motions will addressed by the Executive Committee and SBC at a later date.
Another motion to disfellowship from Broadway Baptist Church, Fort Worth, Texas for allowing gays to have their photographs taken in the church directory passed, just as I predicted. A motion to disfellowship from FBC Decatur for calling a female pastor, another motion I predicted would be offered, has not yet been presented, though there are a couple of business sessions Tuesday night and Wednesday where this could be offered.
During the morning session I offered an amendment to the Nominating Committee report, substituting Bart Barber's, FBC Farmersville position as an at large trustee for Southwestern Theological Seminary (term expiring 2012) with Buddy Hunt, FBC Tahlequah. I was allowed to speak to the motion and offered the rationale for the substitute motion.
Dr. Bart Barber is an adjunct professor for Southwestern Theological Seminary, teaching church history last semester (Spring 2009). Bart has drawn a salary and various benefits from Southwestern while on their payroll. I explained that to appoint Bart Barber as a trustee of the institution that has provided him a paycheck is in violation of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and their respective statements regarding conflicts of interest.
I affirmed that Bart and Buddy were both good men and friends, but that as a Convention we should avoid any appearance of irregularities, but I'm not sure the Convention understood the "irregularities" at stake. I didn't point out, but might should have, that to have an employee of an institution being in a position (i.e. "a trustee") where he will make decisions regarding his own salary, benefits and future personnel policies that shall affect him as an employee is a definite conflict of interest. Corporations would be fined for such violations by the various regulatory oversight agencies that enforce FASB and GAAP. It is up to the Southern Baptist Convention to police ourselves.
However, the member of the Nominating Committee who spoke on behalf of Dr. Barber's nomination said he had "prayed" about it, and that every person nominated and voted on by the ENTIRE committee was precisely who they beleived God desired to serve on the various boards. I am glad the members of the Nominating Committee prayed about the people they nominated, but frankly, if their actions violate ethical and moral standards that even secular corporations follow, it might not be wise to let people know you prayed about it. It's a little like saying, "I prayed about robbing the bank and felt like God would have me do it."
The Southern Baptist Convention has historically voted on behalf of the full Nominating Committee report. I can only recall one time in the last 30 years that a substitute nomination from the floor was approved by the Convention. My motion to replace Bart Barber's nomination also failed. However, I am glad I pointed out the conflicts. It puts the people who need to know that they are being closely observed on notice.
There is an interesting conflict arising over a motion to appoint a Great Commission Resurgence Task Force. That motion, debated Tuesday night at 7:40 p.m., is causing a rift among leadership in the SBC. On the one side you have Dr. Morris Chapman and the various State Executive Directors (only two state exec's signed the GCRD), and on the other side you have national agency heads and seminary Presidents who would like to see churches be able to give directly to their ministries - bypassing the State Conventions.
I find it ironic that some will try to frame the Great Commission Resurgence debate in terms of "How can anybody be AGAINST the Great Commission Resurgence?" - a little bit like people who were pro-conservative resurgence in the early 1980's used to say, "How can anybody be AGAINST a belief in an inerrant Bible?"
Just a word of caution before the debate tonight regarding the Great Commission Resurgence - the debate is more about politics, turf and money than any disagreement over whether or not we need a resurgence in the Great Commission.