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

Conflicts of Interests in the SBC and the Great Commission Resurgence Declaration (and Conflict)

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.

More later.

Wade Burleson

47 comments:

Joe White... said...

Wade,

Not sure why you were so "concerned" that an alumni and former adjunct teacher as SWBTS would become a trustee of SWBTS? I wonder if you studied each of the other nominees backgrounds for possible "conflicts" of interest?

Your motion smelled badly of politics as usual and of a possible vendetta. I know you said Dr. Barber was one of your "friends"; I would hate to see how you treat your enemies. Thankfully, the convention saw through the cloud of suspicion your motion sought to create and made the right decision (resoundingly).

Our seminaries need men of the character of Dr. Barber as trustees; men with a love and genuine concern for their futures. I am sure your substitute is a man of great character as well, but I for one am very thankful your motion failed.

Joe Blackmon said...

If Bart is not currently drawing a salary or benefits there is no conflict of interest that I am aware of under GAAP which really doesn't cover conflict of interest anyway. Conflict of interest, or the disclosure thereof, would be related to internal controls.

In any case, since he "was" an employee there should be no conflict with him now being a trutee. Hopefully, Mr. Tom Parker will be around in a bit and correct me if I'm wrong. I'm pretty confident since, well, I make my living as an auditor.

Clif Cummings said...

I believe we will never see significant change in SBC politics and "turf wars" until the annual convention is de-centralized and an opportunity to participate is given to the vast majority. The technology exist!
Also, just imagine how many more missionaries the NAMB and IMB could put on the field for the amount of money it has cost for 8,000 plus to convene in Louisville?
Just a thought.

Lin said...

I was shocked to see that more folks voted with you on the trustee conflict that I would have thought. More and more are 'getting it'. I was in the very back and could see the ballots raised. I was expecting to see only a few. I was surprised to see much more than that. But obviously not a majority. :o)

And yes, it is a conflict. ut folks have been taught for 30 years not to question leaders judgements. And I agree that the person saying they 'prayed' about it so it was ok, was extremely lame. Jim Jones used to say that, too. :o)

We have quite a few conflicts of interest and double dipping situations going on that concern me.

On the motion about Driscoll, no one in my vacinity knew who he was. At least 30 folks around me had never heard of him. I had to repeat his name for them several times.

Is the crowd younger this year? Sure looked like it.

Jon L. Estes said...

The crowd is younger but take into account that SBTS students are here.

Numbers are lower than I thought with the SBTS students being involved.

Thanks for noticing my wife and my ballot being raised in support of Wades amendment.

On my way back to enjoy the debate, or so I hope.

Thy Peace said...

Stop Baptist Predators > Kicking out gays but keeping clergy-perps.

Stephen Wilson, a member of the Executive Committee and vice president for academic affairs at Mid-Continent University, emphasized to Baptist Press that the denomination encourages churches to reach out to people struggling with homosexuality. The issue with Broadway Baptist, though, is over a church allowing members who are homosexual and unrepentant . . .

Christa's Comments:

Oh… I see… the real problem is that these five gay church members are “open” and “unrepentant.” They’re violating the #1 rule of Baptist life -- keep it secret. If you dance, don’t tell. If you drink, don’t tell. And if you’re gay… well that goes double… don’t tell.

I can just hear some of those SBC leaders now. “Why can’t those gay-guy troublemakers be more like our clergy child molesters? The clergy child molesters aren’t open about it and so it’s no problem. And even when they’re caught, they have the good sense to repent. Or at least to say they’re repentant."

D.R. said...

Wade,

I found it problematic that you did not mention in your post the clear statement made by the member of the Nominating Committee who spoke on behalf of Dr. Barber's nomination in which he said that were Bart to be confirmed, he WOULD IMMEDIATELY NO LONGER BE AN EMPLOYEE OF SWBTS, therefore no conflict of interest exists.

Under your understanding absolutely no former professors (whether they be adjunct or full-time) could ever serve as a board of trustee member at the institution in which they were formerly employed.

A quick search of almost any board of trustees at almost any educational institute in the U.S. would show that no one agrees in principle with your position. Neither then should the SBC.

Tom Parker said...

D.R.:

So you see no conflict of interest?

RRR said...

Wade,

Thanks a lot of the updates. Sounds like going to the zoo!

Wade Burleson said...

D.R.

If Bart has ANY intention of drawing a paycheck ever again at SWBTS he should not serve as a trustee of that institution.

That is a conflict of interest in any corporate setting and definitely within a Christian ministry.

Tom Parker said...

Wade:

Was Dr. Barber's becoming a trustee of SWBTS different than the appointment of other trustees?


If so, what is the normal process? My thanks in advance.

Lydia said...

"Under your understanding absolutely no former professors (whether they be adjunct or full-time) could ever serve as a board of trustee member at the institution in which they were formerly employed."

Patterson is one of Barber's mentors. Now, he is in a position of holding Patterson accountable. He is going to hold his former boss and mentor accountable? Also, he is known as an apologist for Patterson over the past few years.

It looks more like stacked deck to me.

Wade Burleson said...

Tom,

I do not know the answer to that question for certain, however, I will trust the word of the young man who spoke on the platform on behalf of the ENTIRE Nominating Committee. He said the entire committee voted on Bart.

But when I read the Nominating Committee Report, Bart was filling a position for a female with DS beside her name, which means "Declined to Serve."

There are occasions when the Nominating Committee votes on a person to serve, and that person subsequently declines. Then, a SUBCOMMITTEE - not the full committee - simply places a person in the position vacated by the one who declined to serve. I served on the Nominating Committee in 1997, so I know how the process works.

I thought, until the young man told me differently from the platform, that Bart was appointed by a sub-committee of the Nominating Committee and was not voted on by the entire committee.

But, I will take the young man at his word.

Tom Parker said...

Wade:

Thanks for the answer. Based upon your answer the process looks like it was different for Dr. Barber. Why?

Texan said...

Surely you guys have been around Baptists long enough to know how it works.

There is noone nominated to the SWBTS Board of Trustees that has not been approved by Paige Patterson. Period.

I have sat in on meetings where this process took place so I know from when I speak.

Michael Ruffin said...

Wade, you said,

"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."

Those may be the two most profound paragraphs you have written in quite a while. They frame this debate nicely within the parameters of what most if not all SBC "debates" and "controversies" and "resurgences" have been about in SBC history over the last 30 years.

Well said!

Texan said...

The ONLY thing the Conservative Resurgence was about was power, turf, and money. And now its all coming to light.

Thy Peace said...

I wonder how SBC would be different, when PP moves on from this world. From my reading on blogs, PP calls the people he mentors his sons. Would the sons carry on his legacy? Or would they all fracture with his passing? This is obviously premature for he seems very healthy.

This is what all the soviet watchers would do in the olden days. Speculate the passing of the current leaders and what comes next.

Jim Paslay said...

Texan said:

"The ONLY thing the Conservative Resurgence was about was power, turf, and money. And now its all coming to light."

Yea, Yea, and the Easter Bunny is for real. Please, Texan, spare us your moderate diatribe.

By the way, what is coming to light? I was at the convention and I have been to conventions in the past. Who is in control, Texan? Is it Patterson and Pressler like you were led to believe down there in good ole Texas? I would really like to know!

Michael Ruffin said...

I'm a moderate and I would say that Texan overstates the case when he says "The ONLY thing the Conservative Resurgence was about was power, turf, and money."

But change "ONLY" to "primary" and he's got it about right.

And I'd leave the Easter Bunny out of this; SBC truth is much stranger than children's fiction.

Darby Livingston said...

Yep, I've thankfully missed another petty business meeting with a bunch of personal agendas being passed off as concern for God. My kids' baseball and softball games and swim meet have been much more satisfying.

Michael Ruffin said...

Darby,

And in thelong run, your kids' events may do more for the Kingdom!

Darby Livingston said...

Oh Michael, I love redeeming recreation!

Joe Blackmon said...

Tom

People can have different opinions on what might look like a conflict of interest and maybe even mean different things with that phrase. However, from a standpoint of GAAP or FASB standards, I don't see how being a former employee would create a conflict of interest here. In all seriousness, is there something I'm missing? If so, wuold you explain it to me.

Now, you of course may think I'm being a smart alec and all but I'm seriously wanting to know if I'm thinking correctly from a standpoint of accounting standards. If I am off somewhere, please explain if you've got time. Thanks.

Texan said...

Jim,

I am still laughing over you accusing me of a moderate diatribe. If you knew me in person you would know I am more right wing than anyone you can imagine. Anyone who was involved in the early years of the CR (both conservative and moderate/liberal) and who actually knew what was going on, can tell you it was all about power, politics, and money. The conservatives only adopted the inerrancy issue because they knew the moderates were vulnerable at this point. They were also vulnerable at the point of homosexuality and that was well exploited in the early days. Go back and check your history.

Do not think that the convention is not run by Paige Patterson and his little minions. The only difference these days from the early days of the CR is that his boys are younger and his elephant heads are older. He has more power than you can even begin to imagine.

I'll have to be sure to tell my pastor buddies that you called me a moderate. They will love it!

D.R. said...

Tom, do you not see how the conflict of interest is avoided by stepping down from his position?

The conflict of interest came about by the fact that he was an employee. Simple math says that when you subtract that variable, then there is no equation by which the conflict of interest exists. The employment was terminated. End of story.


Lydia,

What you said was a red herring. That was absolutely not Wade's argument and you know that. That wasn't even a consideration in the process (unless Wade wants to admit otherwise). Let's stick to the debate at hand - whether there was a conflict of interest due to employment. Again, do a search and you will see that plenty of institutions have former employees on their Board of Trustees. It's a regular practice.

D.R. said...

Wade,

You said, "If Bart has ANY intention of drawing a paycheck ever again at SWBTS he should not serve as a trustee of that institution."

How can either he or you or anyone else know that for certain? And how could his trusteeship cause a conflict of interest for future (possible) employment? I'm sure you could come up with some extreme case, but making decisions for temporal trusteeships based on future possible situations isn't the best practice.

I tell you what - revisit this in 15 years and tell us that you were right based on some empirical data. Until then, the SBC has spoken DEFINITIVELY on this. I have my doubts we will ever see any problems come about. Just one more thing to focus on instead of the Gospel and the best interest of our seminaries. Isn't that what the young leaders have been trying to get say all along?

Lydia said...

"What you said was a red herring. That was absolutely not Wade's argument and you know that"

DR, I was not making or even affirming Wade's argument. I was making my own.

Personally, based on what I have seen in their blogging ethics, I do not think he is qualified to be a trustee. Secondly, I do not think he would hold Patterson accountable for anything. Including having a pastry chef at Pecan Manor.


" That wasn't even a consideration in the process (unless Wade wants to admit otherwise)."

Why not? It should be. How many Bob Reccords and Paige Patterson's do we need? SWBTS gets 10 mill of CP dollars. I would like to see some serious accountablity from Trustees. But the decks are stacked with rubber stampers.

"Let's stick to the debate at hand - whether there was a conflict of interest due to employment. Again, do a search and you will see that plenty of institutions have former employees on their Board of Trustees. It's a regular practice."

I think YOU should do some research. You are trying to convince us it is an everyday practice for a 'recent' former employee of the CURRENT president... someone known to be an apologist for said president... and his personal protege' to be a trustee of the same institution?

Ever been to a faculty meeting of a large university? Obviously not.

Lydia said...

"I have my doubts we will ever see any problems come about"

You are making my point for me. When the deck is stacked we never learn about the 'problems' until it is too late.

Ron said...

Wade,
Thank you for making the good effort on the issue of conflict of interest. Whether he has stopped his employment or not it is a conflict of interest to be placed as a trustee over an institution and where you must hold accountable the President of that institution who has done so much to benefit you financially and politically in the past. Let us remember Bart Barber is being appointed as a result of the appointments of Frank Page. What a disappointment his presidency was for those of us who thought he would bring about needed changes.

It is impossible to substitute names for those on the nominating committee report. Even if you do pass a motion to do it, the CR people will get the parliamentarian to rule it out of order like the did in Dallas back in the 80s when Charles Stanley was president. I think someone should make a motion that no one be allowed to serve as a trustee of an institution where they have been employed for 10 years after they stop being employed by that institution.

Another conflict of interest is to have a professor at a competing seminary, Mid-American, serving as chairman of the trustees of SWBTS as we have had. It is in the interest of his employer, Mid-American, to have SWBTS weakened and embarrassed and he accomplished that during his reign as a trustee.
Just think how much better Russell Dilday would have done if he could have picked his own trustees as Paige Patterson is able to do. Of just think how different it would be for Paige Patterson if Dan Vestal or Stephen Fox or Cecil Sherman were allowed to pick the trustees at Southwestern as happened when Adrian Rogers and Jerry Vines were picking trustees at SWBTS.

I was also around in the early days of the CR and Texan is right. It was always about power and money. I am conservative and an inerrantist. I could not support the Conservative Resurgence because it was not about conservative theology. I cannot support the GCR because it is not about the Great Commission. It is about money.
RW

Jess said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jess said...

The two bizarre proposals you mention are particularly interesting in light of the lengthy examinations for the decline of youthful participation in SB life, including the convention, local leadership, and in SB church life in general. It's ironic that they can't (or choose not to) see the correlation.

Tom Parker said...

D.R.:

You and I and Joe B. must have different definitions of conflict of interest.

Will Dr. Barber be objective--I don't think so, therefore conflict of interest-End of story.

Joe Blackmon said...

Tom

Thanks for the response. I see why you're saying there is a conflict of interest. However, I still don't see this as having anything to do with GAAP or any FASB pronouncements. Do you? Am I missing something?

Thanks

Tom Parker said...

Joe B:

Maybe the issue is not only objectivity but independence in appearance--which Dr. Barber will not have. Objectivity and independence are important items in determining if there is a conflict of interest in accounting.

Dr. Barber has way too much history with PP to be objective or independent.

Joe Blackmon said...

Tom

Ok I see your point. I am pretty sure this would have nothing to do with GAAP since that's presentation and disclosure stuff. I also don't think there's a specific FASB pronouncement that is applicable here. However, I do see what you're saying about someone being able to choose who their boss is going to be.

Thanks.

Matt said...

Wow, Wade, did you get your opposition to Bart's trusteeship out of the "Ben Cole SBC Annual Meeting Playbook"? I should e-mail Ben about this. I'm sure he would be flattered.

Wade Burleson said...

Joe Blackmon,

Black's Law Dictionary (Bryan A. Garner, Second Pocket Edition, The West Group, 2001) provides two definitions of conflict of interest –

•A real or seeming incompatibility between one's private interests and one's public or fiduciary duties; and

•A real or seeming incompatibility between the interests of two of a lawyer's clients, such that the lawyer is disqualified from representing both clients if the dual representation adversely affects either client or if the clients do not consent.

Both GAAP and FASB require written and signed documents on file that disclose any conflicts of interest. To not acknowledge the conflict of interest between one's private interests (salary) and one's public fidicuary duty (trusteeship) is a violation of both GAAP and FASB.

GAAP and FASB don't define conflicts of interest (the law does), they only declare how conflicts should be both declared and documented.



Blessings,

Wade

Lydia said...

"Just think how much better Russell Dilday would have done if he could have picked his own trustees as Paige Patterson is able to do. Of just think how different it would be for Paige Patterson if Dan Vestal or Stephen Fox or Cecil Sherman were allowed to pick the trustees at Southwestern as happened when Adrian Rogers and Jerry Vines were picking trustees at SWBTS."

Exactly. It is nothing more than 'protection'.

ml said...

Wade, watch how things are shaping up. Two sides in SBC life now are not Arminianistic and Calvinistic streams. They are "who are legit Baptist" and "what should Baptist be" groups. Interesting how the motions to investigate are targeted to Alvin Reed, Danny Akin, and Ed Stetzer over partnering for the Gospel. This is going to get interesting over the next year or so, as you say.

Lindon said...

They are "who are legit Baptist" and "what should Baptist be" groups. Interesting how the motions to investigate are targeted to Alvin Reed, Danny Akin, and Ed Stetzer over partnering for the Gospel. This is going to get interesting over the next year or so, as you say.

Wed Jun 24, 01:55:00 PM 2009

This really confused me considering Bobby Welch and the GER. Isn't that what he is doing around the globe?

farmboy said...

Regarding Joe Blackmon's references to GAAP and pronouncements by the FASB, GAAP for not-for-profit corporations differs from GAAP for for-profit corporations. Thus, what represents a conflict of interest for a not-for-profit corporation may not be the same as for a for-profit corporation.

A for-profit corporation has a board of directors that represents the interests of the shareholders. Members of the board of directors are often classified as inside versus outside directors. Using the standard of affiliation with the corporation, inside directors, by definition, have a conflict of interest. This is why members of the audit committee of the board of directors are to be outside directors and the internal audit function is to report to the audit committee.

A not-for-profit corporation lacks shareholders, thus the board of trustees for a not-for-profit corporation is not completely analogous to the board of directors for a for-profit corporation. Instead of being managed consistent with shareholder interests, the board of trustees provides oversight to ensure that a not-for-profit corporation is managed consistent with its charter and bylaws.

My guess is that most accountants are used to benchmarking from publicly traded, for-profit corporations. From this perspective, an inside director is no big deal.

Not-for-profit corporations are a different animal. The role of the shareholder is missing. This eliminates the potential of shareholder discipline of directors and of corporate takeover.

Sheila said...

Perhaps there is a conflict of interest in this selection of a trustee, perhaps not. However, there is ample reason to be on guard against conflicts, as evidenced by this report from the Associated Baptist Press, dated April 8, 2004:

"During their April 6 meeting, trustees elected their chairman, David Allen, as dean of the theology school and Denny Autrey, chairman of the trustees' academic affairs committee, as dean of the J. Dalton Havard School for Theological Studies in Houston. Both positions are effective Aug. 1."

Sitting trustees, chairmen no less, were hired by the institution.

Perhaps a better motion would be to require five years to pass before a trustee can be employed by the institution for which he or she was a trustee.

William said...

I wish you had merely asked the question, rather than attempted to have him excised from the report.

He WAS employed. It was disclosed that his employment would be ENDED if elected as a trustee, leaving you with FUTURE employment as the basis for your objecting to his election as trustee? That may be a little weak, although I wouldn't have faulted you for raising the matter in a blog anytime in the weeks since it was disclosed that he was to be nominated as a trustee.

Are you privy to future plans of Barber and SWBTS?

I am aware that Bart has attempted to have a study made about the compensation level of SBC profs.

D.R. said...

It seems like the objections that are raised are more in line with accusations that Bart WILL indeed abuse his position, rather than any solid evidence that this is a conflict of interest (even Wade couldn't show definitive proof - just another possibility and accusation).

But honestly, who could ever be completely free from any possible impropriety? Anyone could use their trusteeship to game the system. Anyone could be unethical, even Wade.

In the end this smells more like politicking by Wade and others than real concern over the future of SWBTS. Now that's an accusation that just as provable as the one made toward Bart, yet I am certain many of you will object.

Sorry guys, but you just aren't convincing and the vote shows it. Bart's been confirmed. Regardless of anything I say you guys (and gals) are not going to listen to reason or argumentation, so I give up (again). Just glad the VAST majority of the messangers saw through the politics.

Tom Parker said...

DR:

You accuse some of not listening to your reason or argumentation. Me thinks you are likewise quilty of not listening to reason or arguementation from others. Funny how you accuse others of exactly what you are guilty of. But like you I give up trying to convince you.

Matt said...

D.R.,

You said:

"In the end this smells more like politicking by Wade and others than real concern over the future of SWBTS. Now that's an accusation that just as provable as the one made toward Bart, yet I am certain many of you will object."

See my comment not far above yours.