Thursday, January 12, 2006

Last night I arrived home exhausted. I knew the meeting in Richmond would be a tough one, but it went beyond my imagination. It was good to get home.

I do not believe the majority of trustees understand the power of the internet. Most told me they did not know what a "blog" was, but after hearing what I heard these past three days, I do think that not a few trustees believe a blog to be something "evil." There are some hilarious things that were said to me about "blogs" and "bloggers," most of which I cannot repeat since it occurred during "Executive Session."

One anecdote that is not confidential is a conversation with an influential trustee. He went on and on about the damage my blog was doing for missions and the International Mission Board. I listened respectfully for five minutes, all the time wondering, "How could anyone who actually has read my blog believe I was 'damaging' the IMB? Damaging to certain tactics of trustee leadership I could understand, but the IMB?"

So I finally asked him, "Have you ever read my blog?" His response. "No, and I don't want to." I never cease to be amazed.

I will attempt to keep this update very brief, but I believe the following information is critical. One very wise leader told me that you cannot sense "spirit" on a blog, so I must tell you my spirit as I write this. I am amazed and shocked by the actions of the trustees, but I do not harbor one ounce of animosity. In the providence of God, more good can come from this than anyone can imagine.

The following five things are very important to me:

(1). The recommendation to the SBC for my removal as a trustee that I heard written into the official record during the public Plenary Session yesterday morning used the words "gossip and "slander." In fact, those were the words actually used in the recommendation itself. After it was read I repeatedly asked for evidence. I was told publicly that I have it. Where? I have never been given or shown ONE statement THAT anyone has alleged to be gossip or slander. They may have meant liable because of my blog, but where is there liable? Show me.

Once the trustees give specific allegations, we can deal with them one at a time, but rather than anyone sitting down and telling me point by point what I have "said" (slander) or "written" (liable) that is not true, I will, of course, repent. Period. It's one thing to tell me my house is burning, it's quite another thing to show me the fire. Show me.

I was amazed that those two words were removed from the statement released to the press later that afternoon. Is the official record now changed? I honestly do not know. It is amazing though how a person can be publicly accused of slander when no evidence has ever been shown him in private.

(2). There is no policy or procedure of the IMB that forbids a trustee from blogging. There are policies and procedures that forbid private caucuses. In correspondence to all the trustees prior to this Board meeting, the chairman implied that this Board meeting would be used to address a breach of trust in the trustee Board. I assumed he was referring to this blog and possibly others.

I sent an email in response to the chairman and copied it to all the trustees that was direct and to the point. I would be happy if the chairman would make both his and my email public. I basically turned it around and said, "Yes, we do have a problem, but it's not the one you think." I will not go into any further details at this time, but I tell you this anecdote because I really believe the vast majority of those who voted to remove me did so because they thought I was trouble for the Board. Many people don't like conflict, and when they see a trustee, especially a NEW trustee, tackle very difficult issues head on, they consider him a trouble maker.

(3). The real problem is a strangehold of power on the IMB trustee board. It is not my desire to go into details at this time. I can, and I will if I must. I am all for friends and trustees getting together at the IMB. It is a violation of policy for trustees to politic, campaign, set agendas, denigrate dissenters, plan motions, undermine leadership, and in essence control the Board OUTSIDE OF THE REGULAR MEETINGS.

I am battling a principle, not people. I LIKE THE TRUSTEES and can work with them all, but why are we not talking about the issues I have raised? That is what my blog is about.

Questions I have raised:
(a). Why are the same people elected over and over to serve on the IMB Board of Trustees?
(b). Can former IMB employees who may have disagreements with current staff serve without any conflicts of interest as a trustee, and should they even be trustees?
(c). Is it appropriate for current trustee to vet potential nominees to the IMB to insure only like minded trustees are appointed?
(d). Can private caucuses be held to conduct business in violation of policy?

I am willing to serve as a trustee of the IMB and work with everyone of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, but they must know I will hold us all accountable to the Southern Baptist Convention for issues some may be unwilling to address.

(4). I was asked repeatedly to resign after it was voted that I be removed. Repeatedly. The last time was out in a hallway as I was about to leave to catch my plane. I was asked to resign to save the Board "embarassment." The words of this powerful trustee will be forever etched in my mind. He said, "Wade, it is not your words, it is your attitude."

I committ to my fellow trustees to work with them to advance the kingdom of Christ, but if by "attitude" you mean I am persisent in bringing to light what I believe to be problems, then you are going to have to learn to work with a trustee who has an attitude.

(5). I ask that all of my like-minded Southern Baptist friends continue to take the high road in this manner. Let us speak the truth but always do it in love. I could say so much more, but now is not the time.

Let me reiterate. I am the one willing to endure embarrassment to insure the IMB changes. If it costs me my reputation, I don't care. The mission of the IMB is bigger than one man.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

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