Friday, March 17, 2006

The Schedule for the IMB Meeting and a Request for Prayer

The International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention will convene this Monday through Wednesday, March 20-23, 2006 at the Doubletree Hotel Westshore Airport, 4500 West Cypress Street, Tampa Bay, Florida.

The schedule is as follows:

Monday, March 20, 2006

The prayer room opens at the hotel at 10:00 a.m. and is open until 6:00 p.m. I plan on being in the prayer room from 4:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. Monday.

12:00 noon to 2:00 p.m. --- Four different leadership committees of the IMB convene.

2:00 p.m. --- The trustees officers of the IMB meet.

4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. --- The Chairmen's Council of the IMB convenes.

5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. --- There is a trustee and staff dinner at the hotel.

7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. --- The Trustee Forum.

The Trustee Forum is closed to the public and is considered a confidential meeting. I have said in the past, and I reiterate again, I do not like these closed door meetings. Some may argue they are absolutely essential, and in fairness, I think there may be some very rare, exceptional reasons for meetings like this, but the Trustee Forum occurs at every Board meeting and lasts for a minimum of two hours, and sometimes longer.

Unfortunately, closed door meetings, if we are not careful, may be a forum where people may say things with impunity. I have found that when people know they have to give an account for their words, they are usually more reticent to speak. The public eye brings a razor sharp accountability and I am of the firm opinion that every single matter dealt with by IMB trustees should be done within view of the public, if at all possible. Of course, if the life of a missionary is in danger, by all means we should keep things private, but otherwise, Southern Baptists need to know what we are discussing. Anyway, I think you can tell that I really feel we operate at our best when we operate in openness and transparancy.

I have been told by the Chairman of the International Mission Board that they will be recommending to withdraw the recommendation for my removal as a trustee. I am appreciative. I look forward to working with my fellow trustees, for the next seven and one half years. Many trustees will be rotating off this June, and this will be their last Board Meeting. I hope that this meeting can be about missions and not get consumed with controversy as was the last one.

I do not plan to attend the Trustee Forum, unless I am specifically asked, and I will then only attend with the understanding that any discussion that involves the recommendation for my removal, or possible censure, be made public.

It is too difficult for me to review all that has occurred during my eight months as trustee for the IMB, so please allow me to briefly summarize so that you may know why I think it would be wrong for me to attend the Trustee Forum.

(1). I felt from my first contact to serve as a trustee (the initial contact was made by a sitting trustee and not the Nominating Committee of the SBC) through my first full meeting in July of 2005 that I was being recruited to be part of a caucus of trustees that were not pleased with the IMB under the leadership of Dr. Jerry Rankin. I gently and repeatedly turned down each request to participate in these "informal" meetings. Please remember, those who participate in these meetings believe they are doing the Lord's work. I am just reminding them that the Lord's work is performed by, and involves, all the trustees, not just a few who lead the others.

(2). At my first IMB meeting last July, 2005, I learned of the new policies on tongues and baptism that were going to go into effect in the September 2005 BOT meeting. I asked several questions about these new policies in July (Who initiated them? Why do we need them? Why are the old policies not sufficient? How does staff feel about them?) To be candid, I felt as if I was not getting straight answers to my questions. Some may have felt that new trustees should be silent and observe, but as I have stated repeatedly, these new policies really concerned me.

(3). In the September 2005 Board of Directors Meeting I continued to ask questions, including how the Personnel Committee (of which I was a member) had the authority to establish policy without full board approval. The IMB attorney eventually informed our entire board that, indeed, the Personnel Committee did not have the authority to establish policy. The full board had to vote on the policies in November 2005. Everytime I spoke I affirmed my love and respect for my fellow trustees, and as can be confirmed by listening to the audio tapes, I always spoke gently and graciously, but I did ask some very tough questions.

(4). During the November 2005 meeting in Huntsville, Alabama, the entire Board of Trustees voted on the new policies. I was on the losing, minority side. I distinctly remember leaving that meeting with several trustees on the majority side coming up to me and shaking my hand and telling me they loved me, and I told them the same thing. A few gave me a hug, and I gave them one as well, and I left the meeting excited about the future of the IMB, believing that even though I felt these new policies exceeded the BF&M, not to mention the Scripture, we could still focus on missions together.

(5). In December I began a blog. I frankly wanted to fulfill my responsibility to the Convention, as mandated by the IMB trustee manual, and give my interpretations regarding the new policies. I think anyone who has read my blog has seen my desire to be gracious to everyone involved, while at the same time expressing my views. I am trying to simply help us as Southern Baptists see that dissent and disagreement is not unhealthy; only the silencing of dissent is not good. Further, I think there are a great many who see things in our convention similar to the way I do. I am attempting to speak for them.

(6). The January meeting was very, very difficult. It seems that while not many trustees had read my blog, selected excerpts of comments from other people about my blog, and some on my blog, were sent to trustees. My blog was THE debate at the January meeting.

(7). Let me repeat. The blog was the debate. Anybody who reads my posts from that January meeting will know that the blog was the debate. I have only treated my fellow trustees with grace, respect and love. There was one occasion in January when I got angry. I cannot give you the details. I would absolutely love to do so, but since it occurred in forum, I can't. Let me just say, I was dumbfounded at what had just occurred and I was thinking about my family, my children, my church, my reputation, my future. I want to think it was a righteous anger, and I have asked my friends who were with me in the forum, and they have said they would have been angry if they were in my shoes as well. Nevertheless, Jesus was silent before his accusers and I should have been too.

(8). In the final public session of the January's IMB meeting a motion was read into the offical record that I be removed from the board. The entire discussion revolved around my blog and the "gossip and slander" in it. I asked for proof. To this day I remain dumbfounded that I have never received anything as the basis for the charges.

(9). It seems that there is now an attempt to say that the real problem was "not my blog," or "not my opposition to the policies," but my general attitude and treatment of my fellow trustees. All I can say to those who are concerned about the way I treat my fellow trustees is read what trustee Rick Thompson has said about the way I treat trustees at Just Because We Disagree Doesn't Mean We Don't Like You. Also, go back and read my January posts and see what I think of my fellow trustees. I like them. I may not agree with the majority at this time, but I like them. I may not bend or be silent, but I like them. I may not do what they want me to do, but I really like them. Anyway, don't let anybody try to tell you it's about anything other than my blog.

(10). Once the trustees remove the recommendation for my removal I will look forward to working within all the policies and guidelines of the BOT. I do believe some policies need to be changed, but if I intended to operate outside of current policy I would resign. I will attempt to change policy as a trustee, but will abide by all current policies whether I agree with them or not.

Since the recommendation to remove for gossip and slander was made public by the trustees, then we need to either address both issues publicly (as I have asked from day one), or the recommendation needs to be taken off the table. I have been told that is what is going to happen, and when it does, I will then attend the Trustee Forum, but not until then.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A very important day. I love it!

8:00 to 12:30 noon --- We will be interviewing potential missionaries all morning! This is my favorite time of the meeting. I have met some wonderful people in the region I serve (Central Asia). I look forward to working with Western Europe, West Africa, the Pacific Rim, and South America as we combine committees during the morning to deal with a heavy volume of missionary candidates!

12:30 to 2:00 p.m. --- Lunch (this is a great time of fellowship, and any Southern Baptist in Tampa Bay, come join us for lunch. We'll meet in the lobby at 12:30.

2:30 - 5:30 p.m. --- The Major Committees of the IMB will be meeting. I will be meeting with the Mission Personnel Committee.

5:30 to 7:00 p.m. --- Dinner.

7:00 -9:00 --- The Plenary Business Session of the IMB (Open to the Public).

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

8:00 - 12:00 noon --- The Plenary Business Session of the IMB (Open to the Public).

6:30 p.m. Appointment Service -- Idlewild Baptist Church, 18371 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Lutz, FL

The Appointment Service is the one thing you must not MISS!

It's late at night, I'm in D.C. with my son. Thanks for your interest in missions!

I am very, very excited about the future of the IMB and the SBC. Great things are happening and even greater things are around the corner.

Please pray for the IMB meeting. I am hopeful that we can come out of it with a clear vision, a unified spirit, and a love for missions that can't be sidetracked by any side issues!

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson

P.S. I just received an email that confirms what I have sought to convey to you. I am removing the name of the person who sent it, but I think it might be helpful to those of you who were not present at the January meeting. Read on:


First, thanks to you both for your blogs. Also thanks and PTL for you Wade, in the way you have conducted yourself the last few months. I was at the Jan BOT and saw how you spoke to Tom and the other members. I was very impressed with your spirit...His Spirit in you.

I do have a concern about blogging at the board meetings and was wondering if the bloggers would consider passing their text by the IMB news writer before publishing.

Sometimes in the overseas reports shared with the board, the presenter will forget he is in a public meeting and say things that should not be reported. I am talking about how God is working stories or what the IMB is doing. My concern is that a blogger doesn't have that background and something will get out. I know no blogger wants to put IMB personnel or nationals in danger.

Thanks for all you are doing and how.

Praying for all the trustees....



Bob Cleveland said...


If someone on the BOT accused you of things that were not true, then that person was lying and must be held accountable. If that was the case, I hope it happens.

Withdrawing the motion as a result of repentance .. which includes the concept of thinking differently .. will result in an apology. Withdrawing the motion for reasons relating to not wanting it discussed at the SBC meeting in Greensboro, will not result in an apology.

Time will tell which it is, and was.

Hang in there, brother. I'll be praying for you.

Kevin said...

I'll be praying for you, brother. Stand firm.

Anonymous said...

Response to the email from which you deleted the author's name:
If the meeting is "public", the responsibility for the material presented rests upon the "presenter" to screen the content, not upon the blogger. If the meeting is "public", to require that the blog be screened by the INB press writer amounts to censure and infringement upon freedom of speech.

I agree with you, Wade, that the more open we are is informing the grassroot members of the SBC the better the convention will function. Secrecy is seldom necessary unless there is something being done that should not be done. Your exceptions to this are duly noted and agreed upon, eg. the safeguarding of personnel. said...


I am willing to give the benefit of a doubt. I am willing to believe that people honestly did not understand what a blog was, assumed it was "gossip" and as far as the "slander" part, I can assure you, without hesitaion, there are people who regret that being said. As long as the record is straightened out, I am fine without an apology. Love covers a multitude of sins. So . . . rather than accuse others of "lying" I think I would prefer "a lapse of judgment" which all of us, including me, are capable.


I am sensitive with the safety of our missionaries, and I think the responsibility should be on the shoulders of those who speak pubicly, not necessarily those who record what is spoken publicly. Frankly, when Southern Baptists get used to doing everything publicly, I think you will find far better care taken during business sessions to say only those things that are proper and beneficial. However, I will be extra, extra sensitive about recording details spoken in public if I believe they put a missionary in harm's way, and if something slips by I will immediately correct it.

Thanks for the comments. I am my way to Williamsburg, Virginia (8:00 a.m. eastern) and will not be able to post other comments till sometime this evening.

David Rogers said...


Thanks for being willing to “give the benefit of the doubt”. If we all were willing to quit defending our personal rights, without at the same time stopping to speak out about concerns which affect other people and the advance of the Kingdom in general, we would have a bright future in front of us. I will be praying for you.

Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Dr. B,

I'm with Mr. Cleveland. Un-doing the action against you is fine. But if the perpetrators do not say, "We were wrong." and "We are sorry." then I will be very suspicious that they are making a tactical retreat only to regroup for another attack later. I am looking for true words and principled conduct, not political-ish spin.

Thanks for what you are doing, sir. We're praying for you and the rest of the board.

Love in Christ,


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your very gracious spirit. I have read every word of every blog, and though you have expressed disagreement, I have yet to find one critical word against any individual. You have been the epitome of grace and class. Thanks for the way you represent me on the IMB as a Southern Baptist.

Anonymous said...


Iron sharpens iron...I believe GOD has allowed this debate to strengthen the IMB for HIS work. At the very least the IMB should know that We baptist are concerned with missions both with our Trustees and our pocketbooks. May the peace of JESUS be all over you and the Board this week and forever. Thanks for holding the banner high..