My attraction to the BGCT (Baptist General Convention of Texas) annual meeting, which begins in Dallas on Monday, was a twelve page list of workshops that will be offered during the two day meeting. There are some people out in the trenches of ministry and missions in Texas who are good at what they do and don’t mind sharing their time with others to help out. When I was in Christian day school education, the best conferences at teacher conventions weren’t the ones done by the consultants and experts in the field, they were the ones that other teachers in similar positions conducted.
There will be some evangelism events prior to the convention which I won’t get to attend because of my Sunday responsibilities. The focus will definitely be on the business sessions.
You can read about “Valleygate” in my previous blogs, or at http://www.baptiststandard.com. That’s going to be a major topic of discussion, I am sure, along with all the potential fallout, most of which hasn’t yet begun to take place. The executive board has met twice since they heard the investigative report, but no word on the outcome of those meetings is forthcoming.
Fallout, from difficulties in denominational life, is a difficult subject. Christians are what they are because of God’s grace and mercy, forgiven sinners totally dependent on God for spiritual guidance and eternity. Some of those forgiven sinners become leaders in Christian structures for ministry, and are called to vocational service where their livlihood is mingled with their ministry calling. They make mistakes in the performance of their work, just like every other human being does. When the magnitude of the mistake becomes a major issue, and relates to stewardship of resources as well as continued trust and ability to perform one’s job, the only resolution, in my humble opinion, is prayer and dependence on the leadership of the Holy Spirit, and the realization that living like we are dependent on God’s grace and mercy isn’t quite as easy as we might have thought it was.
Being one of those people whose livlihood and ministry calling are the same, I have a tendency to shy away from evaluating a person’s job performance, and placing their livlihood in jeopardy, based on one error in judgement. I’d be much more comfortable if I knew God had been consulted and had delivered a message regarding the direction that needed to be taken.
“Valleygate” should not have happened. Let me say, clearly, that those who carried out the plan to defraud the BGCT of mission money are the ones who bear the brunt of the responsibility. Those in authority who allowed it to happen are guilty of a lapse in judgement but not on the same level as those who benefitted from the money. The executive director, Dr. Charles Wade, should have listened and investigated when told there were problems, and should not have allowed his personal friendships and influences to cloud his judgement.
The BGCT must now decide what it will do about Valleygate. That decision is complicated by the fact that Dr. Wade has some detractors who are angry about a recent restructuring of the BGCT that led to the dismissal of some long time employees. I think the bitterness associated with that is creating more of a difficulty than it probably should.
Obviously, one of the actions the BGCT needs to take is to put policies into place which prevent something like this from happening again. That almost goes without saying. The resignations and retirements that have happened to date as a result were appropriate actions. There may be others who should resign, and might need some encouragement from the BGCT to see that as something they need to do.
As far as Dr. Wade goes, his record as executive director of the BGCT is stellar in every other aspect, as was his service as a pastor prior to that. He has been the man for the hour in the BGCT, and frankly, the restructuring that was initiated under his leadership had been needed for a long time. He’s been the face of Texas Baptists in a controversy with the SBC that has nullified the claim that the BGCT is just a bunch of liberals. He’s clearly a man of God, a Bible believing, Christ honoring servant who is not afraid of hard work or standing firm as the Lord leads.
He has earned the right to determine his own future with regard to the BGCT. I think convention messengers need to respect that, and not call for his retirement or resignation. I can only guess that this is something he is considering. Texas Baptists need to give him the room to make that decision on his own, and pray fervently for him during this time.