The BGCT search committee charged with the responsibility of hiring an executive director recently announced that it would not be likely that they would have a candidate to present by the time the September exec board meeting rolls around.  Personally, I think that’s a good sign.  You never really know what happens in committee sessions like that, but it appears that this committee is, at the very least, taking their time. 

It also appears that they are seeking the advice and counsel of Texas Baptists in making this decision.  They’ve scheduled listening sessions around the state in order to hear what people have to say about the selection process, and the qualifications of the person to be named.  I must admit, I am somewhat skeptical when a denominational committee says, “We want to hear from you.”  I’ve heard that a little too often when the results have demonstrated a complete lack of concern for the opinions and input of all but a small, narrow group of good-ole-boys.  I’m a bit optimistic about this particular decision partly because, in the wake of Valleygate, there is heightened awareness of the fact that a lot of churches may base their future support of the BGCT on the committee’s choice of an executive director, and partly because there has been a drop-off in Cooperative Program giving to the BGCT since last November’s state convention meeting.   I also know a couple of the members of the search committee, and I believe they want to be fair in their decision making, and want to present the BGCT with the best possible candidate who will lead the BGCT forward. 

These listening sessions are sort of like voting.  You’ve heard the old saying that if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain.  Well, believing the same about these listening sessions, I plan to attend the one in Waco on August 10. 

It is my intention to express my view that the next executive director of the BGCT needs to be separated from convention politics, “insider” groups and circles of influence.  He or she needs to bring a fresh perspective into the cooperative missions and ministry aspect of the state convention, and a renewed focus on our cooperation.  We need someone who is willing and able to work with the diverse theological, political and cultural constituencies within the BGCT.  It should be someone who is not associated with any particular interest group in the convention, whether that be CBF, TBC, or SBC loyalists, but who is visionary enough to understand that a Baptist convention is a servant to all of its independent, autonomous congregations and that cooperation in missions and ministry can succeed in spite of secondary differences of opinion. 

Frankly, I would be disappointed in a candidate whose resume includes a long list of committee memberships, trustee board appointments and denominational power positions.  I’d rather see someone who has a record of success in a job that required administrative skills and good personal relationships than someone who has a pedigree of positions that were more the result of knowing the right people than actual ability to do the job.  I’m totally opposed to someone who gets the job because they’ve “paid their dues” by being “loyal” to someone’s idea of a cause, and in this particular instance, I’m absolutely opposed to any current BGCT executives being “promoted.”  I think our current situation demands that we bring in someone from the outside, who is not steeped in “convention culture” and who is not associated with any of the dissention or discord that has marked the convention in recent months. 

There are a lot of people who are watching this development.  I believe the future effectiveness of the BGCT rests on this decision.  If it is perceived that there is an interest group that has influenced the decision, you will see much more than the current 3-4% drop off in Cooperative Program support for the BGCT.

Thursday, Aug. 2, 10:02 p.m.  Tim Dahl, “Tike’s Best Friend,” has a couple of excellent articles on this subject at http://www.tikesbestfriend.blogspot.com/ .  Take a look at what he has to say.  It’s right on target.  Visionary leadership for the BGCT will require deep change in the way the convention does things and relates to its churches.  The “same ole same ole” will lead to continued decline.  We need to make a choice between preserving the status quo long enough for a few prominent people to squeeze some prosperity out of it for themselves, or a leader who understands that the way we are doing business now is going to lead to the rapid decline of the convention and its churches into complete irrelevance.  It’s time for an out of the box decision from a progressive committee. 

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About LS

I'm 56, happily married for 25 years, B.A., M.A., career educator with experience in education as a teacher and administrator, native Arizonan living in Pennsylvania, working on a PhD and a big fan of the Arizona Wildcats, mainly in football and basketball.

3 responses

  1. Tim Dahl says:

    Hey Lee,

    I have to admit that I’m conflicted on who to vote for when it comes to the next BGCT Prez.

    I feel that if I were to vote for Fenner because she was a woman, or Lowrie because he isn’t the “establishments” candidate; I would be making a mistake.

    I’ve never wanted to be a one issue voter, and I don’t want to start now. After reading the Standard’s piece on them, I don’t see that much different about them. I think both would make half-way decent leaders. I don’t think either of them would embarrass us.

    But, will either of them lead in such a way that progressively leads us into the future? Or, will they both try to bring us back to the pinnacle of the “good ‘ole days?”

    Let me know what you think.

    Tim

  2. Lee says:

    I don’t know much about either individual other than what I’ve read. I’ve heard a little about Joy Fenner from people I know who are active in the BGCT. I’m not inclined to support her mainly because she’s the “next in line” candidate who is in position to be elected as a result of the old line, good old boy, “pay your dues”, work the system kind of candidate. She may be a great person as an individual, but I don’t see her as providing the BGCT with the visionary, progressive leadership it needs. Frankly, I’m tired of candidates with insider connections to the kingmakers.

    I’m glad that there is going to be an alternative, and I’ll have to do my homework on Bro. Lowrie before I decide what I will do.

  3. Dylan3707 says:

    I don’t want to elect a woman for the sake of electing a woman. I don’t have any objection to a woman serving as president of the BGCT (or as executive director, for that matter), but it should be a young woman with a good handle on what ministry is going to look like in the future, and who realizes that the state convention is going to have to experience deep change in the way it does business to continue to be relevant.

    I really like David Lowrie’s vision of the future, because I think it is right on target. This business of turf protecting and allowing one group to name and claim the presidency of the BGCT is divisive. We have “moderate Baptists” doing exactly what they object to fundamentalist Baptists doing in the SBC. The fact of the matter is that the majority of churches in the BGCT still cooperate with the SBC, and still want to cooperate. Lowrie’s vision of connecting where we feel we can connect, and not forcing connections where they won’t work well is right on target and is the wave of the future for convention and denominational cooperation. His ability to articulate his vision, and his willingness to include all Baptists, including those who want to continue to cooperate with the SBC at whatever level they choose, convinces me that he’s the man for the job.

    Maybe if we found a woman who could articulate David Lowrie’s vision, we’d have the perfect candidate, almost.