For several weeks, I have struggled with the idea of putting an article on this blog endorsing one of the two candidates for President of the BGCT. I had to smile at the suggestion, on another blog, that those with “clout” post their endorsements. I don’t believe I have any “clout,” though the hit counter on this blog does take a jump when I write about BGCT issues. But I have some strong feelings about the future direction of the BGCT. In spite of advice from friends in the ministry, who have suggested to me that I get out of the Baptist mess, and leave it behind for the “greener pastures” of non-denominational ministry, I still believe that the work of the BGCT is important and vital. The presentations of the college presidents at the recent TBC meeting I attended only served to strengthen my resolve to press on, if for no other reason than those nine institutions and the work that they do to advance the kingdom. I certainly “get it” that TBC played a large role in keeping those institutions from being dominated by narrower interests. However, we are living in a new day, and under new circumstances.
If it were simply a matter of choosing between the two candidates who will be nominated, I’d probably flip a coin to decide my vote. I might even be persuaded that it’s about time we elected a woman as president, and decide on that basis alone. I had the privilege of meeting Joy Fenner at the TBC gathering this past summer, and she is extremely gracious, knowlegeable about Baptist life and Christian ministry, and from every appearance, capable of leadership. At this particular time, however, I don’t think she is the leader we need. There are other issues that need to be addressed, the most pressing of which is the convention’s ability to restore the trust it lost as a result of the “mistakes” made by the current administration particularly related to the Valleygate situation. The convention administration and executive board need to be pro-active in regaining that trust to move forward into the future. David Lowrie’s candidacy has focused on doing exactly that. In addition, there has been no organized political effort behind his candidacy. It’s time to elect someone who doesn’t owe their election to a specific group, but who can serve all Texas Baptists on an equal footing, and for that reason, when the ballots are cast in Amarillo, mine will be marked for David Lowrie.
I made some major changes in this post from its original version. I attempted to explain my reasoning, and didn’t do so to my own satisfaction. Looking down the road, there are some disturbing signs that there is trouble ahead for the BGCT. The recent layoffs of staff, and the accelerated decrease in Cooperative Program support indicate that more of the same could be on the horizon. Apathy and polarization cannot be allowed to take a further toll. The convention needs to be unified, and I believe that David Lowrie will be able to reach into constituencies that have not responded to BGCT leadership in the recent past, and do just that.
Personally, I appreciate the work of TBC in keeping the BGCT from being controlled by a fundamentalist faction. The fact of the matter is that, in spite of dire predictions, the BGCT is still a solid, theologically conservative, evangelistic and missions minded state convention. The fact that most Texas Baptist churches which still uniquely support the SBC have remained in the BGCT is a testimony to that fact. I have a tremendous amount of personal respect for the leadership of TBC, which includes two former pastors that I hold in the highest esteem. I will continue to maintain my membership in TBC through my financial support. But on this issue, I see things differently. I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of naming the officers of the BGCT, in spite of having heard many times over about why that was necessary. In the wake of events that have taken place in the BGCT, it’s time for a different course of action.