From David Currie’s October 9th online newsletter.
I agree wholeheartedly with most of what David Currie has to say here. I have just a few comments.
First of all, he has correctly pointed out that there has been a downturn in Cooperative Program giving to the BGCT over the past year. There has been, one which has left the convention about 5% short of its budget so far this year, and about 2% short of last year’s giving, which fell short of budget in similar amounts. As a result, there are layoffs. And I’m angry about those, too. But our executive director and treasurer both said they anticipated a slight increase in Cooperative Program giving for next year, and that the layoffs were the result of a loss of investment income, not Cooperative Program decreases. I’m not sure on what basis they anticipate an increase in CP giving. But I think the attention that these layoffs attracted, coupled with those nagging stories that keep popping up out of the valley, didn’t do anything to increase the trust of the churches in BGCT leadership. It’s hard for me to accept this job cut as a decision of “fiscal responsibility” when it has been made by an administration that has a miserable record in that department.
I have first hand experience, and some only recently healed scars, from the effects of fundamentalist control, not only in a state convention, but in a local church. I emerged from that experience trusting no one. I have a very good understanding of what the BGCT might have looked like had a fundamentalist takeover succeeded, and I could add a few examples of my own to the list. But I think that if we are going to heal from Valleygate, and work to regain the trust that has been lost, an appeal and comparison to what could have happened isn’t enough. Billy Ray Parmer was right when he said “preception is reality.” Sometimes perception happens regardless of the facts, but I wouldn’t say that’s exactly the case here. There have been plenty of facts to create the perceptions that currently exist.
One of the main points of Joy Fenner’s candidacy is the missions experience she brings to the table. What kind of perceptions are created when that’s one of the major points of her candidacy, while at the same time the missions department of the BGCT took the deepest job cuts, while the executive department took none?
The BGCT has lost its way. The laypeople in my church are not unlike those in most other BGCT congregations in their thinking. Many of them are well-read when it comes to denominational life. They see the influence peddling, the politics, and the personal kingdom building. You’d be surprised at how many people in my church are aware of the circumstances surrounding the creation research institute debacle at Baylor, and how many of them are aware that a few useful relationships allowed three guys in the Valley to split with $1.5 million of our sacrificially given tithes. You’d be even more surprised to know how many of them were aware, this past Sunday morning, that a Baylor football coach, drunk at the end of a bar in Waco, unzipped, exposed himself and urinated on the bar in public. They also know that Baylor is a BGCT institution that most of the current convention leadership has decided is a hill on which to die. And that’s enough to not even have to mention the BGCT’s endorsement of and participation in the New Baptist Covenant. Perception is often rooted in fact.
No doubt, the BGCT would have been much worse off than it is if the fundamentalist machine that took over the SBC had succeeded in gaining control. But there’s a big difference between being “better off than we would have been,” and simply being a lot better off. It’s time to trust Texas Baptists to clean up their own house, without telling them who needs to lead them in order to get it done. If they don’t wind up in Amarillo casting their ballot, they will do it through the Cooperative Program. Which would you rather have?