I received a warm welcome to the Texas Panhandle this afternoon, when I stepped through the doors of the convention hall in downtown Amarillo and registered as a messenger for the BGCT. I’ve passed through Amarillo a few times in my life, most recently in 1990 on our way from Missouri to Arizona for Christmas. Yeah, the scenery is, well, flat, and there
I like the Sunday afternoon convention registration. I walked into the convention hall at 4:50 and was out before five, mainly because I stopped to talk along the way. I noticed the messenger count was already over 400 at that hour, so I am hoping we have a good turnout.
I wanted to post a few notes about the next couple of days.
The Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant (NBC) Motion
After discussing this with several individuals who have looked at parliamentary proceedure and the BGCT constitution for me, I have decided that the best way to approach this is in the form of a resolution. That will accomplish the desired result, which is to give this convention a way of expressing their view on the BGCT participation, and can be worded to very specifically state the issue. A motion would not do that, and would be difficult to word in such a way that is consistent with consitutitional proceedure. A resolution opens the floor to discussion, as much, if not more, than a motion would do. My desire is to get this to the floor for a vote, so that the support, or lack thereof, for the BGCT’s participation in the NBC is visible. I’ve been told that, under the existing rules, the proper channels have been followed, so a motion to prevent BGCT participation would not do that, even if it passed.
Does this mean that we will have to take a vote on every single meeting the BGCT may want to participate in down the road? No. I doubt that there will be very many meetings, with high profile secular politicians leading them, that will come up. The BGCT belongs to everyone who participates in its cooperative ministry. We partner with several organizations, and, like it or not, some of them stir controversy, particularly the SBC and CBF. The issue that many people have is that when the BGCT does something high profile, and people in the communit know which churches support the BGCT, the automatically associate those churches with whatever the BGCT has done. We need to be sensistive to that.
I believe a confidence vote on the executive board is in order. I’m still hoping that we will hear more about this at this convention. We’ve had too little communication and response regarding this, and while I don’t believe the board is intentionally attempting to sweep it all under the rug, I think they have left us with that impression and appearance. I’ve said before, and I will say again, I do not want to see bridges burned. I want to see the tent of convention leadership broadened, but if we truly believe what Peter said about treating those who disagree with us with gentleness and respect, that is what we must do.
We are a convention that exists for cooperative missions. “Together we can do more, Together we can do more missions,” are not just slogans to me. We can. I understand that we must be good stewards of our resources, and they are anticipated to decline at the moment, resulting in job layoffs in the Baptist Building. I’m torn between making budget motions to undo those layoffs, and accepting the fact that we must. But if we are going to do more missions, we need to make the missions department of the convention the last resort of job cuts, not the first. I believe we will hear a lot about this over the next two days.
I did not know any of those who are losing their jobs personally. However, I have used convention services provided by at least two of these individuals, and I must say, they went well beyond the call of duty to make sure that I was provided with everything I needed. At the very least, I want those people to know that their service was deeply appreciated, and that if there is anything that can be done at the convention to help, it will be done.
The BGCT will move forward from Amarillo. The ministry world that is out there is rapidly changing, the paradigms are shifting, and I am not certain that, as a convention, we are prepared for that. We need to focus on making our convention relevant to the churches that support it, the ministries it supports, and particularly to reaching and involving those under 50 who are so conspicuously absent from our convention meetings.
Discussion is healthy, and disagreement among Baptists is legendary, especially when it focuses on our conventions and institutions. There has been discussion on blogs of various actions which may or may not take place at the convention. One of the great things about putting ideas out there, or situtations, and discussing them, is that they get turned over, considered, reconsidered, and some translate into action while others don’t.
Marv Knox, in his most recent editorial in the Standard, makes reference to this here:
There have indeed been discussions about these issues, motions, and what to do. There is a lot of frustration out there, and some of it goes deeper than just the issues at hand. When people have been involved together in things like this, over a period of time, feelings do tend to run deep.
Personally, I have not detected any real vindictiveness. Frustration, yes. Vindictiveness, no. Perhaps it is there, and I cannot see it. What I have seen in discussions is one course of action proposed, the possibilities discussed, and alternatives put forth to avoid burning bridges and appearing vindictive.
There are two things that we must take into the highest consideration when we approach meetings such as this. First, we are a Christian organization, and we must behave as Christians should. That is of the utmost importance, even more so since people tend to lump us together with other groups that do sometimes exhibit vindictiveness. Second, as we head into the future, resources are extremely important, and we need to make absolutely certain that we do not push churches and the church leaders who come to the convention to take action which would decrease their financial support for the convention. If they chose to do that, fine, but we should not be handing them their rationale to do so.
I will say it again, do not burn bridges. With anyone.
Blogging from the Convention Floor
I would love to be able to have this ability. At Willow Creek a few weeks ago, logging on to the conference site and responding as things were happening was great. All my notes were cut and pasted into word documents by the time I left the conference.
We have been told that the per-session price for internet access in the convention hall is $35. Over here at the hotel, it’s free. I’ll post in the morning, and then in the afternoon. That means my wrap-up will not appear until Wednesday.