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 Show/Hide Advanced Toolbar (Alt+v)

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are few trees.  It’s amazing that you can get in a car and drive 11 hours from Houston, where the humidity chokes you and you can’t see how flat it is because of the woods, and spanish moss grows from the trees to Amarillo, which is on the great plains and on the edge of the desert.

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.

Valleygate

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. 

Budget

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.

Moving Forward

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.

Behaving

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:

http://www.baptiststandard.com/postnuke/index.php?module=htmlpages&func=display&pid=6983

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.

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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.

19 responses

  1. Dylan says:

    Hey, Lee! I think if you will recall, I made the suggestion that you run for First VP a couple of weeks, and several articles ago. I think you thought I was just joking then, but I really wasn’t.
    I hope you get elected.

    As far as helping to make the convention relevant to those “under 50,” I’m not sure that can be done. The convention method of doing things requires commitment to denominational “distinctives” and loyalites. I can’t point to specific demographics, but the non-denominationally affiliated churches I’ve gone to in the past couple of years are much younger, in terms of the participants, than Baptist churches. Those Baptist churches I’ve been to that have more or less distanced themselves from convention identity and operate like a non-denominational congregation are full of younger people. You’ve got a couple of great examples there in the Houston area I’m sure.

    We see the value of cooperating together in missions. You can do more together than you can do alone, that’s for sure, but younger congregations are looking toward a lot more hands on, short term kinds of things, rather than investing in the long term expense of keeping missionaries on the field. The short term experiences allow the indigenous populations to be reached and trained, and they become missionaries on their own. The connections between churches here and there are much less expensive to maintain in situations like that. But in a convention model, you have a lot of rules and restrictions because the money becomes “everyones” and then so do the interests.

    Start a thread, and I’ll see if I can get some people to join in and give you some ideas.

  2. Chuck says:

    Lee,

    I hope and pray the messengers will discuss the NBC resolution, and consider the THEOLOGICAL difficulties that President Carter brings along, not just the POLITICAL inuendos.

    Central to all our cooperative efforts with other bodies under the banner “Baptist” must be a clear gospel message, including the essential element of the exclusivity of Jesus Christ to save. Jimmy Carter, at best, clouds that in reports of his recent interviews. Worst, and at face value, his statements are pluralistic–something clearly against the BGCT’s stated and re-stated (in response to the Charles Kimball-CLC furor) stance.

    There are other Texas Baptists who share my concerns, among them at least one pastor who will attempt to lead his church away from the BGCT if the NBC push continues.

  3. Lee says:

    Chuck,
    My resolution will include the statement that the BGCT’s participation in the NBC will not constitute either a political or doctrinal endorsement of anything that may come out of it. It is pretty much a foregone conclusion that they are going to participate, that can’t be stopped, but as a body, we can resolve to maintain our independence and autonomy and clearly state that we are not endorsing anything that the BGCT as a body has not previously agreed to from a doctrinal perspective.

    Our official doctrinal statement is the 1963 Baptist Faith and Message, a document which I believe is a better one than the 2000 document, especially in situations like this.

    If you are planning to be here for the convention, please speak up, your voice needs to be heard.

  4. Kaylor says:

    Lee: It is called the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant not the National Baptist Covenant (although the various National Baptist bodies will be a part of it). It may seem like a minor detail but the fact that you cannot even get something as simple as the name correct suggests that you may not spent enough effort to learn much about the Celebration. It is a much needed effort in Baptist life. Do let Chuck misguide you about Carter or the Celebration; I’ve corrected him elsewhere but here is a column that does so (http://www.ethicsdaily.com/article_detail.cfm?AID=8985).

  5. Brian!

    You spilled the beans. I do hope Lee has already submitted his resolution against the National Baptist Covenant. Now, wouldn’t that be a hoot?

  6. I didn’t read this close enough but would like an answer.

    Chuck is a frequent commenter over at my blog. Lee often posts as well. Here on Lee’s blog – Chuck writes a comment and then Lee responds to Chuck’s comment but under the name CHUCK.

    This has led me and others to question whether Chuck and Lee are the same two people?

    A response Lee or Chuck?

  7. Lee says:

    Chuck and Lee are not the same two people. How that happened, I cannot tell you, but it has been corrected.

    If either Kaylor or Big Daddy Weave notice, their blogs are linked to this one. I read them frequently, I agree with a considerable amount of what they have to say, and I think the “Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant,” which is exactly how I worded it on the resolution I turned in, is probably the only thing I’ve disagreed about with either of you.

    Frankly, my attitude regarding the celebration is “let’s wait and see what transpires.” The fact that Jimmy Carter is the principle organizer, and Bill Clinton and Al Gore are involved is obviously to publicize the event, which it most certainly did, and of course, raised the cry of partisan political motivation which prompted the addition of prominent Republican Baptists as well. Whether that achieved balance or not, I don’t know. But I doubt that the makeup of the meeting will be such that any kind of political statement will come out of it.

    My concern is that there are individuals and churches in the BGCT who are concerned about both political statements and doctrinal issues. Carter has unquestionably made statements that, while they may represent his own personal convictions, would raise concerns about his compatibility with a majority of Baptists. So, there are people raising objections.

    Since the BGCT is participating in this gathering as a sponsor, and there are individuals and churches in the BGCT that are raising concerns, they at least need to be heard. Kaylor and BDW are advocating the idea that those who raise objections to it shouldn’t have a voice. That sounds like more of a fundamentalist approach to me.

    One other thing. You two guys are young, and you’re in school, and I can identify with your enthusiasm. Your arrogance and elitism, however, have no place in the ministry. You are both obviously intelligent, and dedicated to a cause, but your smug put downs and barbed criticism are not points in your favor and they do not earn you credibility. Doing that puts you in the same category with some of the fundamentalists in the SBC resurgence. You’ll get a lot more respect, especially from those who disagree with you, if you treat them with gentleness and respect instead of condescension and contempt.

  8. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

    Don’t worry Lee, I have not been victorious in all of my endeavors either. I’ve been thumped before. But those who confuse sarcasm for condescension and contempt will never appreciate the Big Daddy Weave’s of the blogosphere.

    You don’t have a “wait and see” attitude, Lee.

    Don’t insult the intelligence of those who read your blog on a regular basis. Comments that you have made indicate your true feelings about any event in which elected officials are involved.

    We disagree. And disagree strongly. I believe that your naive vision for the future of Texas Baptists would open the floodgates to unbound fundamentalism. You call it parity. I see your parity as a threat to all free and faithful Baptists who reside in the great state of Texas.

    Clearly, the majority of messengers disagreed with you about at least a few things regarding the direction of the BGCT? Correct?

    But to dismiss Brian and I as mere Phd students with alot to learn is a cop out to say the least. Perhaps it’s time Lee that you and your band of dissenters to begin listening to the young voices within Texas Baptist life who truly want to connect with the Global Baptist Community. Isolation ain’t our thing. As the overused 80s song goes, we are the world, we are the future.

    And by the way, you may not be Chuck. But you two sure do sound alike. A coincidence it is indeed, huh!

  9. Lane says:

    Do I need to quote 1 Tim 4:12? “Do not let others look down upon you because you are young.” This is a message both to those who are young and to those who are older.

    BDW is right- sarcasm is not the same as condescension. Your comments have been on par with BDW’s voice at the least, if not more so. And have Chuck’s, who you have not chastised for his attitude. Therefore since you also mentioned the age of BDW and Kaylor, then I must assume it is that which you have issue with. It is not kingdom building to dismiss the next generation as irrelevant and their voice unimportant simply because of their age. Where is the line? What IS the age at which we “young people” are allowed a voice in this denomination?

    As a young adult, as a MESSENGER to BGCT annual meeting, my church has put faith in me that my voice matters and can be representative of our voice in the BGCT. It violates our fundamental Baptist belief in competency of the soul and freedom of the believer (all believers, each and every one of them) for you to say that age (and the enthusiasm, passion, and unique voice of those who are young) is some kind of limitation to our ministry.

    I know a lot of young adults who are incredibly invigorated about the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant. IT IS DRAWING THEM BACK IN TO BAPTIST LIFE. Why? Because many of my generation DID live through the Baptist wars, during our formative faith years, and we saw our churches disintegrate. And some of us walked away, because we couldn’t believe that there was anything good about being Baptist. That there was any relevancy to be found in the midst of the infighting. But many remained interested in pursuing an active Christian life, in following Jesus. The Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant provides these same young people an opportunity to be relevant with their Christian witness to the WORLD. Its giving them a little hope that Baptists might be about more than conflict, and might instead be about peace and reconciliation, about justice and mercy, about so much more than abortion, gay marriage, and prayer in schools. The Celebration allows Baptists to come together from all over North America, with the support of Baptists all over the world, and work together in ways not yet explored. Then those same Baptists can come back to their home state, can come back to Texas, and plug in and support ministries here.

    The BGCT supporting the New Baptist Covenant is a good thing because it speaks to a future generation of Baptist leaders that the BGCT is something worth sticking around for, that we aren’t isolated out here in Texas, separating ourselves from partnerships (such as the SBC has done). It helps us know that we can follow Christ, share the Gospel, change the world, bring the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in Heaven, and do that all with the name Baptists. That may make us elitist… it definitely makes us idealists. But we have the enthusiasm and the energy to put the effort into actually effecting change, and the fields are ripe for the harvest. LET US GO OUT! Please stop hindering our desire to work with others, not apart from them.

  10. Scuba Man says:

    WOW! I have read some pretty mean things in BLOGS B4, but some of this takes the cake, huh? Come on guys, we are all Christian brothers, so where is the spirit of kindness and Agape love? Just curious.

  11. Chuck says:

    Lee,

    You and I are obviously not the same person. I am very much a conservative, appreciate the SBC resurgence, and am perhaps a fundamentalist according to D.R.’s academic comparison of evangelicalism with fundamentalism.

    But, I have found you to balance your personal views with a willingness to listen to others–like me. I appreciate someone like you who believes that to be “authentic Baptist,” one cannot interpret scripture just any old way he feels–even to the point of embracing other paths to God.

    Kaylor and BDW have shown on this post that, indeed, “New Baptists” have a funda-moderate mean streak in them, and require 100% allegiance to the BWA-Carter mantra.

    I don’t know why they sound so mad and gleeful at the same time. I respect you for putting your name on the line with such short notice. 20% was a good showing considering there was no time to get your name or your thoughts out.

    Remember from a while back, my friend, what we disagreed on–TBC does run things.

  12. Chuck says:

    Kaylor,

    I sure appreciate your above words to Lee, “Do let Chuck misguide you about Carter or the Celebration.” Lee should let me misguide him about which one, Carter or the Celebration?

    🙂 Just a simple mistake, Brian, like we all make. Funny though, that your slip came in the same paragraph (you probably should have divided the comment into two paragraphs) as your not-so-thoughtful ribbing of Lee for his NBC slip.

    And, BDW, it’s “like Brian and me,” not “like Brian and I.”

    Old guys like Lee and me have an excuse. How about you young’uns?

  13. Chuck says:

    BDW,

    Oops, there I go again! The Geritol’s not kickin’ in. I must correct my own erroneous correction of your slip.

    It’s not “to dismiss Brian and I,” it’s “to dismiss Brian and me.” Which, incidently, sounds like a good idea.

    Lol. Just kidding. You’re a good guy, especially when it comes to your field of expertise–the college football field.

  14. Chuck says:

    Kaylor,

    So that I may best continue to misguide Lee, let me remind you that I corrected you lastly and thusly in regards to Carter’s reported pluralist statements:

    “Your referenced article from late May doesn’t address Carter’s reported pluralist statements from earlier that same month. They were either too new or too difficult to defend. You focused rather on Mohler’s semantics argument and others’ wild accusations regarding abortion and such.”

  15. Lee says:

    I think, if you will read my post again, you will see that I did not put BDW or Kaylor down as “mere” Ph.D. students or because they are young. I pointed out that their enthusiasm and dedication to their cause was a result of their youthfulness. I pointed out that I read their blogs, and that I frequently agree with them, and I think, if you will look at that record, you will see that to be the case. I spent the first 30 years of my working life in discipleship and equipping ministry to high school and middle school students. Even though I have been in a ministry with adults for the past year and a half, I still serve youth missions projects in the summer, with the hope that those experiences will lead them to follow God’s call in their life. I did not intend to put you down because you were young, and if you felt that way, please accept my apology.

    Lane, nothing would please me more than for the Celebration in Atlanta to bring an army of younger people back into the Baptist fold, and into the churches and the ministry. If you care to point out somewhere in my blog where my comments have tended toward the sarcastic, or have had somewhat of an edge on them, I will be willing to acknowledge responsibility for those words, and apologize to you if you were offended. It is not my intention to put people down, call them names, or be sarcastic. It came off as a bit arrogant to me when Kaylor pointed out that I called the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant the National Baptist Covenant. I had just driven 11 hours from Houston, battling a stomach virus, and it probably wasn’t a good idea to blog at that point. It just struck me as a bit over the edge for BDW to point out what a “hoot” it would have been had I submitted that to the committee. Was that really necessary?

    I know what it feels like to be “kicked to the curb.” I also know how it feels to harbor bitterness and anger toward the ones who did the kicking, and how to be a sharp tongued critic of them. So, if you feel I have done that to you, I ask for your forgiveness. That has never been my intention.

  16. Lee says:

    O.K. In all fairness–
    Chuck,
    Your views are welcome here, as are those of Kaylor, BDW and Lane, and anyone else who posts here.

    Cool the sarcasm. It’s not helping.

  17. Kaylor says:

    Lee: Sorry if I came off too harsh, but I am tired of the misguided and inaccurate attacks on the Celebration on the blogosphere, which ironically actually prove why it is desperately needed. Lane captured why I am enthusiastic about the Celebration.

    Chuck: Seriously, man, if you don’t want to go to the Celebration that is fine but please stop trolling the blogs so you can blast it whenever it comes up. You are free to your opinion but you need to stop making false claims. I am tired of responding to your junk claims about Carter, but I’ll do it again because you are wrong. There is a very clear record as I have pointed out that shows Carter is not a pluralist. Whenever there are contradictory reports we must consider the credibility of them, instead of blindly accepting the ones we want to believe. The Newsweek report about Carter and Judaism not only goes against all other accounts about and from Carter, but is unreliable. It is a third-hand account and one of those involved (the Rabbi) is unable to substantiate it. Thus, to continue to use that is irresponsible and falls into the area of gossip, which is condemned in the Bible. You once wrote that you would never refer to that again, yet you keep bringing it up. Why will you not honor your word? I don’t agree with much from Carter or especially Clinton, but that’s okay. We can gather together anyway. God’s people–especially Baptists–have been hopelessly divided and we must come together for the sake of the Gospel. I wish you could see that. The Celebration will not solve our problems, but it will help.

  18. Chuck says:

    Kaylor,

    I’ll reply to you on another blog, since we’re way off topic here.

  19. Chuck says:

    Kaylor,

    I’ve replied to your last comment on BDW’s “Amarillo disaster” post.