Several others did live blogging from the BGCT. I took notes on how they did it and perhaps I’ll give it a shot down the road. So I will focus on the stuff that came my way today.
Charles Wade is retiring, and this is his last convention. There was a video tribute which I thought was very well done, he received a standing ovation from the convention following the video and following his address later on, which I thought was one of his best, and one of his most challenging to the messengers. There was a reception tonight, which I attended, got in line, and wished him God’s blessings and the best. The Executive Board named him Executive Director Emeritus. That’s a pretty clear signal that the BGCT is ready to move on. We are moving on with 5,700 churches and a $50 million budget which is a whole lot more than a lot of people expected us to have at this point.
Joy Fenner won the presidency by 60 votes. Joy, as I have stated here repeatedly, will be a great president. It was a win-win situation going in, which I also stated previously. The closeness of the vote was also a message. Almost half, 49%, of the messengers voted for a candidate who did not have a political organization backing him up, and who ran a campaign on the idea of moving the BGCT back to the center, and of clearing up the relationship with the SBC. A significant number of messengers caught that message, came to the convention and voted for it. The closeness of the vote, which could have been reversed by gathering up a few messengers in the hallway from among the 300 or so who didn’t cast a ballot, will insure that the changes David Lowrie was advocating will be heard.
My own run for office accomplished exactly what I indended for it to accomplish. I ran because I thought someone should run. I had no illusions going in that I would win against Michael Massar. Michael is someone I would have voted for myself. The announcement that I would be nominated was made less than a week ago. With the irregularities that sometimes occur in FVP and SVP elections in Baptist conventions, such as people leaving the hall, not turning in ballots, or not knowing either candidate and just marking a spot because of a nominating speech or the sound of a name, I would have been happy with 15% of the vote. I got 21%.
I did learn a few things from the experience. It is definitely out of my comfort zone to consider running for office in a Baptist convention. It’s just not me. It’s not my personality, and I don’t believe it is my calling. Now, I’ve had the experience, it might be good party talk, and that will be it.
Ah, do I dare move forward with a discussion of the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant?
I spent a good part of the day conversing with committee members about the way to approach making a motion. I’ve listened to a lot of advice on this, which I have appreciated, including Kaylor’s and BDW’s comments. And I want to say, first of all, that I made my own decision on this. My sole intention with this issue from the very beginning has been to open up a channel of expression and communication on the convention floor so that those who have objections to the BGCT’s participation can express their objections. This would also open up a channel of communication for those who are participating and fully supporting the event to respond with the facts in order to get beyond the speculation caused by the involvement of high profile politicians. It was a difficult challenge, given the fact that the BGCT has already approved the relationship with the North American Baptist Fellowship, to word a motion or a resolution that would do that in accordance with the rules.
I decided not to bring the motion. Ultimately, the event is still in the future. It is awkward and difficult to figure out how to bring a motion, either positively or negatively, when the event in question has not actually taken place and the concerns are based on one perspective. If it becomes what it’s critics are suggesting, then a motion at next year’s convention to correct the BGCT’s position would easily pass with evidence in hand.
I will always be an advocate for “parity” which I really call “unity.” We criticize the conservative resurgence in the SBC for their majority rules, minority loses attitude, and for their manipulation of convention processes which allow them to maintain control. What do we accomplish when we do the same thing? And what Kingdom purposes are served by Baptist Wars over positions that were meant to be voluntary servanthood?