Wade Burleson, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church of Enid, Oklahoma, member of the SBC’s IMB Board of Trustees, and blogger, has been censured by the rest of the board. The stated reason is that he violated board policy by reporting, in his blog, on actions taken at trustee meetings.
Yeah, I did a double take on that one, too, especially when I read that the trustee who made the motion, Jerry Corbaley, a California pastor, submitted a letter that took up 153 pages of cyberspace. I read Corbaley’s letter, the motion made to the trustees and the portions of Wade’s blog that were cited as backup evidence, and I could not see that he violated any board policy, at least, not the ones that were cited. Apparently, considering the comments out there in cyberspace related to this action, there are not very many Southern Baptists who can see it either, so we are at the very least in good company.
As disagreeable as the board’s action may be, there is a proper way to respond to it. Taking down the Lottie Moon offering is not the proper way. The trustees receive no benefit from that offering, and witholding funds only hurts those on the mission field, who have nothing to do with the trustee actions, but who live in fear of these things happening because they know what the reaction will be.
There are several things that we can do to properly respond to the trustees.
1. Flood their email inboxes with emails telling them that their decision was wrong, and that an overwhelming majority of Southern Baptists disagree with it, and want it undone immediately.
2. Make plans to attend the convention in Indianapolis, and vote for whatever motions are introduced to tell the board that their action doesn’t represent the views of the majority of Southern Baptists. This is where our system breaks down. We have a cumbersome, old fashioned way of doing business, requiring the expense of sending messengers to wherever the convention happens to be meeting in order for them to vote. The prevailing attitude is “Why go to all that trouble? It’s already cut and dried.” But in fact, it is not. From the response that has developed over the past few days, if the Southern Baptists who are not happy with the board’s decision would just go to Indianapolis, and take some messengers from their church with them, they would easily have the numbers to do whatever they wanted.
3. Nominate, and elect Wade Burleson as President of the Southern Baptist Convention.
4. I suppose that motions of “no confidence” in the board could be brought, or that, if enough messengers went along with it, the board could individually be unseated and a new board elected. But those things have negative connotations and should be saved for the extreme.
Using the Lottie Moon offering, or your church’s Cooperative Program giving to punish a trustee board for its lack of accountability is not effective, and it hurts people who are not even involved.