Several years ago, on a visit to Switzerland, I got to ride the Berner Oberland Bahn up to the Eiger glacier on the slopes of the magnificent Jungfrau, the “roof of Europe.” More snow and ice accumulate on the glacier each year than actually melts and runs off, but the runoff fills several lakes and rivers, providing hydroelectric power and a water supply that is one of the country’s greatest natural resources. During my visit, we swam in the Brienzersee, the Aare River as it runs through the town of Interlaken, and later on, the Thunersee. The Brienzersee is freezing cold, and your body never adjusts to the water temperature. The Aare River is also freezing, though not quite as cold. But a few miles downstream, the water empties into the Thunersee, which is larger, and further from the glacier, and while it is still not a warm body of water, is much more comfortable in which to swim. As the water flows, it is warmed by the sun and the earth.
In the past several days, I’ve observed some things, and read some things on blogs and in news reports that makes me think the relationship between the BGCT and the SBC may be warming up a bit. For a long time it has been a frozen glacier, with very little runoff. But there are some signs, from both sides, that the ice may be melting.
At the SBC meeting in Indianapolis, the M.E. Dodd Award was given to the pastor of a uniquely aligned BGCT congregation. Dr. David Dykes is pastor of the Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, which is the largest single contributing church to the SBC’s Cooperative Program. Considering that the BGCT has been virtually shut out of SBC leadership since the formation of the SBTC, this was certainly a sign of change in that relationship. Last year, Gary Dyer, pastor of First Baptist Church of Midland, which ranks third in Cooperative Program giving and is also uniquely affiliated with the BGCT, was appointed to the SBC’s committee on nominations.
David Lowrie reported on the BGCT breakfast at the convention this year. Unfortunately, I missed the gathering, but was glad to hear that our executive director, Dr. Randel Everett, was in Indianapolis for the SBC meeting. That is an encouraging sign to those of us who have been hoping for, and advocating for, a warming of relations between the two groups. Most of the BGCT’s churches have continued to support the SBC through the Cooperative Program, and that doesn’t appear to be changing. The historic ties between the two groups have been strong, and there is no reason they shouldn’t continue to be.
Ken Coffee, a retired BGCT executive, has suggested on his blog that the BGCT extend an invitation to the SBC’s newly elected president Johnny Hunt to address the BGCT in October. I think that is an excellent suggestion, and would be a great way to help melt a little bit more of the glacier. Along with that, he has suggested that the prohibition against Southwestern Seminary having an exhibit booth at the BGCT be lifted. That, too, is an excellent suggestion. I’ve never understood why such a petty and unproductive action has been taken by the BGCT.
When I attended the search committee listening session in Waco way back last summer, several of those in attendance expressed a desire that we select someone who would help end the “spitting contest” with the SBC. In dozens of responses and emails related to this blog, the overwhelming sentiment has been to express just that very thought. The ice is melting. The glacier is still there, and the river is cold, but it the longer it flows, the warmer it will get.