From the June 26 edition of A Rancher’s Rumblings, by Texas Baptists Committed director David Currie:

Last year, TBC decided to not endorse candidates for BGCT office, because some people had expressed a perception that we were “controlling” the process. Although we at TBC never intended to exercise any control over the process, I understood this perception, and I agreed with the decision to not endorse any candidates.

But now I have a huge concern about this decision. Without TBC’s leadership, will the BGCT continue to share, or will we get into combative elections between churches that support SBC ministries vs. persons who support CBF ministries vs. persons who are mostly just Texas-focused? And will there still be a place of leadership for women, as well as people from minority ethnic groups?

Friends, the key to our unity in the future is SHARED leadership. Will this happen without TBC leading the way through endorsements? I hope so, but it scares me that we could easily get divided after coming so far as a state convention. We could wind up right back where we started, with all of our leaders coming from one group, and with minorities and women being left out. Shared leadership doesn’t just happen – it has to be intentional. That’s where TBC’s leadership has made a difference in recent years – by providing an intentional plan to share leadership.

I can’t say that I see anything which would ring alarm bells and signal that the BGCT is in some kind of danger of a fundamentalist takeover.  Maybe David Currie’s information regarding the committee appointments of the current BGCT officers includes some individuals he considers “red flags” with regard to who might wind up on the boards or committees.  Considering the way committee appointments are made, and the fact that the other two officers have input, I don’t see that anything of that sort could happen.  David Lowrie did promise, prior to both times he ran for BGCT President, that he would open the committee appointments and bring in as many new faces as he could.  I would guess that he has probably had some limited success in accomplishing that. 

The idea that only TBC is qualified or capable of coming up with an “intentional” plan to share BGCT leadership just doesn’t hold water, unless your idea of “intentional” is to make sure that the same people get appointed to committees and boards over and over, that your former endorsed officers (and TBC board members) are rewarded with executive leadership positions in the Baptist Building, and that your supporters can serve on more than one committee at a time.  It is also hard for me to understand that concept of shared leadership when over 700 churches are automatically excluded because they are dually affiliated with another in-state Baptist body, and others which have remained loyal in their support of the SBC are under-represented, compared to those who come from CBF-friendly churches.  Shared, apparently, doesn’t mean equally shared. 

There comes a time, in the life of most political organizations, when they either accomplish their goals, or the issues have moved beyond where their vision is focused.  Beyond a certain point, they begin to look more like a clique with the power to grant favors to friends and supporters than a champion of Baptist diversity, autonomy and historical principles.  Texas Baptists do not need to be told how to share their leadership and they especially do not need to be shown the door if they happen not to share the view of the prevailing power clique.  The intentional efforts that now need to be made involve finding a way to engage younger church leaders in the convention and most of them are not going to wait around for someone’s best school buddy, or some prominent preacher’s son, to get tired of having their name in the paper and their rear end in a committee or board seat. 

Genuinely shared leadership would occur if every vacant committee and board seat were filled with someone who has never been involved in convention leadership.  They’ll have plenty of time to learn the ropes in the eight or twelve years they would serve, and then they could step away and share the leadership with someone else who hasn’t  yet had the opportunity to contribute.  If the focus is on the mission and vision of the convention, instead of making sure that the hand-picked, approved individuals are in the right places, all the worries of conflict, politics, exclusion and “fundamentalist takeovers” will dissipate.

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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.

12 responses

  1. Glenn says:

    Every year, more and more people start ignoring what David Currie has to say. The sooner you get on the “ignore Currie” bandwagon, the better off you’ll be.

  2. Lee says:

    In the process of finding a way to encourage pastors to get their members to Houston in November, and support the constitutional amendments I plan to propose, which will spread the leadership responsibility around, open up the committees and boards to include a much larger segment of the BGCT’s constituency, and prevent organized groups from controlling the offices, boards and committees, I could not have come up with a better way of motivating people than the quote from A Rancher’s Rumblings above. Actually, I hadn’t read the piece until someone tipped me off in an email, and offered the suggestion that it might be very useful in explaining exactly why we need to amend the constitution with regard to state convention leadership.

    Currie led a movement to counter the influence of the SBC’s “conservative resurgence” in Texas, and prevent the BGCT from being taken over and controlled by a group that he, and many other Texas Baptists, perceived would bring divisive denominational politics that would damage or destroy the entities and agencies of the BGCT, or alter them in such a way as to limit their effectiveness. They’ve claimed success in that venture, though I would have to say, in light of the formation of a second state convention and the subsequent exodus of a third of the BGCT’s churches, and more than a third of its former Cooperative Program revenue, and the continued exodus of churches at a rate of about 50 every quarter-year, it is somewhat of a limited success. In the process, many of the organization’s board members and leaders have claimed jobs in the state convention or its entities, or hold seats on the executive board, trustee boards or committees that operate the convention.

    Most of all, in spite of the bitter rhetoric that comes from their publications and their leadership regarding the SBC and its leadership, all but perhaps 200 BGCT churches have remained uniquely affiliated, and financially loyal, to the SBC. In the last couple of years, in spite of Currie’s warnings and admonitions, relationships between the BGCT and the SBC have warmed considerably. A pastor of a church uniquely affiliated with, and warmly supportive of, the SBC came within 60 votes of defeating TBC’s endorsed and heavily promoted candidate, without any organization of his own, and then was elected to the position the following year.

    There are those who are tempted to make this personal, and some already have. That’s not necessary, and it doesn’t help. But I think the time has come when the circumstances that led to the formation of TBC no longer exist, and that its mission and purpose are out of step with the way things are. Change happens. That’s where we are now.

  3. rick davis says:

    A body without power does not collect money. If the last power you have is the power to help select largely ceremonial officers, you don’t have the power to collect money.

    TBC decided not to endorse officers last year because they were afraid to lose. They would have lost. That is clear.

    There is still a struggle going on in Texas for the future of the BGCT. TBC both overplayed its hand and outlived its usefulness. Now there is a power vacuum and, as ever, nature abhors a vacuum.

  4. KGray says:

    Does money – church contributions – play a role in committee selections? If so, is it an official or unofficial role? Is it a factor?

  5. Lee says:

    KGray,
    I’m sure it does. There is a sliding scale of CP giving vs. membership related to the number of messengers a church can have at the annual meeting.

    There are several churches which have multiple members on committees and boards, and they tend to be from those churches which are considered to be “very supportive” of the BGCT, and I take that to mean in terms of dollars. The logic is that those who are financially supportive are entitled to more leadership than those who don’t give quite as much because of the “vested interest,” but in an organization where the cooperation is voluntary, and where churches can exclude the SBC completely, or limit their contribution and still count it all as CP giving toward their messenger total, it is skewed toward those who are less supportive of the SBC.

  6. Colby Evans says:

    From Currie’s blog:
    “with all of our leaders coming from one group,”

    Seems like TBC’s endorsement of officer candidates, and the subsequent appointment of TBC insiders to the executive board, committees and trustee boards of the BGCT is doing this exact thing.

  7. KGray says:

    Sort of like shareholders, I guess, though I’m not sure how that relates to the spiritual gifts of leadership, wisdom, knowledge, etc..

  8. Chuck says:

    If you read Currie enough, you realize that he and his followers have a view of “success” that only requires preservation of the control status quo. The “quo” can be as small, or shrinking as dramatically, as can be, but the “status” remains as long as the evil conservatives don’t win any elections.

    It was TBC’s agenda that led to the 1998 messenger system change, the adoption of which was followed twenty minutes later by the official start of the SBTC. It was Currie who called for a full curriculum-publishing arm of the BGCT, instead of the “supplemental literature” called for in the Effectiveness and Efficiency study.

  9. Tim Dahl says:

    Hey Lee,

    When are you going to post something else. I feel incomplete w/out something to read from this little spot of the blogosphere.
    😉
    Tim

  10. Lee says:

    Sorry, I’ve been in Missouri for the past eleven days on a mission trip, and just haven’t had time to blog. I’ll be back soon.

  11. rick davis says:

    I admire your pluck. Your amendments will be ruled out of order or some other parliamentary trick will be played. You will be smiled out the door.

    There is no changing them, so there is no saving them. This is what I have decided. They are going to protect themselves to death. There is nothing to be done but protect what we can, if we can.

  12. Lee says:

    I’m hoping to head that possibility off at the pass, so to speak. Dr. Lowrie will be the chair, which means that the chance of heavy handed parliamentary maneuvering will be much reduced. An attorney with a long pedigree of parliamentary experience has volunteered to help pursue avenues to make certain the motions are at least put on the floor for a vote.

    The key will still be having enough people there to make it happen. Many people have offered encouragement, and a number of them have committed to be there with as many messengers as they can get their church to send, mostly from the Houston area. But I am hearing from many people who are saying much the same thing as you. They are saying that saving the BGCT is not possible, or not worth the effort, and they are moving on.

    😦