By David Roach
ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–Messengers offered 30 motions June 15 during the opening day of the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., including at least six related to the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report.
A motion by Jay Adkins of First Church in Westwego, La., to make public immediately the minutes and recordings of all GCRTF meetings was defeated on a show of ballots June 16. The task force had voted previously to seal its records for 15 years.
Adkins admitted during debate on his motion that “there are times when there needs to be privacy in delicate issues,” but he argued that the GCRTF proceedings should not be treated as a confidential matter.
“I just wonder, what better way could we as a body not come together but to then see the process by which you, as a diverse group of people, came together and made your consideration?” Adkins said.
Speaking against the motion, task force member R. Albert Mohler Jr. said unsealing the record now would cause the committee to break its promise of confidentiality to participants in the deliberation process.
“We invited persons to come meet with us, and we promised them confidentiality,” Mohler said. “In the course of those deliberations, of necessity we had to deal with some questions about personnel that are indeed legally privileged and are confidentiality covered and are matters of tremendous sensitivity.
“We would not have been able to have those conversations that were needful if we were not able to ensure confidentiality for a term to those we invited with us. This motion would require your task force to break its word to those we invited to come meet with us.”
James A. Smith, executive editor of the Florida Baptist Witness, spoke for the motion, arguing that “there is interest, I believe, in Southern Baptist life to now know today and in future weeks rather than in 15 years the deliberations this task force engaged in.”
But Greg Wills, professor of church history at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., pointed out that records of sensitive matters are customarily sealed for a period of time. He cited the SBC Peace Committee, the diary of Southern Seminary president William Whitsitt and transcripts of a 1958 Southern Seminary trustee committee as examples of temporarily sealed records.
Wills said opening the GCRTF records now would force future SBC committees to eschew audio recordings in order to preserve confidentiality and that such an action would impoverish the historical record.
“It may serve a short-term political agenda to unseal these records, but we will lose the history of our committees at the most critical moments of our convention life,” Wills said.
Motions referred to the Executive Committee included:
— that the Executive Committee study adjusting the CP allocation budget to give the International Mission Board 60 percent of CP funds, the North American Mission Board 25 percent, the six seminaries 10 percent and the Executive Committee and other entities 5 percent, submitted by Wesley Jones of Southern Hills Church in Sioux City, Iowa. The motion also challenged state conventions to move toward forwarding a minimum of 50 percent of CP funds to SBC causes and local churches to increase their giving through CP.
— that future SBC annual meeting sites “provide a meeting-long parking pass to be purchased by messengers and that the amount of the pass be published in advance,” submitted by Mitchell Minson of First Church in Lake Providence, La.
— that the convention consider any church affiliating with the Alliance of Baptists to be affirming, approving or endorsing homosexual behavior, submitted by Wes Kenney of Trinity Church in Valliant, Okla.
— that Article IV of the SBC Constitution be amended to require that on each board and committee 40 percent of members come from churches with fewer than 200 people in Sunday morning worship, 35 percent come from churches with between 200 and 1,000 and 25 percent come from churches with more than 1,000, submitted by Les Puryear of Lewisville Church in Lewisville, N.C.
— that the annual Book of Reports list for all members of boards and committees the names of their churches and the percentage of undesignated receipts their churches give through CP, submitted by Mike Stewart of Foothill Church in Los Altos, Calif.
— that Article V of the SBC Constitution be amended to require all convention officers to come from churches that contribute at least 10 percent of their undesignated receipts through CP, submitted by T.C. Pinkney of Good News Church in Alexandria, Va.
— that Article III of the SBC Constitution be amended to say that “among churches not in cooperation with the Convention are churches which act to affirm, approve, or endorse … racial discrimination,” submitted by Dwight McKissic, pastor of Cornerstone Church in Arlington, Texas.
— that the SBC adopt the “New US Christian Flag” as its official banner, submitted by Harold Phillips of Pleasant View Church in Port Deposit, Md.
— that the Executive Committee consider establishing Baptist Press as an entity of the SBC that has its own board of directors and is supported by funds currently allocated for BP within the Executive Committee budget, submitted by Marty King of Chatham Church in Chatham, Ill.
— that “no state convention or Southern Baptist CP-supported/salaried employee shall serve as a trustee or director to SBC entities,” submitted by Kent Cochran of Calvary Church in Republic, Mo.
— that Article III of the SBC Constitution be amended to allow designated giving to SBC causes to figure into a church’s eligibility for sending messengers to the annual meeting, submitted by Andrew Higginbotham, pastor of South Kansas City Church in Kansas City, Mo.
— that the Executive Committee explore the possibility of holding SBC meetings every other year instead of every year in order to save money, submitted by Daniel Palmer of New Covenant Fellowship in Raleigh, N.C.
— that the Resolutions Committee post online the resolutions it will propose no fewer than five days before the annual meeting, submitted by Suzanne Phillips of King’s Church in Vero Beach, Fla.
A motion by Bill Wood of Tallowood Church in Houston, Texas, that the convention adopt guidelines for publicly stating positions on political issues “of a partisan nature” was referred to the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
A motion by Channing Kilgore of South Whitwell Church in Whitwell, Tenn., that “LifeWay trustees reconsider the validity of selling the erroneous and/or heretical books of T.D. Jakes, ’90 Minutes in Heaven’ by Don Piper, and ‘The Shack’ by William Young” was referred to LifeWay Christian Resources.
A motion by Bruce Shortt of North Oaks Church in Spring, Texas, that the North American Mission Board be asked to develop “an intentional strategy … for expanding all forms of Christian K through 12 education,” including private school and home school, was referred to NAMB.
Twelve motions were ruled out of order by SBC President Johnny Hunt, acting on the recommendation of the Committee on Order of Business.
Four of the motions were ruled out of order because they pertained to the GCRTF report but were offered when the report was not on the floor.
— a motion to change the definitions of Cooperative Program and Great Commission giving, submitted by Ron Wilson of Wynnbrook Church in Columbus, Ga.
— a motion to register on the Annual Church Profile money that churches dedicate to direct missions and church planting efforts, submitted by Tommy Ferrell, pastor of Briarlake Church in Decatur, Ga.
— a motion requesting that the GCRTF define the terms “missional” and “contextual evangelism,” submitted by Keith Eitel of Birchman Church in Fort Worth, Texas.
— a motion requesting that recommendation seven of the GCRTF report be considered separately from the rest of the recommendations, submitted by Carl Dillow of First Church in Grand Tower, Ill.
Eight additional motions were ruled out of order. They included motions:
— that the IMB modify its appointment process to allow missionaries to fund themselves for one year when there is a shortage of denominational funds to support them, submitted by Mike Janz, pastor of First Church in Rosamond, Calif.
— that the SBC hold a solemn assembly July 25, 2010, submitted by Dan Biser, pastor of Zoar Church in Augusta, W.Va.
— that GCRTF members disqualify themselves from serving in “appointed, elected or commissioned” denominational positions in the coming year, submitted by Tim Jones of Britt David Church in Columbus, Ga.
— that the SBC express appreciation for the Acts 29 Fellowship, submitted by Joshua Shank of Youngstown Metro Church in Youngstown, Ohio.
— that the Resolutions Committee consider a resolution opposing racism, submitted by Brian Sandifer of Oakley Church in Siler City, N.C.
— that the six seminaries consider making a 10-week church planting internship a graduation requirement, submitted by Paul Kim of Berkland Church in Cambridge, Mass.
— that the North American Mission Board move its main office “to a strategically located city outside the South,” submitted by Tim Shrader of First Church in Litchfield, Ill.
— that all educational institutions represented in the SBC exhibit hall be required to present proof “of a creation science emphasis in their science department and an inerrant theological stand in their theological department,” submitted by Harold Phillips of Pleasant View Church in Port Deposit, Md.
David Roach is a writer and pastor in Shelbyville, Ky.