ROME – As the result of a recent controversy over whether or not college board members should be selected by the church, Shorter College cut its ties with the Georgia Baptist Convention.
The dispute was the latest of controversies between moderate and conservative Baptists. Convention leaders expressed that only committed Baptists should be appointed to the board of college trustees, with the power of appointment given to the convention. Leaders were concerned that members of a secular board would fail to intervene with professors who would attack Baptist doctrines.
Shorter leaders expressed their strong opposition to the proposition of the GBC, saying that full control needed be given to their trustees in order to preserve the college’s accreditation and academic prestige.
Following the dispute, the convention stopped its regular contribution of approximately 1.5 million to Shorter. The convention froze the $9 million it had allocated to Shorter, which included $8 million for capital improvements and endowment programs.
J. Robert White, executive director of the Georgia Baptist Convention, gave a direct statement saying the church “has contributed more than $26 million to Shorter College over the last 43 years.”
Ed Schrader, president of the small school comprised of 2100 students, expressed his sentiment over the legal issue. “I’m relieved that the uncertainty is over, but I continue to be sad that two Christian groups have not been able to settle their issues without going to extremes.” Shorter will still keep with its Baptist heritage, despite its cut ties with the convention, said Schrader.
The Shorter College board is in the process of trying to recover $9 million originally part of the Southern Baptist Convention, but withdrawn by the GBC.
The Shorter-GBC dispute is only one among many other recent ideological controversies among similar religious groups/organizations. At least seven Baptist colleges, including Furman University in South Carolina and Baylor University in Texas, have all severed relations with the Southern Baptist Convention in order to prevent an encroaching of conservative ideas.
By Daniel Kwon