DALLAS – The president of the Southern Baptist Convention released a statement endorsing the proposed withdrawal of the denomination from the Baptist World Alliance, Tuesday, December 23. Describing the BWA as a “marginalized organization,” Jack Graham reiterated the Dec. 19 recommendation to terminate the membership at the start of the coming fiscal year, on Oct. 1.
"In a world full of terrorists and extremists, we do not have time to play religious games or become bogged down in the quagmire of Baptist debates. It is time for Southern Baptists to move on and get busy fulfilling the Great Commission in our lifetime,” said Graham.
A nine-member study committee on behalf of the SBC Executive Committee drafted the initial proposal last Friday. Should the committee’s recommendation by approved by the Executive Committee meeting in February, it will be forwarded to messengers at the SBC annual meeting in June.
The SBC would maintain its current funding in the BWA until Oct. 1 of next year, according to the committee's recommendation. For a number of years, the SBC allocation to the BWA had been $425,000 per year. The SBC's 2003-04 budget allocates $300,000 to the BWA, an amount reduced by $125,000 during last June's SBC annual meeting in Phoenix. The $125,000 was redirected to a new SBC "Kingdom Relationships" global initiative. The committee projects that the other $300,000 will be similarly transferred.
The following is the full statement from Jack Graham, pastor of the Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church.
"I respect and endorse the study committee recommendation regarding the Baptist World Alliance and our separation from this organization.
"The Baptist World Alliance is becoming a marginalized organization which is having a smaller and smaller influence for the Gospel of Christ around the world. Southern Baptists desire to work with likeminded believers who share our strategic commitment to the Word of God and the message of Christ.
"I appreciate very much the leadership of Baptist World Alliance President Dr. Billy Kim and respect very much his deep devotion to Christ. There are many other dynamic leaders and participants in the Baptist World Alliance.
"However, now is the time for Southern Baptists to become more and more aggressive in linking with Baptists and other likeminded evangelicals in advancing the Kingdom of God. Southern Baptists do not need to apologize for our forward-thinking faith and determination to cooperate with those who are truly impacting the world.
"In a world full of terrorists and extremists, we do not have time to play religious games or become bogged down in the quagmire of Baptist debates. It is time for Southern Baptists to move on and get busy fulfilling the Great Commission in our lifetime.
"I, for one, will encourage our churches and convention to develop new Baptist and Christian alliances worldwide which will genuinely commit to the task of world evangelism and the testimony of Jesus Christ. This is the right and best decision for Southern Baptists."