NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Following six hours of closed-door deliberations, the nineteen representative heads of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Baptist World Alliance issued a three-paragraph press release on the future relationship of the two influential entities, April 13, 2004.
The meeting, held at the SBC building in Nashville, Tenn., reaffirmed the proposed action of the SBC to withdraw all funding and membership from the BWA. However, the discussions produced a means for a ‘softer transition’ for both organizations, where the leading members of the two groups will meet at least once a year for dialogues, and the SBC may possibly rejoin the BWA if certain issues may be resolved.
The SBC, with 16 million members, has played a substantial role in forming the century old BWA. This year, the SBC has allocated $300,000 in funds to the BWA -- $125,000 less than what was given for several years prior to 2004. The funds were reduced during last June’s SBC annual meeting in Phoenix, to be redirected to SBC-led entities. Some say the “EKG” movement, which plans to expand to include several other Baptist groups around the world, may become a movement similar to the BWA with a more evangelical and conservative voice.
The move to discontinue SBC membership to the BWA was initially recommended a SBC study committee last year on Dec. 19, 2003. The Executive Committee further approved the proposal by a 62-10 vote during its meeting in Nashville on Feb. 16-17. Should the delegates to the SBC’s Annual Convention vote for the recommendation this coming June, the SBC will withdraw membership and halt the flow of $300,000 in funds to the BWA.
The SBC blamed the “apparent approval of aberrant theologies” and “questionable allocation of funds” as the reasons to split. Some, however, say the BWA’s acceptance of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship – a denomination that separated from the SBC in the 1990s because of its very liberal doctrines – in early 2003 was an influential “straw that broke the camel’s back.”
The ten members of the BWA delegation were: Billy Kim, president of the BWA; Denton Lotz, BWA General Secretary, BWA Vice-Presidents, David Coffey, England; Bruce Milne, Canada; Elain Smith, Washington D.C., John Sundquist, Michigan; Ian Chapman, Virginia, Theo Angelov, General Secretary of the European Baptist Federation, Alistair Brown, England, Executive Director for the Baptist Missionary Society, and Fausto Vasconcelos, Brazil, President of the Union of Baptists in Latin America.
The nine member SBC committee were: Morris H. Chapman, President of the SBC Executive and Chairman of the SBC/BWA Study Committee, James T. Draper, President, LifeWay Christian Resources; Tom Eliff, Former SBC President, Pastor First Baptist Church, Del City , OK; Paige Patterson, President Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Paul Pressler, Judge, retired; Jerry Rankin, President, International Mission Board; Gary A. Smith, Chairman, Executive Committee of the SBC; Bob Sorrell, President, The Associate, Inc., Cordova, TN; D. August Boto, Vice President for Convention Policy, SBC Executive Committee.
The following is the joint BWA/SBC release in its entirety:
"Representative leadership from the Southern Baptist Convention and the Baptist World Alliance met in Nashville on the 13th of April 2004. Co-chairs were Dr. Billy Kim and Dr. Morris Chapman. The meeting encompassed a full and frank discussion of concerns conducted in a warmand mutually respectful spirit.
It was resolved that a similar representative group of the leadership of the BWA and SBC meet at least once per year to continue an ongoing
All participants expressed the desire that if the SBC messengers vote for disaffiliation from the BWA, further issues of concern to the respective organizations be resolved in such a way that at some point in the not too distant future the Southern Baptist Convention may choose once again to become a fully participatory member of the Baptist World Alliance."