Very Much indeed!
In North Carolina we are one of the very few state conventions that have cooperated together with churches that support the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Have I agreed with everything the state convention leadership has done? Not really. Have we tried to cooperate with the leadership at our schools and other entities? Certainly, we have.
North Carolina has a unique set-up as to the appointments for various committees. On the national level our SBC President has appointive powers solely. In North Carolina the President and the Vice Presidents serve as a committee nominating, not appointing, persons to serve on the Committee on Committees and Committee on Enrollment to the Board of Directors for their approval. Therefore when you elect a President in North Carolina the task is not complete until you also elect as least one conservative Vice President. These two should be able to get conservatives elected to the Committee on Committees and once that happens the Committee on Committees will in turn nominate the Committee on Nominations. The Committee on Nominations is responsible for nominating the persons for the various Boards that serve our agencies and the Board of Directors (Convention Trustees). In the Board of Directors for the convention there are various committees, called groups. It is in this Board of Directors that change can be implemented. However, the real catalyst for change lies within the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee is made up of the President and both Vice Presidents of the convention along with the President, Vice President, and Secretary that are elected by the Board of Directors and also other Chairpersons of various committees and groups of the Board of Directors.
North Carolina was firmly in the hands of moderates until 1996. It was during that year we elected Dr. Greg Mathis and Dr. Kenneth Riddings as President and 1st Vice President respectively. However, though we had a conservative majority in the officers, we still had a moderate majority in the Board of Directors. Dr. Mike Queen served as President of the Executive Committee, thus Dr. Greg Mathis had to be careful about his nominations because the Board of Directors could over-ride his nomination with nominations of their own. When Dr. Mathis was elected it was called the Greg and Mike show. And show they did. Dr. Mathis proved the old adage that conservatives are mean and uncooperative was not true. Dr. Mathis worked well with all of the moderates and as a result of working with them North Carolina elected Dr. Mac Brunson as President and Dr. Mike Cummings as 1st Vice President. When Dr. Brunson went to First Dallas with over a year left on his term, Dr. Mike Cummings stepped up and continued working with moderates in order to accomplish a stated objective–return North Carolina to cooperate with the work of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Today in North Carolina
We are in a situation where many of those who disagree with the direction of the BSCNC are pulling out of the convention. This situation would not be so bad if it did not affect the very agencies that we all have supported for years. The agencies of the convention do not have a majority of trustees that agree with the direction of the convention, thus they are making noise to leave. Those who lead these agencies know that North Carolina Baptist at large will not agree to enter into a court battle. Neither do I believe we should. The agencies and institutions appear to be using this to their advantage. They are changing charters, without the knowledge or approval of the convention, and then requesting to choose their own trustees. If the convention votes not to allow them to choose their own trustees then they will leave anyway and say they have the legal authority to do so because their charter was changed. This is basically what happened with the Baptist Retirement Homes of NC (BRHNC). We are still trying to work out an alternative with this institution. This group changed their charter after the 2005 convention and then informed the BSCNC in 2006 that they would be choosing their own trustees. When it was investigated, it was revealed the institution had already changed their charter to choose their own trustees. They changed this charter because the 2005 Nominating Committee rejected some trustee nominations because they were in churches that were affiliated with and promoted the Alliance of Baptist. I do not know if the Nominating Committee’s actions affected any trustees for the BRHNC, but that is one area discussed in the debate at the convention. From my vantage point I see the leadership of BSCNC trying hard to cooperate with all of the agencies and institutions, but some are just not willing to cooperate.
The Baptist schools have already moved away from the BSCNC. We are told that it is not a divorce, as some here say it is not. However, Dr. Bruce Martin a conservative in our state disagrees here. Our universities worked out a deal with the Executive Leadership Team of NCBSC and thus they will be choosing their own trustees after three years. Our budgeted level of giving to these institutions will decrease each year accordingly.
Women’s Missionary Union-NC
We have seen this coming for the past 16 months. It first began with WMU-NC desiring a change in the term used to describe their relationship with the convention. They desired to change the term from “auxiliary” to “cooperative partner“. You can read here, here, here, and here, for the coverage of this issue. While I know the WMU-NC had every legal right to do what they did, I only question the ethics of such a move. Ladies in my church complained to me that they did not see anything like this move coming.
Where Does this Leave Us?
We are in a situation in North Carolina that seems to be where some conservatives desired to be back in 1996. I remember at a Conservative Carolina Baptist meeting in the fall of 1996 Dr. Greg Mathis, candidate for President, answered many questions from those present. In that meeting the late Dr. Mark Corts settled the minds of many who desired to leave and begin another convention in the state. There were some that kept this threat until there was another giving plan established in the budget. When this giving plan became reality the call to begin another convention fell on deaf ears.
What has been gained by conservatives for their years of struggles and tongue biting in order to cooperate? When the moderates were in leadership we were told to stay with it because it is better to cooperate than to try and leave. We cooperated and sent our children to schools that taught much of what we did not agree but knew that one day we would be able to implement, through the trustee system, a more balanced teaching. We cooperated and sent our aging parents to BRHNC only to find out that our retirement homes do not belong to Baptist. We cooperated and listened to the ladies in our church promote an organization that has systematically made changes that placed the power in the hands of 30 women. Now these ladies we heard promote WMU-NC are asking how decisions could be made like this without including them.
Conservatives have accomplished what we set out to accomplish–move BSCNC back to support of the Southern Baptist Convention. We are also heading toward more support being given to Southern Baptist through the CPMG. However, there seems to be unrest with those agency and institutions that are still affiliated with us. They change their charters and leave and then paint our leadership as the ones unreasonable. Exactly where do we find ourselves? We are now in a position that we need to either fish or cut bait. The kind of fish we have been catching, as we cast a wider net, is mainly sting rays. They travel so gracefully and look so beautiful in their element, but will send a shard through your heart when you least expect.