SBTC Executive Board approves grant for training SWBTS students
May 2nd, 2019 / By: Tammi Reed Ledbetter | Associate Editor / comments
GALVESTON—Grants to support the training of future ministers, revitalization of churches and promotion of stewardship were among the priorities taken up by the Executive Board of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention during their April 22-23 retreat meeting in Galveston.
At the recommendation of the administrative committee, the Board approved an undesignated reserves funding grant of $100,000 to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary as “an expression of our appreciation to SWBTS for their work in training future ministers.”
SWBTS President Adam Greenway told members, “We are thankful for a confessional state convention in partnership with a confessional seminary here in the greatest state in the land.”
Calling the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention “our largest cumulative donor in seminary is history,” Greenway praised the SBTC for being the leader among state conventions by forwarding 55 percent of undesignated receipts to the SBC. “We could not do what we do without you.”
The Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware was awarded a $75,000 reserves funding grant to support the revitalization efforts of their church services ministry. Another $5,000 will facilitate SBTC staff travel for training events in Maryland/Delaware.
The board also approved a $30,000 grant to the Southern Baptists of Texas Foundation for more focused stewardship promotion in SBTC affiliated churches, including the development of materials and resources. In his report to the board, SBTF Executive Director Bart McDonald said the Foundation had transitioned from relying upon subsidies for all of its operations to being self-supporting.
A $250,000 grant authorized earlier in the year for online sexual abuse prevention training was expanded to include other live training events and initiatives.
The board also received a report from its executive committee on sexual abuse of children. Based on the convention’s doctrinal statement of the Baptist Faith & Message 2000, the board’s executive committee voted March 26 to specify that no church may be approved for affiliation or continuing affiliation if the church’s senior pastor has been convicted of the sexual abuse of a child or if the church is found by the credentials committee to be “indifferent” in their response to child sexual abuse.
The new policy states that “indifference can be evidenced by, among other things, (a) employing a convicted sex offender in positions other than that of senior pastor, (b) allowing a convicted sex offender to work as a volunteer in contact with minors, (c) continuing to employ a person who unlawfully concealed from law enforcement information regarding the sexual abuse of any person by an employee or volunteer of the church, or (d) willfully disregarding compliance with child abuse reporting laws.”
Article XV of the BF&M 2000 says in part that “Christians should oppose…all forms of sexual immorality.” The executive committee of the SBTC board interprets this article to oppose child sexual abuse as “a form of sexual immorality that is clearly ungodly, morally corrupt and a sin against a holy God,” according to the newly crafted policy.
In response to a request approved by messengers at the 2018 annual meeting, the board asked the chairman to create a special needs task force to study the needs of special needs families and develop a strategy for equipping churches to minister to them and reach them for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Task force recommendations that are approved by the board in July will be presented for consideration by messengers at the annual meeting in 2019.
The board approved 40 churches for affiliation upon the recommendation of the convention’s credentials committee, bringing the total number of affiliated churches to 2,722. Among the 20 removed from affiliation, 11 had merged with other congregations and six had disbanded. Two no longer desired to be affiliated and one was recommended for removal.
Credentials committee representatives met with the New Spirit Baptist Church in San Antonio. The church chose to retain their pastor, who is listed on the National Sex Offender Registry. The board voted that due to the church’s position, it was in violation of the Baptist Faith & Message 2000, the doctrinal statement of the convention.
In other business, the board recommended amendments to SBTC’s constitution and bylaws for approval by messengers to the 2019 annual convention session. The changes take effect at the close of the 2020 annual meeting contingent upon ratification by messengers that year
Keith Sanders of Keller served as chairman of the committee that reviewed convention documents and called attention to two changes—expanding the credentials committee from six to nine members and empowering the executive board to temporarily fill vacancies in the unexpired terms of messenger-elected officers and committee members. He said the majority of the changes are clerical, reordering the location of existing language or bringing the document in line with actual practice.
Chief Financial Officer Joe Davis reported that the $27,276,068 received in 2018 represented the highest amount of Cooperative Program dollars given to SBTC in its 20-year history. Net operating income through March was reported at $484,664 with net worth listed at just over $17 million.
Contributions to the Reach Texas State Missions Offering by SBTC churches are $58,916 higher with $1,103,306 given in the first seven months of reporting. Giving to the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions is $56,856 lower at $832,025 for the first six months of the reporting year, when compared to the previous year. Giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions is $78,524 lower at $6,652,845 for the comparable six-month period.
In his report to the board, SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards said the financial strength of the convention is good because the churches contribute through the Cooperative Program. “Without their confidence in this ministry that we do together there would not be a convention. As the churches choose to work together with a heart for missions and then give through the Cooperative Program we are able to accomplish things.”
He expressed gratitude for a fellowship based on a faith statement that is coupled with a gracious attitude toward one another. “We believe the same, but we’re also joined not just in our head with what we believe, but with our hearts as we serve the Lord together and love each other,” Richards added.
Once asked what the SBTC ought to be about in five or 10 years, Richards said, “It ought to be about the same thing it was when it started. Our methods have changed as opportunities have arisen, but basically, we are still about the mission of reaching Texas and touching the world. It is the mandate Jesus gave the church and we do it together as a convention of churches.”