November 8th, 2010 at 10:34 pm
MCALLEN – Messengers to the Baptist General Convention of Texas Annual Meeting voted down a motion that would have allowed Houston Baptist University to elect non-Baptist trustees and approved a motion that seeks to radically alter the format of the annual meeting.
In spirited debate, messengers were concerned that allowing HBU to elect non-Baptist trustees would weaken the Baptist ties to the school. Clyde Glazener, pastor of Gambrell Street Baptist Church in Fort Worth, argued that history indicates once an institution is given the freedom to elect non-Baptist trustees, it eventually loses its Baptist identity.
John Petty, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Kerrville, agreed with Glazener’s assessment.
“I see it as a slippery slope,” he said.
Ed Seay, chairman of HBU’s board insisted the university remains committed to its Baptist identity. The motion will “in no way diffuse our Baptist identity or direction.”
Andy Pittman, pastor of First Baptist Church in Lufkin, disagreed, saying that is exactly what putting non-Baptists on the board would do. “If we allow non-Baptists to set the agenda, we are hurting the future of Texas Baptists.”
The motion was voted down narrowly, by a vote of about 60 percent to 40 percent.
Messengers approved a motion that would significantly alter the format of the annual meeting, though they didn’t change it as much as the Texas Baptist Annual Meeting Study Committee suggested.
Messengers overwhelmingly approved moving forward with each annual meeting having a theme such as advocacy/care, missions/evangelism, Baptist distinctives and the Baptist Faith and Message. Every five years, the annual meeting will take place during the summer, bringing together meeting of all Texas Baptists. In 2017, the annual meeting will take places at multiple locations and be tied together through simulcasting.
Kyle Henderson, chairman of the committee, said the changes are meant to increase attendance. In the past five years, 75 percent of BGCT-affiliated congregations have not attended a BGCT Annual Meeting. Henderson compared it to a Thanksgiving meal where fewer and fewer family members attend each year.
“There’s a lot more empty seats around our table,” he said.
Messengers voted down part of the committee’s recommendation that would have eliminated resolutions – statements approved by the convention on specific issues. Numerous messengers indicated a need to keep resolutions so the body can comment on items when needed.
Messengers also voted down part of the committee’s recommendation that would have moved discussion of business to a breakout session. Several people voiced a need to continue having discussion and voting together in a large gathering.
Photo by Robert Rogers
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