September 27th, 2011 at 1:14 pm
DALLAS – The Baptist General Convention of Texas Executive Board approved a flat 2012 convention budget proposal Sept. 27 as well as a special agreement with Baylor University.
The 2012 budget relies on Texas Baptist churches giving $35.85 million to missions through the Cooperative Program, a missions co-op that serves as the primary funding mechanism for Texas Baptist mission work. Including income from investments, conference fees, the Southern Baptist Convention North American Mission Board and non-church donors, the convention’s overall receipts are projected to be $41.34 million.
The proposed budget includes a change in the way Texas Baptist education institutions are funded, which stirred extended discussion. The proposed budget differentiates in the funding of “affiliated” education institutions where the BGCT elects at least 75 percent of the institution’s board and institutions who relate to the convention by “special agreement,” indicating the convention elects 25 percent of an institution’s board. Houston Baptist University and Baylor relate to the convention via special agreement while all other Texas Baptist education institutions relate via affiliation.
In the past, all BGCT-supported education institutions received general funding, funding for scholarships and additional money per enrolled student. Under the new guidelines, affiliated education institutions receive all three types of funding. Institutions relating through a special agreement receive general funding and funding for scholarships only.
Associate Executive Director Steve Vernon said the new funding approach is more “fair” to all Texas Baptist education institutions. It raises the base funding to Houston Baptist University to a level the convention was attempting to return it to. The mechanism also rewards institutions that are more closely related to the convention.
The net result of the proposed funding mechanism change is increased funds for all the education institutions except two while the total funds from the BGCT to education institutions remains the same as 2011. San Marcos Baptist Academy is slated to receive about the same amount in 2012 as 2011. Baylor is set to see a funding decrease of nearly $890,000, though money to George W. Truett Seminary is down only slightly.
Addressing the board, Baylor President Ken Starr said he was “disappointed” by the budget proposal, but expressed “respect” for the process. He celebrated that other Texas Baptist institutions would receive increased funding.
In other business, the BGCT Executive Board also approved a new special agreement with Baylor that seeks to “streamline” and simplify” the process through which regents are nominated, according to Ed Jackson, who was part of the team that negotiated the agreement and presented it to the board. The convention continues electing up to 25 percent of the school’s board while giving the school more input into nominees, and the two parties will continue to work together in ministry where it is seen as beneficial.
Under the previous agreement, signed in 1991, BGCT nominees to the Baylor Board of Regents were initially nominated from a five-person committee consisting of four convention representatives selected by the Committee on Nominations of Boards of Affiliated Ministries and the Baylor Board of Regents chairperson or a designee.
According to the new agreement, the nomination process begins with a five-person committee that includes two BGCT representatives, Baylor’s president or a designee, the Baylor regents chair or a designee and a Baylor designee who is a member of a BGCT-affiliated church.
The nominees to Baylor’s board then go through the convention’s nomination process, which ends with messengers to the BGCT Annual Meeting voting on the nominees. Baylor then can affirm or reject any nominee.
The agreement generated much discussion among board members, but ultimately the board approved the agreement.
Bill Brian, who also presented the agreement to the board after working on it with Baylor representatives, said the document is fair and balanced from each organization’s perspective.
The agreement outlines the technical relationship between Baylor and the BGCT, Brian said. But the document is only the beginning. The power in the relationship will be worked out in how the two bodies cooperate in ministry such as Baylor hosting the BGCT’s Congreso and the Texas Baptist Christian Life Commission partnering with the Baylor School of Social Work in the Texas Hunger Initiative.
“You can’t set a relationship with a document,” Brian said. “The relationship happens outside the document.”
The 2012 BGCT budget proposal and the special agreement between the BGCT and Baylor next go before messengers to the BGCT Annual Meeting in Amarillo on Oct. 24-26.
The board also:
- Approved a plan for Baptist University of the Americas to repay the BGCT for a loan the convention made to the school. The school will train laypeople through Baptist Bible Institutes across the state, which seek to provide basic theological education. For each benchmark a student reaches, BUA earns credit toward the repayment of the loan. These trained ministers will provide a source of leadership for BGCT-affiliated churches.
- Elected Van Christian, pastor of First Baptist Church in Comanche, as the next board chairman. He had been serving as vice chairman of the board. Stephen Hatfield, pastor of First Baptist Church in Lewisville, was elected vice chairman.