FORT WORTH, Texas — The Tarrant Baptist Association’s (TBA) executive
board voted unanimously Jan. 24 to offer to sell a building that has been a
point of contention with Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
If the seminary is unwilling to buy the building on its campus in Fort Worth,
Texas, for fair market value, the TBA executive board asked that the matter be
referred to a three-member arbitration panel as stipulated in a 1982
affiliation agreement, according to TBA moderator Al Meredith. The executive
board also resolved to pray for seminary leaders in the matter.
The seminary sent a letter on Dec. 10, 2010, informing the association that it
had six months to vacate the building located at 4520 James Ave. in Fort Worth.
According to Meredith, while the building is located on the seminary’s campus,
Southwestern transferred the deed to the association in 1997. Meredith added
that three or four years ago representatives of the seminary inquired about the
availability of the property, but that nothing had been said on the matter
between then and last December. A second letter from the seminary dated Jan. 18
reaffirmed the seminary’s position, but allowed for some leeway in when the
association would have to move, Meredith said.
“I don’t have another step if these measures don’t resolve the issue,”
Meredith, pastor of Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, told Baptist Press
after the meeting, voicing hope that the issue can be resolved through a
negotiated settlement. Otherwise, “If the TBA wins, the Kingdom loses. If
Southwestern wins, the Kingdom loses. No one wants to see the Kingdom lose
because of this.”
Representatives of Southwestern have declined comment until the matter is
Published reports indicate that the seminary holds that the affiliation
agreement between the entities has been breached and is no longer in force.
The seminary’s letter raised two issues: the TBA’s inclusion of churches that
are not in “friendly cooperation” with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)
and a lack of help with finding preaching assignments and ministry
opportunities for seminary students and faculty.
TBA member Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth no longer is affiliated with
the SBC and the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) over differences in
how to deal with homosexuality among church members. The Southern Baptist
Convention stipulates that any church that affirms homosexuality is “not in
friendly cooperation.” The SBC voted in 2009 to cease relationship with the
church, and in 2010 the church voted to leave the BGCT.
“What the SBC does is not binding on state or local
institutions or the local churches,” Meredith said. “It is different for
Southwestern, since it is a denominational entity. As an association, we’re
trying to work with people who are archconservatives and moderates and
everything in between.”
As to the association’s lack of help in placing students and faculty, Meredith
said, “The great majority of the pastors on staff in the Tarrant Baptist
Association attended Southwestern. At my church, I am the only person on staff
who did not attend Southwestern. That does not even take into account the
myriad of seminary students who volunteer in TBA churches.”
Meredith added, “I pray for Paige Patterson and Southwestern Seminary every
day, as I know many of our members do.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Smith is a writer in Fort Worth, Texas.)
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