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Unity, cooperation pledge tops EC agenda
Mark Kelly, Baptist Press
June 15, 2011
4 MIN READ TIME

Unity, cooperation pledge tops EC agenda

Unity, cooperation pledge tops EC agenda
Mark Kelly, Baptist Press
June 15, 2011

PHOENIX — An affirmation of unity and cooperation among

Southern Baptists and new ministry assignments for two Southern Baptist

entities highlighted the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee’s

agenda June 13 in Phoenix.

Pledging to “walk in unity as brothers and sisters in Christ,” Southern Baptist

entity heads, state executives and ethnic fellowship leaders signed an “Affirmation

of Unity and Cooperation” pledge during the meeting.

The document, to be highlighted during the Executive Committee’s June 14 report

to the convention, includes five core “pledges” toward a spirit of unity.

Executive Committee President Frank Page and Southern Baptist Convention

President Bryant Wright also signed it.

The document’s five core pledges are:

  • “We pledge to maintain a relationship of mutual trust, behaving ourselves

    trustworthily before one another and trusting one another as brothers and

    sisters indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God. (Ephesians 4:20-32; 2 Peter 1:3-8)

  • “We pledge to attribute the highest motives to those engaged in local church

    ministries and those engaged in denominational service in any level of

    Convention life — motives that originate within hearts truly desiring to serve

    the Lord Jesus Christ, whom we also serve. (1 Samuel 2:3; Matthew 7:1-5; 1

    Corinthians 4:1-5.

  • “We pledge to affirm the value of cooperative ministry as the most effective

    and efficient means of reaching a lost world with the message of the Gospel.

    (Psalm 68:11; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Acts 9:31; 1 Corinthians 16:1-23)

  • “We pledge to embrace our brothers and sisters of every ethnicity, race, and

    language as equal partners in our collective ministries to engage all people

    groups with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (Matthew 28:18-20; Romans 16:25-27;

    Revelation 7:9)

  • “We pledge to continue to honor and affirm proportional giving through the

    Cooperative Program as the most effective means of mobilizing our churches and

    extending our outreach as Southern Baptists, enabling us to work together to

    evangelize the lost people of our world locally, regionally, nationally, and

    internationally. (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8, 20:20-21; Romans 10:14-172

    Corinthians 8:1-13; 9:1-15)”

Ministry assignments

The ministry assignment changes for the International and North American

mission boards reflected “Great Commission Resurgence” recommendations adopted

during the 2010 SBC annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.

The International Mission Board (IMB) assignment, which will be brought before

the annual meeting’s messengers June 14 for final approval, has been revised to

allow the IMB to “provide specialized, defined and agreed upon assistance to

the North American Mission Board in assisting churches to reach unreached and

underserved people groups within the United States and Canada.” The current

ministry assignment focuses IMB work outside the U.S. and Canada.

The North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) mission statement and ministry

assignment, which also will be brought to the floor June 14, both have been

completely rewritten. The original mission statement said the entity existed to

proclaim the gospel, start churches, minister to people and assist churches.

The new mission statement refocuses NAMB on partnership with churches, associations

and state conventions in “mobilizing Southern Baptist as a missional force” in

North America.

The proposed ministry assignment for NAMB consolidates nine points to six and

rearranges its priorities. Where appointing missionaries was the first assignment,

planting churches now heads the list. A previous ministry assignment on “Christian

social ministries” has been merged into an assignment to assist churches “in

the ministries of evangelism and making disciples.” The assignments of “communicating

the gospel … through communication technologies” and “strengthening … and

providing services to associations” have been eliminated.

The proposed new statement for the International Mission Board was adopted on a

show of hands by Executive Committee members with two negative votes. The North

American Mission Board statement was adopted on a voice vote with one opposing.

The statements must be approved by messengers during the annual meeting before

taking effect.

Other business

Executive Committee members also approved recommendations:

  • to make a loan of up to $23 million available to Southwestern Baptist

    Theological Seminary for 252 new housing units in its Student Village.

  • transferring the national Empowering Kingdom Growth ministry initiative to North

    Greenville University in South Carolina.

  • expressing appreciation for Kenneth S. Hemphill, national strategist for

    Empowering Kingdom Growth, for “outstanding and exemplary leadership” of EKG

    and “unflagging devotion to, and exemplary sacrifice in, advancing God’s

    Kingdom for His glory.”

  • to hold the 2017 annual meeting in Phoenix and the 2018 annual meeting in

    Dallas.

  • The Executive Committee also unanimously re-elected its current officers: Roger

    Spradlin of Bakersfield, Calif., chairman; Ernest Easley of Marietta, Ga., vice

    chairman; and Joe Wright of Dyersburg, Tenn., secretary.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Kelly is senior writer and assistant editor for Baptist Press.

With reporting by Baptist Press associate editor Michael Foust.)