Prayer lifted for mission boards amid controversies

Looking beyond the headlines to God, members of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee prayed Feb. 20 for the work of the SBC’s two mission boards.

Addressing controversies that have buffeted the International Mission Board and North American Mission Board in recent weeks, EC president Morris Chapman asked EC chairman and California pastor Rob Zinn to lead in a time of prayer for the two entities.

The IMB had called for the removal of one of its trustees over accountability issues, but the board’s executive committee called Feb. 15 for the request to be dropped in light of accountability guidelines to be proposed by a trustee committee.

NAMB, meanwhile, has challenged the accuracy and fairness of a Feb. 16 analysis piece in The Christian Index, newsjournal of the Georgia Baptist Convention, alleging deficiencies in the entity’s work in evangelism and church planting and its retention of full-time missionaries. NAMB also challenged the paper’s criticism of NAMB president Robert Reccord on outsourcing of initiatives and on his various speaking engagements.

Zinn acknowledged Southern Baptists’ love for the two mission boards in his prayer and that “we as a Southern Baptist people are bound together to do the work of missions and evangelism … .”

Chapman commented after Zinn’s prayer, “There’s nothing in Southern Baptist life that can’t be solved with God’s help. God help us always to realize that he is bigger than any little ripple about anything or any big ripple – God has the answer. Let’s trust him for it.”

The Executive Committee also approved a 2006-07 Cooperative Program allocation budget of $195,948,423 for recommendation to the Southern Baptist Convention during its June 13-14 annual meeting in Greensboro, N.C.

The proposed budget would continue to allocate 50 percent of receipts to the International Mission Board and 22.79 percent to the North American Mission Board. The percentage allocated to the seminaries remains 21.4 percent. According to the seminary enrollment formula, Southwestern Seminary would receive 4.89 percent; Southern Seminary, 4.65 percent; New Orleans Seminary, 4.47 percent; Southeastern Seminary, 4.13 percent; Golden Gate Seminary, 1.76 percent; and Midwestern Seminary, 1.50 percent.

The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission would continue to receive 1.49 percent of the budget, and .76 percent would go to GuideStone Financial Resources for its ministry to retired ministers whose annuities were underfunded during their careers.

The SBC operating budget – which encompasses the SBC annual meeting costs and the work of the convention between annual meetings and the Executive Committee – would receive 3.32 percent of the CP budget. The Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives would receive .24 percent.

In other business, the committee approved a $5 million fundraising campaign by the North American Mission Board as part of its “New Orleans Area Hope” volunteer initiative to rebuild and rehabilitate homes and churches damaged by Hurricane Katrina. The fundraising campaign will begin in March and continue through February 2008.

Also during the meeting, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission presented Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Seminary, with the ERLC’s Richard D. Land Distinguished Service Award.

The certificate for the award described Patterson as a “trusted leader whom God used mightily in the resurgence of Southern Baptist beliefs based on the inerrancy of Holy Scripture.” The certificate also cited Patterson’s faithfulness in “boldly proclaiming the Word of God in all parts of the world as a compassionate pastor, a respected scholar, and a prolific writer” and a “servant of Jesus Christ who is intensely devoted to evangelism and the global mission task of the church.”

Previous recipients of the Distinguished Service Award include Gary Frost (2002), Jimmy Draper (1993), Carl F.H. Henry (1992), Charles Colson (1991), Billy Graham (1983) and former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalyn Carter (1982).