IMB seeks removal of blogging trustee

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by gb93433, Jan 11, 2006.

  1. gb93433

    gb93433
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    http://www.abpnews.com/www/762.article

    IMB seeks removal of blogging trustee, accuse Wade Burleson of 'broken trust'

    By Robert Dilday and Greg Warner

    Published: January 11, 2006

    RICHMOND, Va. (ABP) -- Trustees of the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board will seek to remove a member of their board, apparently for posting information about the board's deliberations on his weblog.

    Oklahoma pastor Wade Burleson has been outspoken in his criticism of recent board actions, particularly its decision not to appoint missionaries who use a "private prayer language" -- a variation of tongues-speaking -- in their personal devotions.

    But a brief IMB statement said Burleson's proposed removal involved "broken trust and resistance to accountability, not Burleson’s opposition to policies recently enacted by the board."

    Burleson, pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Enid, Okla., and an active blogger, regularly posts his comments about the IMB on his web page.

    "In everything I have spoken truth, never violating any confidentiality policies or guidelines of the IMB, and have always spoken with the desire to make our beloved convention better," he wrote Jan. 10 in his blog at www.kerussocharis.blogspot.com.

    Burleson was traveling Jan. 11 and could not be reached for comment. Because SBC trustees are elected by the Southern Baptist Convention, they can only be removed by action of the convention, which meets in June in Greensboro, N.C.

    Burleson wrote Jan. 11 that he was not allowed to respond to the trustees' accusations during the meeting. "I have not been given a copy of the statement, but I know it contained the words 'slander' and 'gossip,'" he wrote.

    In a statement released after the meeting, trustee chairman Thomas Hatley of Rogers, Ark., said: "This difficult measure was not taken without due deliberation and exploration of other ways to handle an impasse between Wade Burleson and the board. … The trustees consider this a rare and grievous action but one that was absolutely necessary for the board to move forward in its duties as prescribed by the SBC.”

    Burleson and a handful of other trustees say the November vote to exclude missionaries who use a private prayer language was actually aimed at undermining IMB President Jerry Rankin, who has acknowledged using such prayer language when he was a missionary in southeast Asia.

    "I have felt for some time that there are a few trustees who are dead set on opposing the direction, vision and leadership of Dr. Jerry Rankin," Burleson wrote. "… I am blogging to make sure Dr. Rankin is no longer undermined, or if he is, to call it out."

    In his blog, Burleson said the larger conflict behind the opposition to Rankin, and his own potential ouster, is "the removal from leadership and service those who do not conform to specific interpretations of the Bible."

    "The real issue is crusading conservatives vs. cooperating conservatives," he wrote.

    That language has been used to describe a growing rift among the SBC's conservative leaders. Last year, SBC chief executive Morris Chapman, president of the SBC Executive Committee, warned such a conflict threatens the denomination's future.

    Burleson also has charged that a small group of IMB trustees exert inordinate control over the board's activities, in violation of IMB policies. In a Jan. 9 blog, he described encountering a small group of trustees in the lobby of their Richmond hotel -- the day before the vote to oust him.

    "As we entered the hotel, a group of about 10 or 12 trustees were seated in the foyer of the hotel," he wrote. "I decided to come back down and listen in on the conversation without being observed by the group. After 10 minutes of hearing things that I am not yet prepared to place in print, I … [decided] to confront these men.

    "I asked them to explain to me what I heard, which I believe to be a clear violation of trustee policies and procedures establishing agendas and motions outside of normal trustee meetings. I also asked them to explain other things I heard.

    "Our [trustee] blue book clearly forbids other trustees meeting in caucus to establish agendas, motions or policies during the course of a regularly scheduled IMB meeting, without other trustees present. This policy prevents politics where prayer and the Spirit of God should be preeminent. ... [T]he motion I heard being made had nothing to do with missions, our missionaries, world evangelism, or anything else to do with the promotion of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but it had everything to do with a private agenda -- period. This is what must stop."

    In other action, the trustees voted to require the IMB's communications office to clear any stories about trustee actions with the board's chair or someone he designates.

    The action is apparently in response to a dispute over last November's vote count -- which was taken by a show-of-hands -- to approve the prayer-language restriction.

    The initial story distributed by the IMB reported a vote of 25-18. Some trustees later challenged that count, claiming a more decisive 50-15 count. The original story was later removed from the IMB's web site.

    "We were trying to decide how not to get in that situation again," IMB spokesman Van Payne said in explaining the new policy about news releases. "The trustee chairman will get a look at trustee stories before they are released."
     
  2. shannonL

    shannonL
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    What are the "crusading conservatives" crusading for or against? What or with whom are "cooperating conservatives" cooperating with?

    I'm not sure if blogging was totally ethical. It may not be any better than the men sitting around gossiping before the meeting.
    I will say though that maybe it is a good thing that Wade did it just for the fact that this will bring everything to a climax at the convention this year. If messengers refuse to vote off bro. Wade then "the churches have spoken" then some heat will be put upon the executive committee. If they vote to remove Wade then you will clearly see where the majority of SBC people stand. Thus giving some clarity to some churches and pastors as the direction they will lead their respective churches concerning the SBC.
     
  3. Kiffen

    Kiffen
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    Thanks for keeping us aware of this gb93433. Interesting.
     
  4. Jonathan

    Jonathan
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    This does seem to be more about control and less about theology. I am interested to see how the churches respond to this during the annual meeting. Blogs are informing way more church members than most pastors realize.
     
  5. Deacon

    Deacon
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    I'm not in the Southern Baptist Convention or IMB (or IBM for that matter) and have not heard about this issue until reading it here.

    Where I attend, we have an understanding that topics duscussed during leadership meetings will remain confidential. This is important for a number of reasons.

    The leadeship deals with information that is sensitive, people with family problems, financial difficulties or other personal problems. Additionally when a topic is discussed they are not "yes-men"; heated discussions can occur intil we discern where we think God is leading us.

    Bloging can be powerful. A bloging leader must be very careful to make sure they are not pushing an agenda past a committee and presenting it to the congregaton before the leadership is fully on board.

    I can only imagine in a larger organization such as the IMB, that confidentiality issues are multiplied many times.

    It appears to me that through his blog he has broken or weakened the trust of those leaders around him.

    Rob
     
  6. Hardsheller

    Hardsheller
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    I think this action by the board of trustees will galvanize the people of the SBC to send more messengers to Greensboro this coming year than we've had at any convention lately.

    Dr. Burleson is pastor of a large church in Oklahoma and has recently for two terms been the President of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. He is not going away and he is going to gather a following and for the first time in Greenboro in 2006 the "anointed" nominee for President of the SBC may have a challenger.
     
  7. Jimmy C

    Jimmy C
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    I read that the bylaws of the SBC require a 2/3 vote to throw someone off a committee. it will be tough to do - unless there is some real strong back room arm twisting. The leaders of the SBC wouldnt do that - would they?
     
  8. blackbird

    blackbird
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    The committee can only recommend the firing. The motion must be brought before the messengers in Greensboro. The committee does not fire---messengers fire! See?? He will be fired when messengers fire him!

    Hardsheller says, ". . .he is going to gather a following and for the first time in Greensboro in 2006 the 'anointed' nominee for President of the SBC may have a challenger"

    'sheller??? What in "Sam Hill" does firing a Trustee have to do with the "anointed" having a challenger?? And who would you categorize as "anointed" on this particular occasion---that occasion being Bobby Welch's successor??
     
  9. imported_J.R. Graves

    imported_J.R. Graves
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    "Dr. Burleson is pastor of a large church in Oklahoma and has recently for two terms been the President of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma."

    Bro. Burleson is also an IMB trustee from Oklahoma. One thing that amazes me about this is how do his doctrinial beliefs line up with Oklahoma Baptists on tongues and baptism? I have been told that 90% of Oklahoma Baptists still reject alien immersion and I would guess 95%+ do not believe in tongues as a private prayer language. I wonder what the rank and file Oklahoma Southern Baptist pastor thinks about all this?
     
  10. shannonL

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    On the one hand the average Joe in the congregation needs to know more about what goes on at the "top" etc.... OTOH, blogging before the matter was settled could be considered unethical. Yet, it isn't anymore unethical than the other trustees predetermining the outcome of the whole issue. (So says Wade and others).
    Still, why should Wade be made out to be "A man of the people" without thought being given to the fact that maybe he is an opportunist. (Not saying he is).However this is one of the flaws of a convention set up it promotes that kind of behavior since there is a totem pole that can be climbed. I'm just saying this Wade fellow is flesh and bone just like those other gentlemen who make up the committee. Suppose this Wade fellow wants to write himself into the pages of SBC history. I'm not saying he is none of that but let us just consider that for a moment before you declare Wade to be "lilly white" and the other trustees to be "evil self promoters"
    Personally, I'm not a calvinist nor an arminian. If though the calvinists continue to gain ground in the convention that is sure better than moderates/ liberals running the show.
    BTW, I grew up SB. I'm now just a baptist. I just don't believe biblically that there is strong grounds for conventionism. Even the verses that are used in the BF & M are not all that strong.
    Conventions simply by their very nature produce a political hierarchy that is not healthy for the church.
    I will always keep an eye on what goes on in the ole SBC. I grew up a SB saved in a SB church. My first church was SB. Alot of my heroes like Adrian Rogers are SB but there is to much politics in it.
    Christ is the head of the church. You can't squeeze the word convention in between those two.
     

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