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."