Seminary delays movement of $90M to management firm

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by gb93433, Oct 23, 2006.

  1. gb93433

    gb93433
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    http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?ID=24232

    Seminary delays movement of $90M to management firm
    By Staff
    Oct 23, 2006

    FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)--Trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, delayed the transfer of $90 million away from the Baptist Foundation of Texas to the seminary’s own foundation during their semiannual meeting Oct. 16-17 after questions surfaced about the investment strategy of the company that would manage the money.

    The Southwestern Seminary Foundation had retained the services of The Investment Fund for Foundations (TIFF) -– a Charlottesville, Va., company –- as a primary fund manager, but several Internet blogs posted information about TIFF’s management of the seminary’s endowment funds shortly before the trustee meeting had begun. Bloggers claimed that the use of TIFF by the seminary foundation would violate the Southern Baptist Convention’s recent resolution calling for Southern Baptists to oppose the production and sale of alcohol.

    TIFF, which also manages endowment funds of the American Bible Society, Baptist Community Ministries of Louisiana and the Virginia Baptist Homes, invests in thousands of stocks and bonds to reduce risks. But among its investment holdings are multiple “sin stocks,” or stocks in alcohol and tobacco companies including Coors, Heineken, Kirin Brewing Co., Tsingtao Brewing Co., Foster’s Group, Carlsberg Brewery of Malaysia, British-American Tobacco of Asia and Japan Tobacco.

    In Greensboro, N.C., last June, messengers at the SBC annual meeting went on record as expressing their “total opposition to the manufacturing, advertising, distributing, and consuming of alcoholic beverages.”

    How Internet bloggers were leaked information about the use of TIFF -- information meant only for the seminary’s trustees -– is uncertain, but Marty Duren, moderator of the SBC Outpost blog, posted information about the company Oct. 15, the day before the trustee meeting was scheduled to begin. Duren said he wondered if the members of the trustee board had been “made aware of the specifics of this situation.”

    Duren claimed that the use of the company, in addition to violating the alcohol resolution messengers adopted in Greensboro, also would run counter to a statement issued by the participants of the Joshua Convergence, which said they opposed “the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages. Throughout its history, our Convention has stood against the evils of alcohol. The present generation can in good conscience do no other.”

    Benjamin S. Cole, an Arlington, Texas, pastor who opposed the SBC’s resolution on alcohol in Greensboro, also mentioned the investment of seminary funds in Coors Brewing company on his blog, Baptist Blogger, Oct. 16, or the first day of the seminary trustees’ meetings. Those first-day meetings are not open to the public.

    Instead of proceeding with the transfer of the funds, Southwestern trustees adopted a recommendation from at-large board member Geoffrey Kolander during the meeting. That statement read:

    “Southwestern Seminary Foundation shall make a conscientious effort to steward investments which are consistent with the biblical, moral, and ethical standards embraced by Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and its parent organization, the Southern Baptist Convention.”

    The board’s business administration committee also made a recommendation that the “governing documents, investment policies, and control policies of the Southwestern Seminary Foundation be reviewed by outside counsel for best practices and that a risk assessment be conducted on Southwestern Seminary Foundation’s activities.”

    In many cases, Baptist schools, organizations and churches look to GuideStone Financial Resources, formerly the SBC Annuity Board, for the management of retirement funds. The group also has an endowment fund for needy annuitants. Blogger Art Rogers asked on Duren's blog why GuideStone could not manage the seminary's funds in order to better facilitate the ministry of the seminary.

    When asked by Baptist Press for comment on the handling of Southwestern Seminary’s endowment fund, GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said he did not wish to comment "on any other SBC entity’s affairs."

    In response to questions Baptist Press posed to the seminary, Paige Patterson, Southwestern’s president, wrote that investing with GuideStone is an option and that the decision to delay would give trustees more time to consider all options.

    Patterson said the initial move to transfer funds was not due to dissatisfaction with the Baptist Foundation of Texas but added that the seminary would “eventually do better in our yield.” He said the seminary was “given a foundation and need[ed] effectively to use it.”

    Patterson added that Southwestern’s primary concern is to limit exposure to so-called sin stocks and noted the difficulty in avoiding them in equity markets. “Southwestern wishes to expend every effort to honor God in investments as well as ministry,” he said.

    Duren concluded that Southwestern Seminary’s decision to postpone the transfer of its funds to its own foundation and the management of TIFF was the result of “the openness and accountability that is being provided in the blogosphere,” which he claimed was working for the benefit of Southern Baptists.

    Duren wrote that in the past, investment transactions like this transpired “without second thought,” stating that bloggers raised questions that had to be considered, showing the importance of conducting SBC business in the open. “Closed door sessions, except in extreme circumstances, tend toward trouble,” he said.

    At the end of the trustee meeting, board chairman Van McClain of New York told trustees that material from their meeting notebooks could be removed and taken home. But he reminded trustees that the information should be guarded.

    “It is confidential information. It should not be shared with anyone outside of the trustees. That is for your information only,” McClain said.

    A trustee asked McClain to repeat the statement, which he did, thanking the other trustee for the opportunity to restate his point.

    The Southwestern Seminary Foundation was created in 1998 and formerly was known as the Harold E. Riley Southwestern Foundation. A longtime seminary supporter, Riley donated the foundation to the seminary last year, and in September 2005 the SBC Executive Committee Southwestern Seminary’s acquisition of a controlling interest in the foundation. Riley also recently pledged $16 million to assist the seminary with the construction of a new chapel.
     
  2. El_Guero

    El_Guero
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    Ouch!

    :BangHead:

    What can ya' say. Good post.
     
  3. Joseph_Botwinick

    Joseph_Botwinick
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    Good for the bloggers. All this secrecy at the board meetings...kinda majes one wonder what they are hiding.

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  4. preachinjesus

    preachinjesus
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    This was the right thing to do...frankly the moral thing to do.

    We need full disclosure of all trustee meetings (except certain IMB meetings where sensitive assignments are discussed and only those sensitive matters.)

    Our fine convention is slowly devolving into a clandestine assembly with nothing to do with congregational polity.
     
  5. gb93433

    gb93433
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    When I read the article it reminded me of another BFA waiting to happen. Why is the SBC in the money making business anyway? They grew a lot and survived many years without the money makers. There are supposedly 42,000 members in the SBC who are making money each week.

    God will not be mocked.
     
  6. gb93433

    gb93433
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    That is the way it is at public schools. Shouldn't the SBC be on higher ground than a public school?
     
  7. RandR

    RandR
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    I would have no problem with SWBTS moving the funds. I would have no problem with them not micro-managing the investments to divest of any and all semblance of "sin stocks" because I think there is no end to what would, could, or should be excluded.

    BUT...in light of Resolution 5, I don't think the trustees had any choice but to delay this move.

    To me this all illustrates the inherent problems with Resolution 5 when taken to its logical ends.
     
  8. NateT

    NateT
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    That was pretty much my view. Truth is, if R.5 had not occured, this probably wouldn't have been an issue at all. Ironic, isn't it?

    It reminds me of a story Joe Stowel (former Pres of Moody Bible) told. He said early on in their marriage he and his wife decided they were not going to use credit cards anymore. Not long after that (a week maybe?) They had a tire blow out and needed new tires for their car. He said he felt as if God was saying "Did you really mean it?" For his credit, they somehow scraped together money instead of using the card.
     

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