Thursday, March 23, 2006

IMB: Sorry, but this I don't like one bit!

Associated Baptist Press reports that the trustees of the IMB (International Mission Board of the SBC), believing they live in a vacuum, have ...
... decided not to seek the removal of one of their own for criticizing trustee actions, but they adopted new guidelines to prohibit and punish such criticism in the future.
That's what we know as yum and spew at our house, part good and part awful ... Bowden at Interregnum said it differently ...
... the "old-boy-network" won the battle and openness, transparency, and principled dissent lost.
I'm not interested in getting into a whizzing contest over any of this, but it is not good news for the convention.
The new guidelines require trustees to "refrain from public criticism" of not only trustee policies -- like the November decisions defining a proper baptism and prohibiting use of a "private prayer language" by missionary candidates -- but all "board-approved actions."
Doesn't that sound more like something from a report of the public relations committee for the National Council of Churches, than something from an august SBC entity?

I asked myself, if you muzzle the members during the meetings, if you handpick trustees for committees, and if you muzzle them after the meetings ... how in God's name are they supposed to represent their constituencies?

How, pray tell, does a trustee who disagrees with a board action communicate his disagreement to his church and to his state?

Even more importantly, if the convention, the state conventions, and the associations have no say in the affairs of the local church, under what twisted logic does the IMB determine it can so control a duly appointed pastor-trustee that he is, in effect, emasculated before his own congregation relative to IMB actions, policies, and programs?
Likewise, the new guidelines require trustees "to refrain from speaking in disparaging terms" not only of fellow trustees but -- after an amendment -- of all IMB personnel.
I guess Peter, Paul, John Mark, and Barnabbas need not apply?
One such alternative apparently already was enacted -- Burleson said on his blog after the vote that he will not be allowed to serve on any trustee committees until the board or its chairman allows it.
Oh great, where is that in the Board's constitution? And if it is in the Board's consitution, it ought not to be! Perhaps SCOTUS isn't the only body needing renovation?

Read this with an open mind ...
Trustee Mike Smith, chair of the trustee orientation committee, said the guidelines, drafted jointly with the trustee administration committee, were in the works for two years, before Burleson was elected to the board. "We knew that it would be seen as a Wade Burleson document, but that wasn't our intention," said Smith, a director of missions for the Dogwood Trails Area in East Texas.

Several trustees said the guidelines are not retroactive and won't be used against Burleson, who was accused of “broken trust and resistance to accountability” for allegedly disclosing trustee deliberations on his blog.
Now, if you buy that, then I've got a tropical retreat in Lake Michigan I'd really like to sell. It never gets below 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Really, it doesn't, never!
Trustee chairman Tom Hatley said the Burleson controversy and the problems it created were "a small price to pay" for the significant improvements that had resulted. Trustees have improved their accountability procedures and discovered the need for "better and faster ways to communicate with Southern Baptists," said Hatley, pastor Immanuel Baptist Church in Rogers, Ark.
Hatley said IMB trustees are now more aware of the younger generation of Southern Baptist pastors and leaders who rallied to Burleson's defense. "This high-tech generation is fearless," he said, adding their fearlessness is often taken for insolence.
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ho, ho, ho, ha, ho, ha, ha, ha ... stop! Oh, it hurts to much!
While the vote to rescind may defuse the growing controversy over the trustees' treatment of Burleson, it may also trigger further unrest among SBC conservatives who fear the new guidelines are evidence of a convention-wide effort to silence dissent, even among loyal SBC supporters.
Ya, think?
Several [visiting pastors] said the guidelines signal a narrowing of dissent within the SBC.
And this from the new guidelines ...
"…[T]rustees are to speak in positive and supportive terms as they interpret and report on actions by the board, regardless of whether they personally support the action" [...]

"Individual IMB trustees must refrain from public criticism of board-approved actions," notes the section on trustee conduct. "Experience has shown that it is not possible to draw fine lines in this area. Freedom of expression must give way to the imperative that the work of the Kingdom not be placed at risk by publicly airing differences within the board."

Smith, introducing the document, said, "Certainly in here it's alright to have disagreement. [But] when we leave here we ought to be positive."
Did baptists write that or did a politically correct sociology professor from Iowa State?

Thank the LORD there are some sane minds at these meetings; as long as there are, we can hold out hope for the IMB.
"I believe my trusteeship is primarily to the Southern Baptist Convention," said Allen McWhite, director of world missions at North Greenville University in Tigerville, S.C.

Any trustee should be able to express "honest disagreement" with a board action he or she feels is "not in the best interest of the Southern Baptist constituency," he said. "No trustee should ever be put in the position where he or she could not do that." Under the new policy, the "only alternative" for a trustee in that position is to resign, McWhite said.
But then there are some individuals who don't seem to get out much ...
"When we become trustees, we give up some things," including the freedom to speak against the board, responded Ken Cademartori, pastor of Mason-Dixon Baptist Church in New Freedom, Penn. If a trustee wants to speak publicly against an IMB action, he or she can resign, he said.
I say again, when you start a fist fight with members of my immediate family, you'd better be ready to finish the fight or explain why you feel it's time to quit; don't be hiding behind spin and secrecy.

Full story >>>>

I recommend the following for serious readers on this issue ...
"A Sad Day for IMB" Interregnum
"Ten Terrific Things Tied To Tampa" Grace and Truth to You
Three part post at SBC Outpost
"Devastated" Friesville
"Silencing All Descent" NON SEQUITUR
"IMB Trustee Incompetence" Caught in the Middle

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