Wednesday, December 26, 2007

N.C. one of top 10 Baptist news stories, 2007

According to the survey by the Associated Baptist Press, "Turmoil" in the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina is one of the top ten Baptist news stories for 2007:

Years of pro-SBC conservatives consolidating their grip on the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s leadership led most of the state convention’s affiliated agencies -- including three colleges and the state’s Woman’s Missionary Union -- to distance themselves from the convention. In response, messengers to the annual meeting voted to defund WMU. They also expelled a prominent and historic Charlotte congregation, Myers Park Baptist Church, for its stance on accepting gays and lesbians, prompting national headlines in the secular press.
I remember a conversation I had with an SBC pastor prior to our move back to North Carolina in 1996. The region of Louisiana where we lived was full of Reformed, Baptist churches (punctuation is intentional) -- at least five congregations within a reasonable drive of our home, both independent and SBC-affiliated. I was trying to reconnoiter the church situation back in the Carolinas and called a few pastors in the area we were contemplating, hoping to find if there were any like-minded churches there (remember, this is pre-Web for most of us, and the Founders Conference was trying hard not to look like a sub-denomination within the SBC).

I asked the pastor of a moderately large church whether he knew of any Baptist churches that were teaching "the doctrines of grace", and there was a pause, almost a sigh, on his end of the line, before he said, "You have to understand; here in North Carolina, Baptists are still debating whether the Bible is literally true or not. They're not to that level of theological sophistication yet."

I think I've seen the larger N.C. association continue to move to the conservative side since then, and the moderate party consolidating itself as a subset group (subsitute "fundamentalist" and "liberal" if you feel led). Our congregation, South Smithfield Baptist Church, is not currently a member of either the BSCNC or the Southern Baptist Convention; neither are we hostile toward either. I just mention this as an interesting FYI.

Of course, as I had occasion to mention in my sermon last week, there are sometimes good and Godly reasons that churches -- and I suppose, affiliated ministries -- may find it expedient to separate from organizations.

No comments: