There’s an old idiom used to describe a prideful person who has trouble maintaining relationships: “he’d cut off his nose to spite his face.”

I couldn’t help but recall that adage when reading about the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSCNC) executive committee’s decision to cut Woman’s Missionary Union of North Carolina (WMU-NC) completely out of the budget loop while adding funds for what appears to be a replacement program.

According to stories posted by the Biblical Recorder and on the BSCNC website, the executive committee voted, in a called meeting on Oct. 29, to “authorize” WMU-NC to receive its own special offering in 2008, while dropping WMU-NC from the combined North Carolina Missions Offering (NCMO).

The committee’s offer to sanction a special WMU-NC offering — something that existed for many years before WMU-NC voluntarily gave it up to participate with other entities in the combined NCMO — was conditioned by WMU-NC’s agreement to work with the BSCNC to choose an acceptable date and “to provide BSCNC with financial information detailing its income and expense data.”

If the BSCNC is providing nothing to WMU-NC other than its official approval of the offering, I can’t imagine why WMU-NC would be obliged to turn over its accounting records.

That’s not the most important piece of this evolving puzzle, however. It appears that the executive committee intends to supplant WMU-NC’s primary role of missions education and promotion, as well: while the proposed 2008 NCMO budget contains zero dollars for WMU-NC, it contains a new item of $384,695 for “Missions education and promotion.”

That large sum replaces a $40,000 item in the current 2007 NCMO allocations for “NCMO Missions Education and Support,” an item that was introduced several years ago to help finance promotion of the NCMO.

Removing WMU-NC while replacing the modest NCMO funding with an almost-tenfold $384,695 allocation for “missions education and promotion” sends a clear signal that the executive committee intends for the BSCNC to take over the role traditionally played by WMU-NC and to divorce itself from the ever-faithful organization of missions-minded women. It’s possible, I suppose, that the BSCNC could use some of that money to contract with WMU-NC for services, but is that likely?

Budget committee member Steve Hardy, according to the BSC website, said the committee’s action was “the culmination of a long sequence of events leading to the final resignation of the WMU-NC from the Baptist State Convention.”

WMU-NC has consistently denied that it wants to “resign from,” “leave,” or otherwise separate from the Convention, stating a continuing desire to cooperate with and support the BSCNC and its mission partners. To suggest that WMU-NC wants to “resign” from the BSCNC is a bald-faced twisting of the truth.

The real rub, it appears, is that WMU-NC also wants to provide missions education and support to other groups, including the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, which many of the current power brokers see as anathema.

“Many of us in this room and across the Convention see the CBF as the most destructive force in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention,” Hardy said, according to the Recorder.

Several years ago, while throwing up a smokescreen of untruthful distortions to hide its true intent, the SBC divorced itself from the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), mainly because the BWA was willing to accept CBF as a member.

Did WMU-NC’s open willingness to work with CBF play a similar role in the BSCNC executive committee’s 18-1 vote to turn WMU-NC’s coming change of address into a full-fledged divorce?

I’d say the answer is as clear as the nose on their face … if it hadn’t been cut off.

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