Two-hundred “mainstream” Baptists passed a resolution Saturday urging churches and other bodies to add the Baptist World Alliance to their budgets to offset an anticipated $300,000 loss in annual funding from the Southern Baptist Convention.

The third annual Mainstream Baptist Convocation, meeting Feb. 27-28 in Nashville, Tenn., unanimously adopted a resolution deploring an SBC Executive Committee proposal to pull out of the BWA and imploring Southern Baptists to defeat the proposal at this summer’s convention meeting in Indianapolis.

The statement recognized contributions of the BWA, a fellowship of 211 Baptist conventions and unions representing 47 million baptized believers, and exhorted individuals, churches, associations, state conventions and other organizations to “rally to support this valuable and essential organization.”

It asked Baptists to support the BWA with prayer, “addition of the BWA to their annual budgets” and by learning more about the BWA and participating in its work. It also urged Baptists to make plans to attend next year’s 100-year anniversary of the BWA’s founding, scheduled July 27-31, 2005, in Birmingham, England.

The SBC Executive Committee voted 62-10 last month to defund and withdraw from the BWA, which Southern Baptists helped establish in 1905. If approved by convention messengers June 15-16 in Indianapolis, the SBC pullout would be effective Oct. 1.

Southern Baptist leaders recommending the break claim the BWA is tainted by liberalism and anti-American sentiment.

The Mainstream resolution, however, credited the BWA with working around the world “to bring unity to Baptists, facilitate evangelism and affirm salvation in Jesus Christ alone, promote reconciliation and peace, affirm Biblical faith, respond to human need and defend human rights and religious liberty against tyranny and persecution.”

The resolution cited the BWA for honoring “traditional Baptist principles” and recognizing “the autonomy and interdependence of Baptist churches and member bodies.”

As “a respected international Baptist fellowship,” the BWA “has been a voice that has successfully negotiated and intervened with world governments on behalf of Baptist minorities throughout the world,” the resolution stated.

It cited numerous Baptist leaders declaring that the SBC’s withdrawal from the BWA “will create schism among world Baptists, represent a demoralizing blow to global witness and missions and shatter an historic, cooperative relationship.”

The Mainstream Baptist Network identifies itself as a “network of Baptist believers [not a denomination] who support traditional Baptist principles such as religious freedom, Bible freedom, soul freedom, priesthood of the believer, freedom in Christ as the living Word of God and church autonomy.”

Mainstream Baptists say they “seek freedom that walks a responsible path between legalism and license, with an open Bible, and under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.”

Click here to see the full text of the resolution.

Click here for information about how to support the Baptist World Alliance.

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