Southern Baptist leaders are still recommending that the Southern Baptist Convention withdraw from membership in the Baptist World Alliance after a six-hour meeting with BWA representatives Tuesday in Nashville, Tenn.
BWA representatives from six nations met with members of an SBC/BWA Study Committee in a last-ditch reconciliation effort before the SBC votes in June on whether to end its 99-year relationship with the global Baptist fellowship.
BWA president Billy Kim of Suwon, South Korea, who proposed the leadership meeting, co-chaired the closed-door session with Morris Chapman, president and CEO of the SBC Executive Committee. Chapman also chairs the SBC study group that first recommended the severing of ties last December
Participants emerging from the meeting at the SBC Executive Committee headquarters said they had agreed not to comment beyond a joint statement released late Tuesday through Baptist Press.
“It was a very cordial meeting,” BWA General Secretary Denton Lotz told EthicsDaily.com.
Gary Smith, chairman of the SBC Executive Committee, said if leaders of the two groups had been holding such discussions all along, “we probably wouldn’t have reached our recent impasse.”
The SBC/BWA Study Committee is recommending no change to its earlier report citing theological liberalism and anti-American sentiment as reasons why the SBC should no longer participate in the BWA, which Southern Baptists took the lead in establishing in 1905. The SBC Executive Committee voted in favor of the pullout in February. Messengers to the SBC annual meeting will have final say, when the convention meets June 15-16 in Indianapolis.
The group resolved, however, to hold similar meetings of representatives of both groups at least once a year to continue dialogue, according to the joint statement. The statement also said that all participants expressed hope that future concerns might be resolved in ways so that the SBC might choose to once again participate fully in the BWA “in the not-too-distant future.”
The statement described the meeting as “a full and frank discussion of concerns, conducted in a warm and mutually respectful spirit.”
The BWA delegation, along with Kim and Lotz, included David Coffey and Alistair Brown of Great Britain; Bruce Milne of Canada; Ian Chapman, Elaine Smith and John Sundquist of the United States; Theo Angelov of Bulgaria and Fausto Vasconcelos of Brazil.
SBC representatives included SBC/BWA Study Committee members Jimmy Draper, president of LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, Tenn.; Jerry Rankin, president of the International Mission Board in Richmond, Va.; Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas; Tom Elliff, a former SBC president and pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Del City, Okla.; Gary A. Smith, chairman of the Executive Committee and pastor of Fielder Road Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas; retired Judge Paul Pressler of Houston; and Bob Sorrell, president of The Associate, Inc., a ministry to pastors in Cordova, Tenn. A ninth SBC participant was August Boto, the Executive Committee’s vice president for convention policy.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.