Messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention rejected a proposal to invite Woman’s Missionary Union to surrender its auxiliary status and submit to convention control.
The SBC Executive Committee recommended Monday asking the WMU to “reaffirm explicitly” the auxiliary’s “unique and exclusive promotion of Southern Baptist Convention missions and ministries” and/or to become a convention entity.
Executive Committee leaders said the recommendation, in response to a motion at last year’s SBC annual meeting, was an attempt to respond to questions about WMU’s loyalty to the SBC.
But in debate Tuesday afternoon at the SBC annual meeting in Greensboro, N.C., messengers said there is no question about the women’s auxiliary’s exclusive commitment to Southern Baptist missions.
“There is no question of WMU loyalty to the Southern Baptist Convention,” said Joy Bolton, WMU executive director for Kentucky. Bolton invited messengers to stop by the WMU booth in the SBC exhibit hall and review WMU materials.
“You will find WMU promotes and teaches Southern Baptist missions from cover to cover,” she said. “This has always been the case and always will be. We are an auxiliary to the Southern Baptist Convention.”
Polled by officers, the WMU executive board voted to “respectfully request that WMU continue as an auxiliary.”
“We would ask that you honor our board of directors’ decision and vote no on this recommendation,” WMU president Kaye Miller asked messengers.
SBC president Bobby Welch ruled the Executive Committee recommendation failed on a show of ballots.
Leslie Stock, a member of First Baptist Church in Boonville, Mo., made the original motion inviting the WMU to become an entity of the convention in part to “have assurance the WMU is and will remain on the same theological page as the SBC.”
Stock said she is uncomfortable with WMU’s decision to continue to relate to the Baptist World Alliance after the SBC severed ties with the group in 2004 and with the fact that, contrary to the SBC, WMU refuses to recognize only one Baptist state convention in Missouri.
WMU Executive Director Wanda Lee last year accepted an invitation to speak at the annual meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Missouri, a breakaway group from the Missouri Baptist Convention formed in 2002. The executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention urged Lee to cancel the commitment, but she refused.
The SBC cooperates with breakaway conventions in Virginia and Texas, where conservatives split from moderate-leaning established conventions, but does not accept funds from the Baptist General Convention of Missouri, formed by moderates tired of theological battles in the Missouri Baptist Convention.
Stock said Lee’s insistence to speak to the “liberal” convention “left many questioning the direction the WMU was taking” and, “Many, including myself, were hurt by this obvious disregard for the SBC and our state convention.”
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.