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My friend Vic Ramsey, a respected pastor in the northeast corner of the state, posted an intriguing comment to my recent blog about the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina meeting in Greensboro. He raises an important question and invites response. I don’t want it to be lost at the bottom of a long list of comments, so I’m pasting it here in full:

Was anyone else taken aback by the comments of the Convention’s attorney during the debate on the WMU amendment at Wednesday morning’s session?

To begin with, he was given the floor while other messengers were waiting to speak, and when no messenger in debate had asked a legal question which required clarification.

Then, in his remarks, he cited the potential bankruptcies of some Roman Catholic dioceses as a reason to vote against the amendment.

Here are my questions:

1. Isn’t it true that those dioceses are in that predicament due to their cover-up of sexual misconduct of priests?

2. Isn’t it true that Roman Catholic priests are predominantly male?

3. Would it be fair to say that, if a messenger hearing the attorney’s statement drew the conclusion that voting for the budget amendment was also a vote to endanger our children and bankrupt our convention, that would be an unfortunate misunderstanding of his intent?

The BSC leadership advanced its proposal and its opposition to the inclusion of WMU in the NCMO on the basis of the principle that no entity not directly connected to the convention should receive NCMO funds, because there would be no accountability regarding the use of those funds.

I have four questions:

1. Does the Executive Committee and Board of Directors consider the 100 Baptist associations to be “directly connected” to the convention?

2. In what sense are the associations “accountable” to the convention?

3. Will an association have to submit its hiring decisions to the Executive Director/Treasurer for approval before receiving its share of the NCMO?

4. If the answers to the above questions are “no”, then it appears to me that the principle advanced by the BSC leadership is violated 100 times by their own proposal. So, what is so wrong about violating that same principle the 101st time?

I look forward to responses from other readers.

I find Ramsey’s point about the supposed “direct relationship” requirement particularly pertinent (to make one correction, I believe the number of associations is about 80 rather than 100: some cross county lines).

I am aware that the associations sign specific partnership agreements with the Convention for each budget cycle, outlining how much money they hope to receive from the Convention and what projects they plan to fund with it. To my knowledge, except for a cooperative sharing of reports, that is the extent of any formal arrangements that would make associations “accountable” to the BSC.

Is there any good reason that WMU-NC could not also sign an agreement regarding specific funds to be received and how the organization plans to use them?

Another question comes to mind: the president of the state’s Baptist Associational Missions Conference has a seat on the BSCNC’s executive committee, as does the president of WMU-NC and the president of North Carolina Baptist Men. It’s all spelled out in the BSC-NC bylaws (which can be downloaded here). Members of the Baptist Associational Missions Conference are employees of the individual associations they serve, not of the convention.

Does inclusion as a partnering organization in the BSCNC bylaws not constitute a “direct connection”? Obviously, employment by the Convention is not required in the case of the associations: why should it be different for WMU-NC?

Vic has raised an excellent question.

What think ye?

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