We should not be taken up in the search for truth, as to neglect the needful duties of active life; for it is only action that lives a true value and commendation to virtue. —Cicero
The ethical dilemma that plagues the North Carolina Baptist State Convention (BSCNC) and the Women’s Missionary Union-North Carolina (WMU-NC) seems to be one that is very difficult for all involved. The dilemma appears to be a dichotomy between pursuing missions and working together. However, it appears the dichotomy removes itself once there is an agreement on the definition of missions.
When one looks at the Lusanne Covenant, there is a clear difference in ministry and missions. However, the WMU-NC do not differentiate between the two. According to this report, Mrs Fulbright presented four statements that outlined the reasons behind the WMU-NC’s move. In the first statement she says;
Church planting and evangelism is the vision and current direction of the
BSCNC. WMU-NC has stated: “however, we are a missions organization
believing that missions is ministry and evangelism.”
This type of combining two completely different areas of service blur the lines of missions. According to the Lusanne Covenant missions is defined as church planting and evangelism. Without evangelism church planting will not take place. There is no church planting that can be accomplished through humanitarian ministry. Granted the humanitarian ministry opens the opportunity for missions to take place, but our aim is evangelism and church planting. If we are not going to present the Gospel with the clear intention of planting a church, then we are doing no more than advancing the name of Baptist. I love Southern Baptist and believe that North Carolina is headed down the right track to become more committed in identifying with the Southern Baptist Convention. But, if I have to choose between ministry, which advances the Southern Baptist or evangelism and church planting which advances Jesus, that is a no brainer–it is Jesus every time.
You may begin to hear that the WMU-NC is afraid that they will go the way of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS). Do you remember SEBTS? That bastion of moderates that refused to allow conservatives in any shape or form and only had one token “conservative” on faculty. Once the trustees gained a majority then president Dr. Randall Lolley stepped down. Once Dr. Lolley resigned some actually had a mock funeral to bury the seminary. Today there is over 2k FTE students. Not bad for a seminary that was supposed to be dead. The WMU-NC decided they no longer wanted to be considered an “auxiliary” of the BSCNC, but a “cooperative partner”.
“Cooperative Partner” is interesting language used by the WMU-NC. I understand that others use this term and one should not be concerned. However, it is very ironic that this is the term chosen when a majority of the leaders of the WMU-NC retain their membership in churches that clearly identify themselves with Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. With the CBF-NC coming to the rescue so quickly after the announcement of WMU-NC, it does make one question whether they knew this was going to happen. Let me explain. Thursday, August 16, 2007 there was a telephone conference call by 75% of the WMU-NC Executive Committee. That call ended in a vote to leave the BSCNC building. Tuesday, August 21, 2007 the leadership of the BSCNC was notified by the WMU-NC of their vote and intentions. On Thursday, August 23, 2007 the regular meeting of CBF-NC Coordinating Council was in session. According to this release, in this regularly scheduled meeting the CBF-NC Coordinating Council voted unanimously to support WMU-NC in their move and they also commissioned an emergency offering to raise funds for this transition. Coincident? It is hard to imagine. As a side note there is something that causes more concern for me. The President of the BSCNC Board of Directors had to request a proposal from WMU-NC in order to present this matter to the Executive Committee. How was this information made available to the Coordinating Council of the CBF-NC before it was to the very people who holds WMU-NC accountable?
The future looks as if it will be a tumultuous convention this year at Greensboro. I predict that if we maintain this level of contention the least attended session at this year’s convention will be the election of officers. One would also have to seriously ask a question. Mrs. Lisa Horton seemed to clearly articulate what is tearing apart my insides.
Is all this really worth it? When you think about the confusion this will bring to local churches and how this could affect the North Carolina Missions Offering, I keep asking if this is necessary.
Mrs. Cindy Stevens asked if the convention had done anything to bring about this drastic of a move by the WMU-NC . Here is what I believe to be the “real” reason behind the situation we find ourselves. Mrs. Fulbright responded it was the insistence of BSCNC to be final hiring authority.
Thus, I return to the statement by Cicero. This drastic move is not about missions, and neither is it about WMU-NC’s desire to expand their missions involvement. This, according to Mrs. Fulbright’s statement, appears to be a disagreement of an employee of the BSCNC and her refusal to be seen as such.