buckin' it to county fair
Well, as far as we can determine, no one seems to be live-blogging the BGCT yet. (For this, we are thankful.) We have Responsibilities Here and are therefore not in Amarillo. The only real news I see so far is that according to the Baptist Standard, the registered messenger count as of 11am topped 1,500. That's huge.
For those of you lucky enough not to be Texas Baptists, this year's BGCT meeting is the most interesting in years. Pastor and blogger David Lowrie is challenging the presidential candidate supported by Texas Baptists Committed, there is lingering criticism over the tenures of outgoing executive director Charles Wade and chief operating officer Ron Gunter (who recently resigned), and for reasons that are entirely unclear to me, Rick Warren is speaking. Oh, and they may end up deciding whether or not to officially support the New Baptist Covenant.
Aaron explains the controversies over these various issues here, and here's an endorsement from the other side of the presidency issue. First vice-presidency candidate Lee Saunders Deep in the Heart also presents his view of the issues in a well-reasoned fashion, with an important plea for Christian civility.
We here at Texas in Africa are not into making endorsements, although we think this is the most important BGCT meeting since era of the Baylor charter change. I would love to see Texas Baptists elect a woman as president, because it would send an important signal about what kind of Baptists we are. I also think it's important that the West Texans who so faithfully support missions and the work of the BGCT feel that they are fairly represented in the body. But all in all, it doesn't matter what I think, because when it comes down to it, as FBC Floydada (Texas in Africa's childhood church) pastor Anthony Sisemore told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, "The result will 'depend on who shows up.'"
One thing I expect will be abundantly clear on the convention floor is that the BGCT isn't getting any younger. As with most Baptist meetings which, by necessity, are held in the middle of the week, the bulk of attendees will be those without young families or jobs that require them to be at home on a Monday afternoon. I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with such a state of affairs; no doubt those who attend the BGCT are much wiser and more experienced in these things than am I. They fought to keep this convention and its institutions out of the hands of the fundamentalists. For that, I am grateful.
But I wonder if the bulk of convention messengers realize how off-putting all this fighting is to Texas Baptists who are my age? Most of my peers don't have the same level of commitment to Baptist identity as did our parents and grandparents. I am commited to those ideals - the doctrines of soul competency and church freedom are vitally important to my theology - but the truth is that we are a post-denominational generation. And internal squabbling within our denomination is off-putting, especially when we think about what God calls us to do with respect to all the suffering of which we are acutely aware.
Quite frankly, I'm pretty tired of rehashing the Baptist wars, and so are most of my younger Baptist friends. We look around and see a world that is falling apart - children who are starving, an HIV/AIDS epidemic that is killing millions, wars that are festering - and, well, it can be difficult for us to care about who gets to be president of the BGCT. Why would I want to be part of a church that makes a bigger deal out of bureaucratic politics than out of serving the poor?
I don't want to imply that the issues the BGCT is debating in Amarillo this week are not important. They are, and it's good that attention is being paid. But my sincere hope is that whatever happens this weekend, it will allow Texas Baptists to get on with the mission of serving others and loving in Jesus' name.
(And hopefully my daddy will forgive me for linking to a Beth Pratt story.)