Ted & Frances York's Response to Letter of Termination

Following this greeting to their family and friends are five letters written by missionaries Ted and Frances York of West Africa, giving reasons and making responses why they cannot sign the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message.

Dear Family and Friends,

Greetings to each of you.  This week has been one of the most difficult times that we have ever experienced.  We have been faced with an important decision concerning our future.  We are sharing the letters that we have written this week so that you can make this a matter of prayer as we seek to follow God's will for our lives.

The following is a letter that we have just sent to all of our missionary personnel in the Kru, Kwa, and Yoruboid affinity group in West Africa.   Following this letter, we have included what we sent to our regional leader in October 2002 (so that you can see where our differences are with the 2000 BF&M document), our response to Dr. Rankin’s “Final Appeal” letter, and a letter that we wrote to the chairman of the IMB trustees and copied to the trustees on the West Africa committee, both of which were sent yesterday, April 25, 2003.

Blessings,

Ted & Frances York

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(1) Dear Missionary Colleagues,

We had hoped that we would not find ourselves writing you this letter, but the moment has come when we must share with you what is happening with us.  A year ago in January, at a Regional Strategy Team spiritual retreat, we were informed that all missionary personnel were going to be asked to “affirm” the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message.  The definition of affirm meant that one must sign a statement that read: “In accountability to the International Mission Board and Southern Baptists, I agree to carry out my responsibilities in accordance with and not contrary to the current Baptist Faith and Message as adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention.”  We chose not to sign. We received an e-mail copy of the “Final Appeal” letter from Jerry Rankin last Tuesday, April 22, in which he asked us to affirm the current BF&M or to consider resigning.  We have not sensed leadership from God’s Holy Spirit to resign.  Because we have chosen not to sign or resign before the May 5, 2003 deadline given by Dr. Rankin, he will be recommending that the IMB trustees take action to terminate our service in its May meeting with the expectation that we leave the field by July 1.  We are in the process of negotiating this date with Bill in order to allow us more time for closure with you and our West African partners.

Because a system of accountability has been in place ever since we were appointed in 1982 and has continued throughout our service to date, we do not see the need for our signature on a document that will not make us any more accountable than we already are.  We believe that we have been in harmony with the IMB’s accountability system from the very beginning.  We do not understand how our 1982 appointment process holds little ground now, when we both had to write a statement of our doctrinal beliefs and state that our doctrinal beliefs were “in substantial agreement with those printed in the Baptist Faith and Message and adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention.”  We were interviewed by the Africa committee of the Foreign Mission Board as well as spent eleven weeks of observation and orientation at Calloway Gardens and were found to be in line with the Baptist beliefs.  Over the years on the field, we have continued to be evaluated by our leadership and peers.  Like you, we have done regular covenants, ours being with the regional leader, and that is a time when inconsistencies can be spotted and dealt with.

An article in the February 3, 2001 issue of the Biblical Recorder reported on the January 24 trustee meeting saying that “IMB trustees ... described their new policy statement as an affirmation of the BF&M, board policy and current personnel, who will not be requested to sign the statements.”  Furthermore, trustees decided there was no need to change the current practice since “the current practice is adequate.”  We believe that the accountability process as outlined in board policy is still adequate without requiring current personnel to sign the 2000 BF&M.

We do not believe that at any time during our service on the field we have given any reason to cause the IMB to ask us to resign or be terminated.  We have sought to serve with integrity and loyalty and in harmony with the Foreign Mission Board/International Mission Board policies since our 1982 appointment.  

It is with great sadness that we await our possible termination from the IMB.  At least we know that this termination does not mean termination in the Lord’s service.  

We will enclose what we sent to Bill in October 2002, so that you can see where our differences are with the 2000 BF&M document.  We will also include our response to Dr. Rankin’s “Final Appeal” letter that we sent yesterday, April 25, 2003.

Forever in His Grace,

Ted & Frances York

“God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them”  ~ Hebrews 6:10

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(2) Ted (York) re-wrote the statements on the BF&M form and sent the following to Bill Bullington [of the International Mission Board] in October 2002:

· I have read the current Baptist Faith and Message. ¨ Yes ¨ No

To this statement, I checked "yes" and wrote the following:

As I did both in 1974, as a candidate for missionary journeyman, and in 1982, as a candidate for career missionary appointment, I can say that I am familiar with the contents of the Baptist Faith and Message and that my doctrinal beliefs are "in substantial agreement with those printed in the Baptist Faith and Message and adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention".  However, there are certain changes made or additions to the 2000 edition of the Baptist Faith and Message with which I am in disagreement.

1. In the "Preamble", rather than using the phrase "priesthood of the believer", the phrase was changed to "priesthood of believers" thereby not affirming the competency of every soul before God.  Also in the "Preamble", I am disturbed by the addition of the statement "as instruments of doctrinal accountability."  This seems to indicate that this document could be used as a creed to enforce doctrinal uniformity and to judge orthodoxy, as has been the case in some of our Baptist associations in North Carolina.

2. In the article "I. The Scriptures", the phrase "The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ" (taken from the BF&M 1963), has been removed. With the deletion this statement, it appears that the BF&M 2000 Study Committee abandons the doctrine of soul competency.  Every believer, because of his or her personal relationship with Jesus Christ, has the promise of illumination from the indwelling Christ (the Holy Spirit).

3. In the article "II. B. God the Son", the word "substitutionary" is added ("in His substitutionary death on the cross").  I certainly believe in the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ on the cross.  However, this is not the "only" Baptist way to understand the nature of atonement.  The Bible gives us many images and metaphors to help us understand the nature and meaning of Christ’s death – redemption, ransom, reconciliation, justification, self-sacrifice, victory, etc.

4. In the article "IV. The Church", the statement "… the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture" is added.  Baptist polity, with due regard for the autonomy of the local church, has historically left the choice of church leaders in the hands of the local church, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.  Some of the Baptist conventions/unions in West Africa with which I work do allow for the ordination of women and at least one of our seminaries is training women in preaching and in pastoral ministry.  I believe that each local congregation should be free to choose its leaders under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

I did not sign the following statement.

· In accountability to the International Mission Board and Southern Baptists, I agree to carry out my responsibilities in accordance with and not contrary to the current Baptist Faith and Message as adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention.

Signature _____________________________________            Date _________________________________

However, I wrote my own statement and signed that one.

· In accountability to the International Mission Board (SBC) and before God, I agree to carry out my responsibilities in accordance with and not contrary to the Bible, through the illumination of the Holy Spirit who enables Christians to understand truth.  By signing this document, I re-affirm my commitment to Jesus Christ, the living Word of God, and to the authority of Scripture, the written Word of God, the sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists.

Signature ______________________________________        Date __________________________________

 

(3) Frances [York] wrote the following response, going over point-by-point her disagreements with the new 2000 BF&M.  She signed what she had written and sent it along with the unchecked and unsigned form to our RL [regional leader].

Every decision becomes a destination and God has an answer for all.  I sincerely want to remain in an attitude of humble teachability, because I believe in doing so that I will recognize when God opens or closes a door.  I struggle with what man directs with the BF&M issue.   I see politics and power at the core of the decision to have missionary personnel sign the document.   I have my reasons for why I feel very strongly against putting my signature on the new BF&M.   

My personal relationship with God – my call – is what He created me for.  I know that to be His purpose.  It is my joy to feel His presence every day!  If it were right for me to sign, I believe that I would have some delight in my heart because my pleasure comes from following Him.  I am cold with the BF&M issue. 

I looked at Acts 15 as a bit like the situation with the IMB.  There is a problem at hand and a lot of folks are unfocussed on God’s task because of the issue of circumcision.  Some men came from Judea to Antioch teaching that only those who are circumcised can be saved – according to the law of Moses. Then Paul and Barnabas and some other believers get upset about what is being taught and they travel to Jerusalem to go before the council of elders and apostles concerning this issue.  Some of the Pharisees stood up and said, “ The gentiles have to be circumcised…”  After the apostles and elders met to consider this question, Peter steps in and says (Acts 15:7 – 8), “ Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the Gospel and believe!  GOD WHO KNOWS THE HEART showed that He accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as He did for us.  He made no distinction between us and them FOR HE PURIFIED THEIR HEARTS BY FAITH.  Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples A YOKE that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear?  NO!  We believe it is THROUGH THE GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS that we are saved, just as they are. “

God knows my heart and He has given me the Holy Spirit to guide me just as He has been doing ever since I was commissioned July 13, 1982. – and even before that in November of 1965 when I accepted Him into my heart as a young child.  He has purified my heart by faith. 

The 2000 BF&M document is like a yoke that those who have gone before us have not had to bear.  Those missionaries who gave 25 – 35 and even 40 some years of service to the Lord before us, planted many seeds and some who were even killed for the cause of Christ did not bear the yoke that we are being asked to bear.  We through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ serve with integrity and loyalty. 

The specific areas of difference that I have with the current BF&M document are:

·         It appears to be used as a tool for doctrinal accountability – when tools have already been established for many years.

·         This was omitted – “The sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists is Jesus-Christ, whose will is revealed in the Holy Scriptures.”  I think it should have been left in.

·         The 1963 BF&M says, “The criterion by which the Bible is interpreted is Jesus-Christ.”  That’s good.  The 2000 BF&M says, “All scripture is a testimony to Christ, who Himself is the focus of divine revelation.”  I don’t like that.  Before we would ask, what would Jesus say?  What would Jesus do?  But the 2000 BF&M makes no allowance for this.

·         Concerning the role of women:  it seems that the 2000 BF&M infringes on the role of local churches to interpret scripture and discern God’s will.  I see many women in roles in our West African churches.  I would be lying if I signed the 2000 BF&M document knowing that this goes on and I don’t plan to be dishonest just to keep a job.

·         I have a problem with the local church autonomy statement.  Local congregations SHOULD seek to follow God’s will and especially when selecting a pastor and church staff.  Sadly enough, the 20 year SBC controversy (which I think the BF&M issue is stemming from), has been an obstacle to effective ministry and missions.  Though – by God’s grace and the faith of His faithful servants, God continues to work His will through the mess.  I sincerely believe that there are a lot of lost blessings!  It almost seems that it would be better if we took the “Baptist” name off, as it has become one of the greatness weaknesses in the churches ability to communicate the gospel in our culture.  We (Baptists) formed to obey the Great Commission, and now that is a major obstacle in carrying it out!

·         NO CREED BUT THE BIBLE:  I don’t think that the BF&M was ever meant to become a creed, but in my opinion, it has and Webster’s defines creed as:  a brief authoritative formula of religious beliefs;  a set of fundamental beliefs;  a guiding principle.  My question:  Is it a broad statement of general beliefs or will it become a “test” of fellowship among our partnering Baptist churches?   Will our African brothers and sisters who serve at our seminaries be asked to sign a statement in order to make them accountable?  Baptists always have believed we are accountable to God and to the Holy Scripture.  But never have we believed we are accountable to a confession of faith.

·         SOUL COMPETENCY:  I believe every person is capable of sorting out his or her relationship to God directly.  I believe an individual’s conscience is holy ground and sacred territory.  Genuine faith cannot be coerced (such as signing the BF&M), rather, it comes as a result of an individual encounter with God!   What does soul competency mean to me?   It means that Christ and the Holy Spirit are sufficient for interpreting any scriptures appropriately with or without a majority!

·         PRIESTHOOD OF THE BELIEVER: With the addition of one small letter, “s” , this statement was made:  We honor the principles of soul competency and the priesthood of believerS, affirming together both our liberty in Christ and our accountability to each other under the Word of God.  It’s a subtle change that seems to focus not on the individual experience, but rather accountability to an approved belief system.  We are all works in progress.  The Lord has poured out His Spirit on each of us and given gifts to His people that we might minister and we can do it before God under the authority of Scripture whether we stand alone or whether we stand in a crowd.   A verse that speaks to the individuality of how God works in each person is 2 Timothy 2:15.  It says, “Study to show thyself (singular) approved unto God, a workman (singular) that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing (interpreting) the word of truth (Scriptures) in the name of Jesus.

·         IMPORTANCE OF SCRIPTURE:  I recognize that JESUS IS THE LIVING WORD OF GOD!   He can’t be confined to words on a page!   I worship Christ as Lord not Scripture as Lord.  It seems that the more emphasis is placed on the Bible than on Jesus Christ.

 “His word will be our anchor when our faith is tossed like the waves!

 Frances York

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4. [Letter by the Yorks to IMB president Jerry Rankin] 

 

Dear Jerry,

Last weekend, while reading some Easter devotionals, we looked at the story of Joseph of Arimathea in the Gospel of Mark's account of the burial of Jesus.  In the devotional guide it said « Joseph a compris que c’était lui de prendre le risque et de sortir de sa réserve » [“Joseph understood that it was up to him to take the risk and to leave his comfort zone” (Le Lecteur de la Bible, 49)].  In further study on the life of this man, it is seen that Joseph of Arimathea was “a disciple of Jesus, although secretly, for … he was fearful of publicly committing himself” (Illustrated Davis Dictionary of the Bible, 437).  But in asking for Jesus’ body, Joseph displayed great courage for he was willing to meet the possible resentment of Pilate and to face the certain hatred of the Jews.

In a way, since January 2002, we have been like Joseph of Arimathea – passively silent, fearful of publicly committing ourselves concerning your request to sign an affirmation of the 2000 BF&M.  We have been unwilling to take the risk – the risk of some people misunderstanding our position, the risk of being seen as rebels, and the risk of letting this issue become a distraction from the greater task of missions in West Africa.  However, the time has come for us to risk taking a stand.  We are aware that some people will criticize us for the stand that we are taking.  Nevertheless, we can no longer remain silent. 

We received an electronic copy of your “Final Appeal” on Tuesday, April 22, and would like to respond to certain points that you make your letter.

You say that what you are asking “is not unlike the commitment you were asked to make when you were appointed” and that it is “inaccurate” for the Baptist Faith and Message “to be perceived as a creed being imposed on individuals.”  In Ted’s written response (given to Bill Bullington in October 2002) on the form that was sent, he checked that he had read the current Baptist Faith and Message and then wrote: “As I did both in 1974, as a candidate for missionary journeyman, and in 1982, as a candidate for career missionary appointment, I can say that I am familiar with the contents of the Baptist Faith and Message and that my doctrinal beliefs are ‘in substantial agreement with those printed in the Baptist Faith and Message and adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention’.  However, there are certain changes made or additions to the 2000 edition of the Baptist Faith and Message with which I am in disagreement.”  He then listed four points of disagreement.  Even with these points of disagreement, we would both say that our doctrinal beliefs are in substantial agreement with those printed in the 2000 BF&M.  The problem is not so much with what the 2000 BF&M says but with how it is being used – as a measuring stick for orthodoxy among our missionary personnel.  By requiring that we sign a form affirming that we will carry out our responsibilities “in accordance with and not contrary to the current Baptist Faith and Message” in order to continue service with the International Mission Board, this confession of faith is being used as a creed. 

You further imply that we are among those “missionary personnel whose personal beliefs are not consistent with those held by Southern Baptists or those unwilling to affirm that they will work in accountability with these doctrinal positions” and state that we are unwilling “to be accountable to Southern Baptists who send and support you.”  We believe that we have been in harmony with the IMB's accountability system from the very beginning.  We do not understand how our 1982 appointment process holds little ground now, when we both had to write a statement of our doctrinal beliefs and state that our doctrinal beliefs were “in substantial agreement with those printed in the Baptist Faith and Message and adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention.”  We were interviewed by the Africa committee of the Foreign Mission Board as well as spent eleven weeks of observation and orientation at Calloway Gardens and were found to be in line with the Baptists beliefs.  Over the years on the field, we have continued to be evaluated by our leadership and peers.  A system is in place to check for heresy or other things that go against Baptist beliefs or the way that we function as Southern Baptists.  We do regular covenants with our regional leader and that is a time when inconsistencies can be spotted and dealt with.  Somewhere the biblical process of coming to the one with whom you have the problem has been skipped.  Those of us who have not signed have all been lumped into the category of those “whose personal beliefs are not consistent with those held by Southern Baptists” and now we are considered the ones who will “erode the credibility and support of the International Mission Board”.

In place of the accountability statement that you proposed on the form, Ted reworded and affirmed (or “signed”) the following statement: “In accountability to the International Mission Board (SBC) and before God, I agree to carry out my responsibilities in accordance with and not contrary to the Bible, through the illumination of the Holy Spirit who enables Christians to understand truth.  By signing this document, I re-affirm my commitment to Jesus Christ, the living Word of God, and to the authority of Scripture, the written Word of God, the sole authority for faith and practice among Baptists.”  Our accountability is to God first and then to the IMB – the organization that God is using to “send” us into His “harvest field”.  Being accountable to the IMB, we have not deviated from the policy set forth in the Manual for Field Personnel (MFP) concerning the Baptist Faith and Message [i.e., “The persistent advocating of doctrinal opinions inconsistent with the Baptist Faith and Message (BF&M)”] and have never, to our knowledge, been accused of teaching contrary to the Baptist Faith and Message.

One of the reasons that we cannot sign the form affirming that we will carry out our responsibilities “in accordance with and not contrary to the current Baptist Faith and Message” is because of our work and our relationship with our Baptist partners (the Baptist conventions and Unions) here in West Africa.  Jerry, you said in your January 30, 2002 letter to IMB missionaries: “The BF&M responds to an American culture that is sliding rapidly into relativism, and it is altogether appropriate for Southern Baptists to stand for a united expression of what we believe.”  The BF&M is for Southern Baptists in the United States not for our Baptist partners in Bénin, Togo, Côte d’Ivoire, or Liberia.  It would be ethically wrong and certainly inconsistent with Baptist teachings to impose the BF&M upon our West African Baptist conventions and unions.  Many of our West African Baptist churches have practices that are foreign to American Southern Baptists, but most Christians would consider these among the non-essentials of the faith.  Yet, in order to be accountable and because of our personal integrity, there would be the expectation to use the BF&M to insist on doctrinal uniformity with beliefs held by Southern Baptists.  If local Baptist conventions and unions hold positions that are different from those stated in the BF&M, this could also lead our IMB missionaries to establish separate churches which would not cooperate with the local conventions and unions, causing disagreement, distrust, and controversy.  Although the SBC constitution declares it will never exercise authority over other Baptist bodies, currently the 2000 BF&M is being used to measure the orthodoxy of local churches in the states, as has been the case in some of our Baptist associations in my home state of North Carolina.  If we, as Southern Baptist missionaries who have served over twenty years on the field, are being pressured to sign a form endorsing the 2000 BF&M, could we say with sincerity that this will not be required in the future for those Baptist conventions and unions who want to work in partnership with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention?

You ask us to “consider resigning rather than maintaining a position that would undermine the integrity and credibility of the IMB”.  What is the position that we are maintaining that should lead us to consider resigning?  We are not aware of any IMB policy that we have not followed and have never been accused of “failure to maintain a lifestyle expected of IMB field personnel” or “failure to perform duties expected of IMB field personnel.”  We are neither guilty of any misconduct nor of any false teaching.  In addition, we have not sensed leadership from God’s Holy Spirit to resign.  Therefore, we will not be resigning before your May 5, 2003 deadline.

We take heart in how our son, who is currently serving as a missionary journeyman in France, responded last year when we told him that we didn’t sense God’s leadership either to sign the form or to resign.  He wrote: “The IMB is to me simply an employer, nothing else.  Perhaps that is harsh sounding, but truthfully I’m not here because they sent me. I’m here because God called me, and provided the means through the organization called the International Mission Board.  The IMB doesn’t send missionaries; God does that.  [That’s why I say] the IMB is, in my books, just an employer.”  God has used the FMB/IMB to allow us to serve Him for almost twenty-three years in West Africa.  If it is God’s will that we continue to serve Him on the mission field, even here in West Africa, He will provide the means.

Sincerely,

Ted & Frances York

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(5) Letter [from the Yorks] to Bob Claytor, Chairman of the IMB Board of Trustees, and copied to the trustees on the West Africa Committee:

Dear Bob,

Greetings from West Africa!

We are joining with some others who have already written to you, the trustees of the International Mission Board (SBC), asking that you hear our concerns from the field as some of us are faced with the choice to resign or be terminated from our place of service.   After the IMB press release that we received on April 11 with a deadline of May 5 to “affirm” (sign) the 2000 BF&M, we waited for our official letter from Dr. Rankin.   After 11 days of not receiving any letter, Ted contacted Dr. Rankin and we were emailed a letter.  It disturbed us that not more care was taken to make sure that each missionary involved had received his or her letter from Dr. Rankin prior to this public announcement.

Because a system of accountability has been in place ever since we were appointed in 1982 and has continued throughout our service to date, we do not see the need for our signature on a document that will not make us any more accountable than we already are.   We believe that we have been in harmony with the IMB’s accountability system from the very beginning.  We do not understand how our 1982 appointment process holds little ground now, when we both had to write a statement of our doctrinal beliefs and state that our doctrinal beliefs were “in substantial agreement with those printed in the Baptist Faith and Message and adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention.”   We were interviewed by the Africa committee of the Foreign Mission Board as well as spent eleven weeks of observation and orientation at Calloway Gardens and were found to be in line with the Baptist beliefs.   Over the years on the field, we have continued to be evaluated by our leadership and peers.   We do regular covenants with our regional leader and that is a time when inconsistencies can be spotted and dealt with.  Somewhere the biblical process of coming to the one with whom you have the problem has been skipped.  Those of us who have not signed have all been lumped into the category of those “whose personal beliefs are not consistent with those held by Southern Baptists.”

In his January 30, 2002 letter to IMB missionaries, Dr. Rankin wrote to us saying that “signing the BF&M would protect missionaries from charges of heresy behind your back while you are overseas and unable to defend yourself.”  I n our opinion, a signature would be a very weak way to defend oneself if he or she was charged with heresy.   We would prefer to stand before the accuser, hear the accusation, and be able to speak to the issue as one who holds our Christian values high.   Anyone can sign a piece of paper and then do whatever he or she pleases.   The percentage of those of us, the “non-signers”, who remain on the field, is small; but there are many years of devoted service and many more waiting to be had if allowed to continue in service with the IMB. 

It was our responsibility to make sure that the missionary personnel in our region received the information concerning the request by Dr. Rankin to affirm the BF&M document with their signature.  While we ourselves had no peace about signing it, we presented the information without expressing our stance and then left it for the personnel to decide what they needed to do.  We feel very strongly that this decision is between the missionary and God and if one chooses to sign, then we continue our support as we have over these past months since the waters “got stirred.”  We love and support our missionary personnel and can say to all the trustees that they are dedicated to God first, loyal to the IMB and have a true passion for God’s people in West Africa.

We have not at any time during our service on the field given any reason to cause the IMB to ask us to resign or be terminated.   We have served with integrity and loyalty and in harmony with the Foreign Mission Board/International Mission Board policies since our 1982 appointment.  Does our appointment process of long ago hold no ground for us today as we are faced with the reality of termination? 

An article in the February 3, 2001 issue of the Biblical Recorder reported on the January 24 trustee meeting saying that “IMB trustees ... described their new policy statement as an affirmation of the BF&M, board policy and current personnel, who will not be requested to sign the statements.”  Furthermore, trustees decided there was no need to change the current practice since “the current practice is adequate.”  We believe that the accountability process as outlined in board policy is still adequate without requiring current personnel to sign the 2000 BF&M.

The IMB pamphlet Opportunities of International Service says, “Career missionaries are the foundation of our mission effort.”  As career missionaries we have been a part of that foundation.  Frances' dad was an architect and, while she had little interest in that field herself, she can remember as a child how important it was to him that the foundation be solid in any of the buildings for which he drew plans.  Her dad knew his buildings would last if their foundations were strong and were not damaged!  The same might be said for the IMB mission effort.  Even if it was only one career missionary that resigned or was terminated over this issue, that is one block of the foundation gone, and from what Frances learned from her dad, a foundation with damage will cause the structure to be weakened.  Bob, what will happen now as the foundation of the International Mission Board is being chipped away by the loss of its missionaries?

Our families and church friends are confused.  The idea of suspicion has been circulated before any case has been stated.  Veteran missionaries who have chosen to decline the request to sign are being accused of not being accountable, though signing has never been required for any of the previous BF&M documents.  What we are asking is that you, as trustees of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, not take action to terminate those veteran missionaries who have chosen to decline the request by Dr. Rankin to affirm the current Baptist Faith and Message.  As we said earlier, we believe that the accountability process as outlined in board policy is still adequate without requiring current personnel to sign the 2000 BF&M.

Sincerely,

Ted and Frances York

 

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