Report of the Baptist World Alliance Study Committee
Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention
February 16-17, 2004


In an interim report released to the press on December 19, 2003, the BWA Study Committee noted that Southern Baptists have, for nearly 100 years, participated in the programs and fellowship of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA).  We also alluded to various examples demonstrating that in recent years the relationship had presented certain challenges and difficulties for us.  The report and recommendations herein presented to the Executive Committee briefly address issues raised more recently, and update our recommendations to include a proposal to invite select BWA representatives to meet with the BWA Study Committee between now and the 2004 meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in June.

First, we should perhaps comment upon the reaction to the earlier statement of our intent to recommend withdrawal from the BWA.  The tenor of the responses encompassed anger to sorrow and opposition to support. In a way, these negative reactions that emanated particularly from fellow BWA member body representatives were actually a blessing, in that they served to demonstrate to all interested evangelicals why we had been experiencing increasing discomfort in attempting to define the SBC to the world through the BWA.  Some member bodies had been led to believe our departure portended a kind of isolationism, and mourned the loss of a natural ally, but others (and even some of the BWA leadership, including its general secretary) took the opportunity to vent what appears to be pent up feelings of hostility about our Convention.  Due to these revelations, we need not now justify or vilify, but can simply do what we preferred to do in the first place, which is to politely withdraw from an organization that, at least for us, no longer efficiently communicates to the unsaved a crystal clear gospel message that our Lord Jesus Christ is solely sufficient for salvation.

Second, we note that much has been made about the inclusion of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) into the BWA as having been the cause of our present recommendation to withdraw from the organization.  One soaked by a rain need not blame the last raindrop.  We strongly affirm the right of the BWA to determine its own membership and affiliations.  It is the very right we now recommend that our Convention exercise.  The decision of the BWA to include the CBF merely served as a confirmation that we must, as a Convention, allow the world to see us without having to look through a BWA lens - a lens which, for us, has become too cloudy.

Third, we want to underscore that our departure is not intended to cast aspersion upon the many godly and enthusiastically evangelical Baptist fellowships that are members of the BWA.  We fully intend to continue to partner with our oldest and best friends worldwide, and to develop new and vibrant friendships and joint endeavors to reach the world for Christ.  Those who chose to cast this in any other way should not be allowed to dismay our Baptist brothers and sisters in Christ who long, as do we, to take a giant and unhesitant step forward in world outreach.  For us, the decision is one of stewardship.  If we can multiply the harvest by reapplying the funding, there is no true Christian who should take issue.
 

Therefore we, the BWA Study Committee appointed by the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, recommend to the Executive Committee the following:

That the Southern Baptist Convention withdraw its membership from the Baptist World Alliance, effective October 1, 2004, and encourage the Executive Committee and the Empowering Kingdom Growth (EKG) Task Force to continue studying how the Southern Baptist Convention may establish an even closer bond of fellowship with conservative evangelical Christians around the world for the purpose of growing in the grace of our loving Lord, preaching the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth, and bringing glory to His name through the advancement of Gods Kingdom on earth; and

That, effective October 1, 2004, the contribution to the Baptist World Alliance heretofore included in the annual SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget be deleted, making the funds available in the SBC Operating Budget to develop and execute a new and innovative strategy for continuing to build strong relationships with conservative evangelical Christians around the world as together we witness to the saving power of our Lord Jesus Christ; and

That the portion of the 2003-2004 SBC Operating Budget allocated to the Baptist World Alliance continue to be distributed, thus honoring the commitment for this fiscal year ending September 30, 2004; and, That the chairman of the BWA Study Committee invite select representatives of the Baptist World Alliance to meet in Nashville with the study committee prior to May 1, 2004.

Committee Members:
Morris H. Chapman, chairman
James T. Draper, Jr.
Thomas D. (Tom) Elliff
Paige Patterson
Paul Pressler
Jerry A. Rankin
Joe H. Reynolds
Gary A. Smith
R. L. (Bob) Sorrell

 

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