A Declaration of Support for the Baptist World Alliance
We, the members of the Smithland Baptist Church, relying on the truth of the Holy Scriptures, the leadership of the Holy Spirit, and the prayer of our living Lord, "That they all may be one.that the world may believe that thou hast sent me," do in the name and by the authority of the risen Lord of the Great Commission beseech our brothers in Christ on the Southern Baptist Convention BWA Study Committee and the SBC Executive Committee to consider the cataclysmic ecclesiastical and missiological consequences of the proposed recommendation that the Southern Baptist Convention withdraw membership and financial support from the Baptist World Alliance.
We, the people of the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention, believe our elected officers and committee members have a solemn obligation to provide full and accurate information to the Baptist constituency when making global recommendations that affect every cooperating church and Great Commission Christian. Broad, sweeping accusations and indictment for heresy based on hearsay, rather than documented evidence, has seldom been the Baptist way. And any civilized court would grant the accused a hearing or representation before pronouncing a guilty verdict. To fail to do so is not only a miscarriage of justice; for believers it is a clear disregard of the teachings of our Lord.
We further affirm our conviction that our relationship to the two hundred and eleven Baptist bodies which constitute the Baptist World Alliance has brought many blessings and benefits to Southern Baptists. A few among the many are:
1) An awareness of the commonality of our faith regardless of cultural or political differences.
2) The example of so many who have been faithful to Christ and his mission under oppression, persecution and poverty.
3) The prayers of nationals for our Southern Baptist missionaries and their ministries.
4) The valiant struggles for religious liberty, under hostile governments, that have led to open doors for witnessing.
5) The unpretentious lifestyles of thousands of our international Baptist friends lovingly teach us that self-indulgence, self-sufficiency, self-gratification, self-righteousness and self-glorification are not the way of the Master.
We believe there are dozens of strategic reasons why such a course of action should not be pursued, most of these being self-evident to the thousands of Southern Baptists who have given of their time, prayers, resources and organizational skills to assist our international Baptist brothers and sisters in building a fellowship that transcends race, language, culture, gender, geography, social and economic status, politics and government, and all forms of bias and tyranny over the minds and lives of the children of God.
We therefore implore the BWA Study Committee to withdraw its recommendation to the SBC Executive Committee. If the committee chooses not to withdraw the recommended action, we therefore respectfully request the Executive Committee, with love for fellow Baptists worldwide, to defeat this recommendation and reaffirm our commitment to the purpose and work of the Baptist World Alliance.
Adopted by the Smithland Baptist Church, Heathsville, Virginia, in regular church business meeting on this, the fourth day of February, in the year of our Lord, two thousand and four.
Sam Pittman, Pastor
Carlyle Swann, Moderator
Kay Klein, Church Clerk
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