I've only ever been to one Baptist state convention. I spent one day in Warner Robbins, GA at the Georgia convention, and was pretty much bored to tears. The conflict that everyone thought would happen didn't, so I spent most of the day wandering the exhibits and reading pamphlets.
So I wasn't expecting much yesterday when I went to the Kentucky Baptist Convention
. Vote for the president, listen to the sermon, hook up with some people I know, that sort of thing.
I walked into controversy. In fact, if I didn't have a very important class this morning, I'd have gone back, and probably would have addressed the convention on one issue this morning.
Yesterday there was a proposal to study "how the KBC should relate to the Baptist World Alliance." A nine-member panel would be appointed to research the issue. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but we just DID that on the national level. The national convention has more money to sink into the study, and more resources, so why can't we simply review the data from their study and base our path on that?
Because a bunch of people in Kentucky don't like what the national study found. And I don't have a problem with disagreements -- unless you're the guy who sat behind me yesterday. He kept heckling people who were peaking against the proposal, yelling out "That's not true!!" -- but NEVER taking the mike and voicing his opinion. Truthfully, everyone's minds were pretty much made up on the issue before the discussion started, and the vote was narrowly opposed to the study. Individual churches who want to support the BWA can still do so -- that's the beauty of the Convention -- but churches who don't want to support them don't have to worry about their money going to the BWA
Another proposal (one that I was amazed even made it to the floor) was that we ammend the constitution of the state convention to allow "up to 25%" of the trustee board of state Baptist colleges to be NON-BAPTISTS. I have NO problem with people who aren't Baptists -- I am friends with good, conservative, theologically sound Presbyterians and Anglicans, with whom I agree to disagree on matters that are not essential to the faith (more on that in another post, maybe later today). But if the school is a Baptist school, shouldn't the people overseeing it be Baptist? The purpose of the proposed ammendment wasn't to give "greater diversity" -- it was to reward community members with large pocketbooks for donating to the school. State Baptist colleges are in bad shape anyway -- they are notorious breeding grounds for any number of heretical notions, from process theology to open theism and beyond. We need strong Baptist trustees who can take charge of our state colleges, and I'm hoping that we'll begin to see that in the next few years, especially in Kentucky. There is a reason that so many Southern Baptists send their kids to Liberty and Cedarville -- because they get a quality education AND orthodox theological training.
And this morning, the convention revisits the "pull our kids out of public schools" issue. By now, the discussion is over. I REALLY wanted to be there, but I know someone who feels the same way that I do -- and is a youth minister, so his words carry more clout than mine would -- and he was planning on being there.
All in all, an interesting experience. And next year should be even more interesting, I think, as both sides marshal their forces for a big showdown.