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North American Mission Board questioning D.C. Conventioncomment (0)

January 3, 2002

The Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) North American Mission Board (NAMB) has requested that the District of Columbia Baptist Convention (DCBC) change its structure so the two entities can continue their partnership.

In an Oct. 24 letter to D.C. Baptist leaders, NAMB outlined a number of conditions for continued funding of Baptist work in Washington after next year. Among them are hiring a NAMB representative to supervise DCBC employees partially or completely funded by NAMB and administer funds in consultation with the D.C. Convention’s executive director.

In addition, the proposal also calls for DCBC leadership to refrain from “denigrating the SBC,” speakers at DCBC meetings to “reflect theological tenets of the SBC,” and “criticism toward the SBC [to] follow the biblical pattern of Matthew 18.”

Baptist leaders in Washington responded with indignation to the proposal, saying it violates traditional Baptist forms of church government, where state conventions and the SBC cooperate with each other but are considered autonomous in their own spheres. DCBC is aligned with American Baptists and a predominantly African-American Baptist convention as well.

Jeffrey Haggray, DCBC executive director, said Southern Baptist provide $475,000 of the DCBC’s $1.5 million budget in the form of salary subsidies and program dollars.

Haggray said the requirements would change the unique character of DCBC and “impugn our cherished three-way relationship with the SBC, American Baptist Churches/USA and Progressive National Baptist Convention.”

“It concerns me,” Haggray added, “that, at a time when we have a convention that is not conflicted like … other Southern Baptist state conventions, that [NAMB] would seek to superimpose conflict on our convention.”

Haggray criticized the proposal in an article carried in the DCBC monthly newsletter, the Capital Baptist.

“The proposal would undermine our autonomy and subjugate the work of our departments and staff to an appointee from NAMB … segregating Southern Baptist churches from American Baptist and Progressive National Baptist churches,” Haggray wrote.

“[NAMB] has been concerned for some time that the significant difference between the three denominations with which the DCBC is aligned would make our partnership increasingly difficult,” said NAMB president Robert E. Reccord.

“Those differences are evident in each denomination’s theological directions, mission priorities and financial commitments to the D.C. Convention,” Reccord said.

(Compiled from wire services)

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