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RESOURCE CENTER AND ARCHIVES

Messengers adopt educational, social resolutionscomment (0)

November 21, 2013

By Bob Terry


Two resolutions submitted at the last minute resulted in Alabama Baptists officially entering the debate about the nationwide educational initiative called Common Core State Standards Initiative and the ongoing concern over governmental support of parochial and other nonpublic schools. 

In addition, messengers to the Nov. 12–13 annual meeting of the Alabama Baptist State Convention (ABSC) at Whitesburg Baptist Church, Huntsville, adopted resolutions dealing with other social issues including the Affordable Care Act, women’s health and safety, child sex abuse and biblical marriage.

Craig Carlisle, pastor of Twelfth Street Baptist Church, Gadsden, and chairman of the resolutions committee, said the Common Core resolution was submitted Nov. 10 after the resolutions committee had completed most of its report. The resolution supporting public and nonpublic schools was presented in the afternoon Nov. 12. 

“Most of us on the committee were not fully versed on Common Core,” Carlisle explained in an interview following the adoption of the report. He said the committee had to do its research “on the fly.” 

The committee found no current problems with the educational initiative, he continued, but wanted to lay a foundation of concern in case issues arose in the future.

“We are not endorsing or opposing Common Core,” he said. “We are establishing a precedent of concern.” 

The resolution expresses the fear that “some tenets of Common Core could be utilized to enable the federal government to dictate state curricula.” It calls on the state Legislature and the Alabama State Board of Education to “study and evaluate” Common Core and its effects on the educational system.

The resolution also urges the state to establish its own standards and curricula for Alabama public school students.

On Support of Public and Nonpublic Schools is the title of the resolution urging state leaders to “protect the educational autonomy of nonpublic schools.” The resolution outlines the parental responsibility for choosing the type of education appropriate for the child, references church schools as a ministry of local churches and affirms support for public and nonpublic schools before asking state leaders to protect nonpublic schools. 

The Alabama Baptist Christian Life Commission submitted the resolution opposing the contraceptive services mandate after the issue was referred to them during the 2012 annual meeting. The resolution called the requirement issued by the Department of Health and Human Services as part of the Affordable Care Act a “threat to the free exercise of religion guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.”

In addition to calling for withdrawal of the offensive mandate, the resolution commends the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and GuideStone Financial Resources for participating in legal actions to overturn the federal regulation. 

Messengers expressed appreciation to the Alabama Legislature and Gov. Robert Bentley for passing and signing the Women’s Health and Safety Act, which requires abortion centers to meet standards similar to those offering emergency health care. 

In 2012, messengers adopted a resolution urging the Alabama Legislature to adopt such a bill. 

Alabama Baptists were urged to “cooperate fully with law enforcement officials in reporting allegations or accusations of sexual abuse.” And messengers urged Alabama Baptists to “support safe and healthy” children’s ministries and commended resources made available by the ABSC. 

The resolution on Biblical Marriage called biblical family relationships “one of the most critical moral imperatives of our time.” The resolution declared “the sacred institution of marriage is now under destructive attack throughout our society.” 

Messengers expressed “enthusiastic support for those policies of public and private organization which aim to strengthen the biblical marriage commitment.” Churches and pastors were urged to make premarital and marital counseling a priority and the resources of Pathways Professional Counseling, a ministry of Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries, were commended. 

Carlisle noted that the 13 resolutions proposed by the committee were higher than normal and the number dealing with social issues was higher. 

“With the way our culture is going, it may be necessary for messengers to have to deal with more social issues in the years ahead,” he said. 

In other issues, Baptists:

Noted the impact of Royal Ambassadors (RA) on more than 2 million boys and commended the many dedicated RA leaders and members;

Affirmed the Cooperative Program (CP) as a God-given strategy to support and strengthen Southern Baptist efforts to share the gospel throughout the world and gave special commendation to SBC Executive Committee President Frank Page for leading the 1% CP Challenge; 

Called on Alabama Baptists to consider a day or season of service for ministry evangelism. The resolution noted such possibilities as migrant ministries, literacy efforts, refugee resettlement, health care clinics, pregnancy alternatives, post-abortion counseling, respite care and other possibilities; 

Commended University of Mobile retired professor Cecil Taylor who served in a variety of ways including dean of the school of Christian studies, director of in-service guidance and founder/director of the University Missions program;

Expressed appreciation to Mary Sue Bennett, who is retiring after serving as special assistant to the executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions since 1998;

Celebrated the ministry of Judson College in Marion on the occasion of its 175th anniversary and commended the school for “keeping faith with her mission of Christian higher education for women”;

Expressed appreciation to Whitesburg Baptist, Madison Baptist Association, convention officers and “all who contributed to the gracious spirit, impact on ministries and missions and overall effectiveness of this annual meeting.”  

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