Saturday, July 8, 2017

Closing Texas Baptists Committed – inevitably but reluctantly
by Bill Jones, TBC executive director

With this blog post, I am announcing that – after almost three decades – Texas Baptists Committed will cease operations at the end of July 2017. Our Board of Directors voted yesterday, Friday, July 7.

In January 2016, the TBC Board and I convened a meeting of about 30 Baptist leaders from around Texas to discuss the future of Texas Baptists Committed. At that meeting, I announced that I planned to step down by July 1, 2017, and suggested that, for TBC to make a significant impact, the Board needed to look for an executive director who is younger than I am and has stronger credentials, and provide that executive director with a staff – at a minimum, an associate executive director and secretarial assistance.

Unfortunately, the funds never materialized to support any of that.

From one standpoint, this has been an easy decision – we simply no longer have the funds to sustain this ministry.

From another standpoint, this has been a difficult, gut-wrenching decision.

Funds have been tight at TBC at least since I first joined the Board in January 2006. With no visible “battle” for control of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, as there was through most of the 1990s, many Baptists just haven’t felt the urgent need for a “watchdog” like Texas Baptists Committed. “Battle fatigue” was a factor, too.

Donations dropped off even more after David Currie left in 2009, as TBC went virtually “silent” for over a year while our Board deliberated over its future, and many people thought it was gone. Some of them never came back.

So we have often had to rely on one or two large donations to offset the dwindling of the smaller ones. As I have talked with friends & colleagues involved with other nonprofits, I’ve discovered that this is a pretty common situation.

But the Board and I love Texas Baptists Committed, have a passion for its mission, and have worked to keep TBC going as long as we could. We appreciate the donors we do have, and we felt they deserved our best efforts to stay on the job as long as possible.

When David Currie was executive director, he often quoted his mother, Mary Jim, telling him to live in the “real world.” Well, the TBC Board and I have had to acknowledge that, in the “real world,” we need money to operate, and the funds just aren’t there anymore.

However, there is another, more positive, element to the timing of our move; in fact, it gives me a strong conviction that God is in this and has led us to this decision at this time. On August 1, as TBC comes to an end, our good friend Marv Knox will take over the leadership of CBF’s new Fellowship Southwest regional network.

At the founding of CBF in the early 1990s, the original national Baptists Committed organization was merged into CBF. The Texas chapter of Baptists Committed, led by David Currie, was the “functioning unit of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship” in Texas (Jimmy Allen, "The History of Baptists Committed," The Struggle for the Soul of the SBC: Moderate Responses to the Fundamentalist Movement, ed. Walter B. Shurden). Later, a separate CBF-Texas organization was formed, but intentionally kept a low profile so as not to get in the way of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, which remained under Moderate leadership because of TBC's efforts.

Two-plus decades later, conditions have changed. The BGCT executive director, David Hardage, has purposely established a relationship between the BGCT and Paige Patterson & Southwestern Seminary. The fox has been welcomed back into the chicken coop! Paige Patterson hasn’t changed; the BGCT, obviously, has. There are other reasons, as well, for concern about the direction of the BGCT.

So now there is a need for a more robust CBF presence; Fellowship Southwest will facilitate missions efforts across states in the region, but it also offers refuge to churches increasingly concerned about the direction of the BGCT.

In other words, if there were ever a propitious time to end the operations of Texas Baptists Committed, it is now, because our Board and I are confident that Fellowship Southwest will, in its own way, continue our work. Don’t get me wrong – CBF and Fellowship Southwest are not political organizations in the sense that Texas Baptists Committed has been, but they are committed to Baptist distinctives and will defend and promote them at every turn:
  • Priesthood of every believer
  • Soul competency
  • Local church autonomy
  • Religious liberty for all people, and the separation of church and state
  • Bible freedom

Rick McClatchy of CBF-Texas is also a longtime friend of mine and a longtime friend of TBC. He has done a remarkable work in Texas in a most difficult time. From the beginning of my tenure as executive director of TBC, I have considered two people to be my primary mentors in this position: Rick McClatchy and Suzii Paynter. Both have always been available to listen to my concerns and offer their wise counsel. Early in my tenure, Rick sat with me for 2 hours to educate me on postmodernism, because of its impact on today’s culture, including our Baptist culture, especially our young people.

Because of this kind of leadership at CBF-Texas and Fellowship Southwest, our Board and I can – with full confidence – encourage our donors to support them.

In the 11-1/2 years since I joined the TBC Board, including the 6-1/2 years that I’ve served as executive director, God has blessed me with the opportunity to serve alongside some of the finest people that I’ve ever known, starting with David Currie and on through a remarkable group of Board members, past and present. I’ll be reflecting on that in subsequent blog posts in the next 3 weeks.

In bringing this post to a conclusion, however, I simply want to thank the Texas Baptists Committed Board of Directors for the opportunity to lead this historic ministry as executive director. It has been a joyous ministry for me. I can only say “Amen” to what David Currie always said about this job – I never considered it a job but a joy, and I’ve loved every bit of it, every minute of it. I thank the TBC Board of Directors for their consistent support from Day One – they have been faithful to the end in their support of my work here. They have been my bosses, but we have worked together as friends and colleagues. Thanks be to God for their presence in my life, and their faithful stewardship of Texas Baptists Committed.

10 comments:

  1. Thank you, Bill Jones, for your committed leadership in exposing us to what Christians are doing and saying about the church and about world affairs. At some point Christians are going to have to get serious about following Jesus. In fundamentalism, there is a feel that we are living in the past and not looking to the future. God gives us a future with every sunrise and he gives us the chance to be better this day than we were the day before. All Christians of every faith, need to remember that Jesus said to love one another, and we need to follow his example in that love.

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    1. I appreciate your kind words, Shirley. It's been my privilege to link to your many excellent and challenging blog posts over the years. Thank you for your steadfast service as well.

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  2. You've been a blessing to me, Bill Jones!

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    1. Thanks, Les. The feeling is mutual, as you've been a blessing to me - both in your friendship and your excellent teaching in Epiphany Class. Thanks, too, for your promotion of the Roundup to our friends at Wilshire - your good words about the Roundup have always been an encouragement to me.

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  3. Hate to see this work come to an end, but agree there are positives in new work via the Fellowship Southwest under Marv's leadership. Thank you, David, for your rock-solid commitment. Prayers and best wishes as you begin a new chapter in your life.
    Carol Woodfin

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    1. I appreciate your kind words & best wishes, Carol (I assume you meant Bill, as David left TBC & started a "new chapter" years ago.) Thanks, too, for sending me a copy of your book. I regret that I never had time to read it & promote it. There are hundreds of books in my study that I haven't had time to read. I'm planning to finally have time to begin reading them now - and, as they stir my writing juices, to begin doing some writing on Baptist issues and ethical issues.

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  4. Thanks Bill for your faithful service. God bless you.

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  5. I am a product of loving, full on SBC churches, a state Baptist University and a BGCT affiliated Seminary. It is through Logsdon Seminary that I came to be on the TBC emailing list and began receiving the weekly updates. I just want to say to Mr. Jones and the TBC Board that I have appreciated the perspective of the various articles, blogposts, and news. I have also very much appreciated the tone and tenor of Mr. Jones' thoughts, recaps, and opinions. I understand the reality of the situation and just want to say thank you for your hard work, consistency, and perspective.

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    1. Thank you, Justin. Did I meet you at one of the Maston Foundation Retreats at Logsdon? In my association with the T. B. Maston Foundation, I've always found a special joy in meeting students at our Texas Baptist schools. I'm so glad that you found the Roundup useful and helpful, and I appreciate your kind and affirming words.

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