Saturday, July 8, 2017

Texas Baptists Committed – A brief summary of its origins, history, and impact
by Bill Jones, TBC executive director

As we approach the end of the active ministry of Texas Baptists Committed, it's helpful to look at its history and recall its impact.

For a detailed history of the origins of Texas Baptists Committed, I refer you to “The History of Baptists Committed,” by Jimmy Allen, which is a chapter of The Struggle for the Soul of the SBC: Moderate Responses to the Fundamentalist Movement (1993, Mercer University Press), edited by Walter B. Shurden.

This chapter is also the primary source of my Baptist Briefs series of five videos, Founding of Texas BaptistsCommitted.

The following history of events through 1993 is a very brief summary of that chapter.

1985 – Houston layman John Baugh forms the Baptist Laity Journal for the purpose of informing laypersons of the issues involved in the battle for the SBC. Owen Cooper, a former SBC president, is board chair, and Neal Rodgers is editor, with John Jeter Hurt – then editor of The Baptist Standard – serving as editorial consultant. Baptist Laity Journal has both a Texas edition and a national edition.

January 1986 – Participants in the Baptist Laity Journal form a steering committee, calling themselves “Laymen for the Cooperative Program,” a name that is changed in the fall to “Laity for the Baptist Faith and Message.” This organization’s board members are national in scope, covering a number of states.

September 1986 – Moderate laymen Maston Courtney, Judge Connally McKay, Dewey Presley, and John Baugh invite Fundamentalist leaders W. A. Criswell, Jimmy Draper, Adrian Rogers, Bailey Smith, and Charles Stanley to engage in “a series of public meetings for the purpose of restoring fellowship.” Their invitation is rejected.

December 1988 – The Moderate organization is “transformed into the nucleus of ‘Baptists Committed to the Southern Baptist Convention,’ popularly known as ‘Baptists Committed,’” absorbing the “Laity for the Baptist Faith and Message” group. Winfred Moore is elected to chair the organization. “Publication of the Baptist Laity Journal was suspended.”

January 1989 – Baptists Committed opens a national office in Houston.

April 1989 – Georgia forms the first state chapter of Baptists Committed, followed by Texas less than a week later. David R. Currie of San Angelo is hired as Baptists Committed’s first staff person, with the title of field coordinator; Oeita Bottorff of Houston is then hired as project director.

November 1989 – Winfred Moore decides to step down as chair of Baptists Committed, and Jimmy Allen is elected to succeed him.

June 1990 – Daniel Vestal is defeated for president of the SBC for the second consecutive year, assuring Fundamentalists of a majority on all SBC boards and committees. The following morning, Daniel Vestal challenges over 800 people attending a Baptists Committed breakfast to go to work on determining the future direction of Moderate Baptists. Leaders begin planning meetings intended to organize and plan the future.

August 1990 – Baptists Committed organizational meeting draws 3,000.

May 1991 – Follow-up meeting draws 8,000.

June 1992 – Baptists Committed merges with the new Cooperative Baptist Fellowship; “In Texas,” Allen writes:
the Baptists Committed organization is the functioning unit of Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Many of the churches who have not yet declared themselves through Cooperative Baptist Fellowship funding channels are committed to Moderate control of their state convention. . . . Baylor University president Herbert Reynolds has been an active leader in Baptists Committed from its beginning. David Currie . . . serves as coordinator for Texas Baptists Committed. He assists in organizing Moderates to resist the Fundamentalist takeover at the state convention of Texas. Issues such as the level of Baylor funding and methods of missions are under constant attack by the Fundamentalist faction in Texas. The 60/40 vote in favor of the Moderate cause at the 1991 Texas convention was assured and predicted by Baptists Committed zone leaders at the annual session of the convention.
1990s - David Currie travels the state tirelessly, urging Baptists to resist Fundamentalists’ attempt to take control of the Baptist General Convention of Texas by winning its presidency. He speaks in churches throughout the state, informing Baptists of the issues at stake and then mobilizing them – urging them to volunteer to be elected by their churches as messengers and go to the annual meeting every year and vote for the Moderate candidate for BGCT president.

Contrary to what had taken place at the SBC throughout the 1980s, the Moderate candidate wins, year after year, at the BGCT.

1998 – Fundamentalists stop running candidates for the BGCT presidency and form the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. The SBTC adopts a more subtle, but perhaps even more insidious, strategy of seeking control of local churches.

1998-2017 – A primary focus of Texas Baptists Committed is to aid pastor search committees by providing the truth about pastoral candidates and recommending pastoral candidates who will be faithful to Baptist principles.

TBC continues to protect the presidency of the BGCT by helping to ensure that candidates are committed to Baptist distinctives and are not tools of the Fundamentalist faction.

TBC encourages diversity in convention leadership and is directly responsible – through selection, endorsement, and/or other forms of encouragement – for the election of the first Hispanic BGCT president (Albert Reyes), the first African-American BGCT president (Michael Bell), and the first two women to serve as BGCT president (Joy Fenner and Kathy Hillman).

September 2009 – David R. Currie retires as TBC executive director.

January 2011 – After meeting regularly for over a year to discuss and determine TBC’s future, the TBC board elects Bill Jones, a member of the board, to succeed David Currie as executive director.

January-May 2011 – TBC produces 71 two- to three-minute videos, entitled Baptist Briefs, on Baptist history and principles. Baptist Briefs are provided for access on the Web site and on TBC’s YouTube channel, and are later provided on a two-DVD set. Baptist Briefs are recognized by the Baptist History & Heritage Society, and some Texas Baptist university professors use them in their classes.

May 2011 – TBC debuts TBC Weekly Baptist Roundup, an enewsletter linking to current Baptist news and opinion from a wide variety of sources, and highlighting upcoming Baptist events. Ultimately, over 800 Baptists from a number of states, and even internationally, open the Roundup every week.

July 2017 – Citing a lack of funding and the emergence of a new robust regional network, CBF’s Fellowship Southwest, the TBC Board votes to cease operations at the end of July.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you -- All of you -- who have labored so faithfully at this worthy effort for so many years. Ten years ago, my name became anathema overnight to many within the Southern Baptist Convention when I drew attention to some very non-Baptist doctrines that are now taught as holy writ. Thank you for your courage to publish opinions that were not so popular in the larger world of the Faith.

    Your publication has been a great encouragement to me and to Shirley Taylor of bWe Baptists for Women's Equality on many days when I think that the two of us both felt discouraged. May God richly reward all of you for your faithfulness to women and to a well rounded Christian perspective.

    Until we meet in Glory,

    Cynthia Kunsman