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Seminary Day put off until meeting

Oct. 6, 2000

Delay comes after SBC, BGCT rift

By JOHN HALL

Reporter

The religion department cancelled Seminary Day amidst controversy between the Southern Baptist Convention and the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

The annual event brings together both BGCT and SBC seminaries to recruit undergraduates.

A committee, including Dr. Jeter Basden and Dr. David Slover, directors of ministry guidance, cancelled the event. Slover and Basden would not comment on the situation.

Larry Brumley, a Baylor spokesman, said, 'In the light of all the rhetoric going around ... it was decided that it would be better to postpone it until after the convention.'

The cancellation is the latest response to the executive board of the BGCT sending a proposal to redirect $4 million from the six SBC seminaries to the three BGCT seminaries.

In the past week, members of the Southern Baptist Convention said they still have hope that the churches meeting at the Baptist General Convention of Texas state convention at the end of the month will not approve the proposal. However, if the BGCT does approve the funding proposal, SBC seminary presidents said they believe churches and alumni will send them money to make up for the shortfall.

Last week, the BGCT executive board sent a proposal to remove funding from the SBC seminaries because of theological differences. The money would be sent to three seminaries, including George W. Truett Theological Seminary.

Kenneth Hemphill, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, said the proposal was 'tragic.'

'It penalizes God-called men and women whose only desire is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ around the world,' Hemphill said.

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary in Louisville, Ky., said the proposal would greatly limit theological education in Texas.

'This action demonstrates that the leaders of the BGCT are determined to set themselves off as an island from the rest of the Southern Baptist Convention,' Mohler said. 'The only explanation for this action is anger and hostility on the part of the BGCT leadership.'

BGCT leaders denied that, saying it wants to move the funding because of a lack of diversity in theological teaching, including what they call traditional Baptist ideals such as the 'priesthood of the believer' and congregational freedom.

Hemphill said the students at SBC seminaries are caught in the middle of a power struggle.

'Students at the Southern Baptist seminaries do not deserve to be made pawns in a political maneuver,' he said.

Southwestern Seminary will lose more than $600,000 if the proposal is passed. Hemphill said, however, that the loss would not adversely affect the seminary.

'We expect God to supply our needs,' Hemphill said. 'That is the bottom line.'

Although leaders of the BGCT have said this is not a sign of a break between the two groups and point to the continuation of funding toward the International Missions Board and North American Missions Board, Mohler and Hemphill disagreed.

The proposals were a result of the BGCT study committee's report to the executive board. Hemphill said the report is 'shallow to say the least,' and also said it was 'not adequate or fair.'

He also stood up to the report's criticism of teaching at SBC seminaries, saying, 'I don't think there is a seminary in the world that competes [with Southwestern] in terms of faculty and students.'

Both presidents emphasized that the plan still has to be voted on by BGCT delegates at the state convention. They said they don't believe Texas churches will completely follow the proposal, even if it is passed.

The proposal would take $5 million in total away from the SBC seminaries. One million of the money would be prorated for students who are members of BGCT churches but go to SBC seminaries. The remaining $4 million will go to Truett Seminary, Logsdon Seminary in Abilene and the Hispanic Theological School in San Antonio. It will be put before the delegation at the state committee the weekend of Oct. 30-31.

from SBC page 1