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Baptists elect BU prof, regent

Nov. 11, 1997

By Ashlee Ross

Staff Writer for The Baylor Lariat

AUSTIN--Texas Baptists overwhelmingly elected a Truett Seminary professor as their president and a Baylor regent as their first vice president Monday in Austin.

Dr. Russell Dilday, distinguished professor of homiletics and special assistant to the president, and Jaclanel Moore McFarland, a Houston attorney and Baylor Board of Regents vice chair-elect were elected Monday at the annual meeting of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Dilday garnered 71.1 percent of the 5, 275 ballots cast in the presidential election.

'We think it's [the election of Dilday and McFarland] wonderful,' Baylor president Robert B. Sloan Jr. said. 'It says that Texas Baptists were not happy that he [Dilday] was fired by Southwestern [Baptist Theological Seminary].'

'It's good to hear the news,' Dilday said. 'It's quite an expression of confidence of which I'm very, very grateful.'

Messengers also passed all of the 16 recommendations from the Texas Baptist Effectiveness/Efficiency Committee, with few dissenting votes. The report encourages Texas Baptist's involvement in muticultural ministries, the formulation of Sunday School literature produced independently of the Southern Baptist Convention's Sunday School Board and an increased influence placed on family services.

Stating the report's language is 'inflammatory,' the Rev. John Hatch, pastor of First Baptist Church in Lake Jackson, proposed an amendment that would delete discussion of the E/E report. Messengers overwhelmingly defeated his amendment.

'We view the report in its present form as divisive,' Hatch said. 'The proposals are seen as another step that distances ourselves from the national convention. We see that the stage is set for another win/lose vote.'

Hatch said discussing and voting on the issue at a later time would 'help restore a climate of trust in the BGCT.'

Charles Davenport, the BGCT's administrative committee chairman, said that delaying the report would hurt the convention even more.

'It has been a good committee that has worked for two years to try to bring this to us,' Davenport said. 'I'd urge you not to support deleting that report because, in my opinion, it would make it more divisive.'

One part of the E/E report stresses increased emphasis on theological education. Sloan said two university-related theological schools, Baylor's Truett Seminary and Logsdon Seminary at Hardin-Simmons University, would benefit from the act.

'The financial implications of it have not been worked out,' Sloan said. 'It's the one that says the convention will continue to study.'

Part of the E/E report calls for partnership in mission endeavors. The report encourages the BGCT to work with the Southern Baptist Convention, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and the Baptist World Alliance.

A proposed amendment deleting the CBF from the list was met with opposition from a Waco pastor.

'We have to have multiple approaches to sharing the gospel of Christ rather be involved in partisan politics,' said Dr. Scott Walker, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Waco.

The issue of a rumored split among 'moderate' and 'fundamentalist' Texas Baptists was discussed in both BGCT Executive Director William Pinson's report and in BGCT President Charles Wade's presidential address.

'I realize that some have said that they will leave the fellowship of the convention if the vote does not go their way,' Pinson said. 'Others have talked of forming a separate convention...Of course separation is their right. Baptists have done this sort of thing before. But the question is what is best for the advancement of our Lord's kingdom.'

Pinson said that although some Texas Baptists believe a split would be best, Pinson said that neither himself nor other elected leaders are among that group.

'If a new state convention were to be formed it would not be because BGCT leaders have encouraged it; in fact just the opposite would be the case.'

Wade, pastor of First Baptist Church in Arlington, eluded to actions from the SBC to discuss what would not happen from Texas Baptists.

'There is no attempt to coerce or to intimidate,' Wade said. 'There are no threats of firing or dismissing those who may not agree with any decisions made at this convention.

'Southern Baptist leaders will have our support if they will focus on missions and evangelism...but they will drive more and more Texas Baptists away if they focus on requiring conformity as a condition of cooperation.'

Dilday said if a split happens in the future, he would probably say 'more power to you.'

'Let's not waste our energy fighting with you,' Dilday said.

Messengers also approved a budget of $47,619,101 for 1998.

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