Thursday, November 3, 2011

The red hot Georgia Baptist Convention politics

I am an outsider in the Georgia Baptist Convention and haven't spent a lot of time hobnobbing with the Georgia Baptist bourgeoisie preferring my natural element, the Baptist hoi polloi.

When I moved back to my native state in 1997, the state convention was already solidly conservative and has been since. .

This year it has been interesting to watch a hotly contested GBC presidential election unfold, something I have noted in previous blogs here and here. The GBC meets in less than two weeks and we vote on one of the two presidential candidates.

I understand that any organization with a $44 million budget has people who want to be either in the room when decisions are made or in the position to make important decisions. Sure enough, a fairly smallish group has wielded sufficient influence to have their presidents elected, appointments made, and hiring decisions determined. I must confess a probably unhealthy level of ambivalence about these things.

This conservative candidate. That conservative candidate. Tweedledee. Tweedledum.

This year we have had two very energetic candidates who have campaigned furiously. One stated that he has fifty meet-and-greet meetings planned. Fifty.

Both are very good pastors. Both are talking about expanding the tent to include new people in important GBC committees and positions.

Sounds good to me. How should one decide? Flip a coin? Perhaps the biblical casting of lots?

As I have listened and read, I find one candidate to have made a striking public commitment, one that I don't recall ever seeing in all my years of Baptist politics, er, ministry.

John Waters has said this:
I will not personally support any At Large appointment of a person who has recently served. Nor will I support the appointment of that person’s staff member or a member of his/her immediate family to key places of leadership, practices which have become commonplace in recent years.

We're getting serious here.

This was not shared in a private meeting. It's on his campaign site. If he is elected it will be a rather simple matter to judge his actions against these words.

The GBC has seen a steady erosion of Cooperative Program support and some soft rumblings of dissent. Folks are doing a bit of handwringing in this state. While there is no panacea available, it can only help if we move beyond the control of the well-meaning few to include and involve the many. I cannot see anything negative about doing this.

I declare that both candidates are outstanding men, stellar pastors, and wonderful servants of Christ; that the small group that has exercised such influence in GBC politics are all great, well-meaning people; that their staff members and family members who have been appointed because of their close relationships are also wonderful folks.

But I believe I'll vote for John Waters, the guy who has not only said he would call for new levels of inclusion but who has made specific commitments to get there. I love the concept. Say it. Do it. Let's get on with it.

...but we can all still be friends.


Anonymous said...

I wouldn't vote for anyone who was out furiously campaigning for the position. What is going on in Georgia? Sounds like a bunch of power-hungry plutocrats.

Anonymous said...

You guys are busy out there in Georgia aren't you? Mercer is now in the headlines granting domestic partner benefits to gays.

Anonymous said...

Mercer is no longer Plodder's and GBC's concern and responsibility. Plodder, GBC, and Mercer like the new arrangement.

Dave Miller said...

My brother's been a GA Baptist pastor for several years, but I doubt he could even name the candidates. Atends no conventions.

Dave Miller said...

I'm nervous leaving my name when no one else does. Are you on someone's watch list, William?

Stephen Fox said...

And Shorter is certain to come up in some fashion, In the Halls if not on the floor. Hoping many of you will follow the chat and links in SBC Trends of
I think Rob Nash of the CBF, former administrator at Shorter will have a letter in this coming Sunday's Rome News Trib on the strange and awful for Shorter career of Nelson Price, whose longtime ministry in Marietta was not far down the road from where Leo Frank was lynched in 1915 and the Birch Society has been in the air ever since.
Now like Albert Lee Smith tried to do in an Inquisition of Tom Corts I witnessed at Samford in March 93, Nelson Price is on crusade at Shorter.
As for state conventions will be interesting to see how Immigration plays in Bama.
An aside: Got that Hadacol Days Clyde Bolton book yet?