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Posted: 6/06/03

BGCT Executive Board gives
green light to HBTS name change

By Mark Wingfield

Managing Editor

DALLAS–A name change for Hispanic Baptist Theological School stands one step away from enactment, with a positive nod received from the Baptist General Convention of Texas Executive Board June 3.

The proposed change to Baptist University of the Americas now goes to messengers to the BGCT's annual session, to be held in Lubbock in November. The charter change already has been approved by the school's board, the Christian Education Coordinating Board and the BGCT Administrative Committee.

Executive Board members also approved allowing the San Antonio school to incur additional debt to purchase 78 acres of land across I-35 from the current campus. The school plans a relocation over the next seven to 10 years, President Albert Reyes explained.

In other business, the Executive Board heard a number of reports on ongoing ministries.

No additional action was taken on a key issue that generated considerable debate at the two previous meeting–a proposed new cooperative agreement between the BGCT and the Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board. After the BGCT Executive Board at its March meeting approved negotiated language for the document, trustees of NAMB voted to table the matter and appoint a study committee to review what NAMB President Bob Reccord called “weighty issues.”

E.B. Brooks, coordinator of church missions and evangelism for the BGCT, told Executive Board members the BGCT will wait for further response from NAMB. The issues identified by Reccord, he said, include a demand from NAMB that pastors of any church receiving even partial financial assistance from NAMB must affirm the 2000 Baptist Faith & Message.

Executive Board Vice Chairman John Ogletree of Houston presided at the meeting in the absence of Chairman Brian Harbour of Richardson. Harbour had been called away due to a death in his family.

BGCT President Bob Campbell of Houston reported on the visits he and the two BGCT vice presidents have made this year to BGCT institutions. He was pleasantly surprised, he said, by the presentation they heard at Vanguard Health System in San Antonio, which recently purchased the ailing Baptist Health System.

The new president of the five-hospital system is a devout Christian who wants the hospitals to be “vitally connected to Baptists,” Campbell reported.

Campbell encouraged members of the Executive Board to set an example by leading their churches to choose the Cooperative Program giving plan that directs 79 percent to BGCT ministries. BGCT institutions across the state are suffering from lack of adequate funding, he reported.

To pastors, he said: “I challenge you to quit being the bishop. Let your people choose where they want to send their money.”

BGCT Executive Director Charles Wade reported on the need to start 1,100 churches across Texas in the next five years just to keep pace with population growth. Even so, more than 10 million Texans currently have no relationship with any church, he said.

That challenge met a somber rejoinder, however, in a report from Brooks that after the first five months of this year, the BGCT has allocated all the funds it has budgeted for new churches.

Overall, Cooperative Program giving through the BGCT continues to lag behind last year, reported BGCT Treasurer David Nabors. Total receipts through the end of May were down 2.5 percent from the previous year, which in turn had shown a decrease from the year before that.

One bright spot, he noted, is that gifts to Texas Baptist ministries as of the end of May were holding steady with last year's total giving.

The annual audit of BGCT books, approved by the Executive Board without debate, showed a decline in assets of more than $18 million from 2001 to 2002. The bulk of that decline was due to lower values of investments, the report showed, although the total cash and cash equivalents on hand at year end were more than $1.5 million less than the previous year.

The audit showed realized and unrealized net losses on investments of $17 million for 2002, after similar losses of $13 million in 2001. The declining value of investments and endowment funds has placed Baptist ministries statewide in a pinch for the last two years.

In other business, the Executive Board:

Approved three nominations to replace members of the Executive Board who resigned. Charles Summers of First Baptist Church in Dimmitt will replace Bobby Broyles. Kenneth Taylor of First Baptist Church of Corpus Christi will replace Sharon Willingham. David Harp of First Baptist Church of Stanton will replace Frances Wheat.

bluebull Elected Nolan Duck of First Baptist Church of Lufkin to the Administrative Committee to replace Betty McGary, who died.

bluebull Named Kevin Hall of First Baptist Church of Haskell and Charles McLaughlin of Western Hills Baptist Church in Fort Worth to the Christian Life Commission to replace Robert Prince, who moved out of state, and Bill Hendricks, who died.

bluebull Named Delia Vela of Westway Baptist Church in El Paso to replace Sue McGee on the committee to nominate coordinating boards for institutions.

bluebull Elected four trustees of BGCT institutions to replace individuals who resigned. Nell McCallum Morris of Calder Baptist Church in Beaumont will replace Henrietta Woolley on the Memorial Hermann Hospital board. Julia Wade of First Baptist Church of San Augustine will replace Gladys Hudson on the board of East Texas Baptist University. On the board of Valley Baptist Missions/Education Center, Claudio Cruz of First Baptist Church in Harlingen will replace Juan Herrera and Patrick Graham of First Baptist Church of Harlingen will replace Mateo Rendon.

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