BGCT board seeks authority to move ahead with possible building sale

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 DALLAS—Messengers to the Baptist General Convention of Texas annual meeting in San Antonio this summer will consider a recommendation to grant the BGCT Executive Board authority to sell the Baptist Building in Dallas.

The board at its May meeting approved a proposal that—if approved at the state convention’s annual meeting July 14-17 in San Antonio—would grant the Executive Board and an ad hoc committee authority to negotiate the possible sale of the BGCT Executive Board staff office building.

If a sale were determined to be in the BGCT’s best interests, the board would be authorized to approve the sale and to purchase or lease new property for staff offices.


The board also recommended an amendment to the state convention’s constitution, removing a specific reference to the Baptist Building address.

“This is a not a vote to sell the building. We do not have an offer on the building,” explained Van Christian, chair of the board and the ad hoc committee appointed in February to study the possible sale of the Executive Board staff office building.

Instead, it would provide freedom to negotiate a sale “if it benefits the mission of the BGCT” rather than delay any action until the next BGCT annual meeting in November 2014, said Christian, pastor of First Baptist Church in Comanche.

Baylor University approached BGCT Executive Board staff leaders early this year about buying the Baptist Building to house Baylor’s Louise Herrington School of Nursing. The nursing school’s building on the Baylor Health Care System campus is at capacity, and several faculty members already use office space in the Baptist Building, located adjacent to the health care system campus east of downtown Dallas.

The BGCT Executive Board staff headquarters was built in 1988 at 333 N. Washington on land leased from Baylor Health Care System. The Executive Board used proceeds from the sale of property in downtown Dallas, combined with trust funds, to pay for construction. Ten years later, the health care system’s board of directors voted to give the land, valued at $2.5 million, to the BGCT Executive Board.

Approval for sale

Consequently, Baylor Health Care System has first right of refusal on any sale of the building, but President Joel Allison already has given verbal approval to the proposed sale to Baylor, according to a report from the Executive Board’s administration support committee.

In other business, the board voted to postpone until its Sept. 23-24 meeting consideration of a recommendation that would grant the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation status as a nonprofit corporation affiliated with the BGCT. 

The foundation has raised about $110 million for Texas Baptist missions causes since 1985, and it has operated since its beginning within the Executive Board staff structure.

Bill Arnold, president of the foundation, noted status as a nonprofit corporation with its own governing board would give the Texas Baptist Missions Foundation greater visibility and make it easier to apply for grants from other foundations.

However, several Executive Board members expressed concern about specific provisions in the governing documents for the foundation. After extended discussion, the board approved a motion to postpone consideration until its fall meeting.

The board also:

Elected officers. Ron Lyles, pastor of South Main Baptist Church in Pasadena, was elected chairman, and Ernest Dagohoy, pastor of First Philippine Baptist Church in Missouri City, was elected vice chair. They will assume office after the BGCT annual meeting in July.

Approved recommendations regarding institutions. The board authorized South Texas Children’s Home Ministries to reduce the number of directors on its governing board from 24 members to a range of 16 to 20 members. It also approved a request from the Valley Baptist Missions Education Center board that will make board members eligible for three consecutive terms, bringing the center in line with other Texas Baptist institutions.

Recommended changes. One proposed change brings the bylaws in line with constitutional changes approved at the last two BGCT annual meetings, which grant the presidents of recognized ethnic fellowships voting privileges on the BGCT Executive Board. Another change in the bylaws would allow out-of-state Baptists to serve on groups, teams, councils and other Texas Baptist entities. The board also recommended changes in the bylaws and constitution to delete language that gives detailed descriptions of committees and their duties. All proposed changes will be presented to messengers at the BGCT annual meeting.

Heard updates on finances. The Texas portion of Cooperative Program receipts at the end of the first quarter totaled 94.3 percent of budget, compared to 98.8 percent of budget at the same time last year, said Jill Larsen, BGCT chief financial officer and treasurer. However, by the end of April, Texas Cooperative Program receipts increased to 100.5 percent of budget, she reported.

Filled vacancies. The board elected Kendall Holden, a certified public accountant and member of Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, to a three-year term on the institutions audit group and Randy Pullin, a member of First Baptist Church in Houston, to the Baylor University board of regents. 

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