BGCT Executive Board condemns violence

David Hardage, executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, presented a statement of concern about violence in society to the BGCT Executive Board. (BGCT Photo)

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DALLAS—In the wake of a Texas school shooting that claimed 10 lives and the growing #MeToo movement to end abuse of women, the Baptist General Convention of Texas Executive Board condemned violence and pledged to seek solutions.

A gunman opened fire May 18 at Santa Fe High School May 18 in Galveston County, killing eight students and two teachers and wounding 13 others.

At the BGCT Executive Board meeting in Dallas three days later, Executive Director Hardage presented a wide-ranging statement encompassing violence in varied contexts. The next morning, the board unanimously voted to affirm and support his statement.

“Heartbreaking violence has once again come to the forefront in our society,” Hardage said, noting specifically the school shooting in Santa Fe.

“Violence continues to be a significant problem in every area of life—at home, school, the workplace and churches. Violence also is affecting relationships with family, friends, neighbors and strangers. Texas Baptists are committed to work for answers and solutions.”

Every person is “to be treated with dignity” because the Bible teaches all people are made in God’s image, he noted. Furthermore, the Bible calls on God’s people to pursue peace, justice, kindness and humility.

“Domestic violence, especially against women and children, has no place in our society, and is a direct contradiction to God’s word and way. Texas Baptists have and will speak against abuse,” Hardage said.

He reiterated Texas Baptists’ commitment to a more peaceful society, safe environments and wholesome relationships, and he condemned violence of all its forms.

“We commit ourselves to protecting the dignity of every person, especially the vulnerable among us,” he said. “We will continue to pursue safe and healthy homes, schools, workplaces and churches.”

Exploring changes in health insurance

During its business session, the board granted its finance committee decision-making authority before the board’s next meeting regarding a possible change in employee and retiree health insurance.

Rollie Richmond, director of human resources with the BGCT, reported healthcare premiums have increased more than 50 percent over the last three years.

Richmond called the current situation “unsustainable” and the national healthcare environment “unstable.”

“The staff understands we can’t keep doing what we’re doing,” he said.

Due to budget cycles and insurance enrollment deadlines, any major change would require action prior to the next regularly scheduled BGCT Executive Board meeting.

So, the board delegated to its finance committee authority to review, consider and approve moving from GuideStone Financial Resources to a self-funded healthcare insurance model if the committee considers that the most effective way to provide coverage for employees and retirees.

In recent months, the human resources office enlisted an independent consultant to investigate ways to lower healthcare costs while maintaining quality benefits for employees and retirees. The office also worked with GuideStone to explore possibilities of cost savings and consulted with other state conventions, Richmond reported.

The office will continue to compare benefits and evaluate the degree of disruption for employees and retirees, with a goal of completing the evaluation in June and making a recommendation to the finance committee, he added. If the committee agreed to move to a self-funded model, it would limit BGCT liability by securing stop-loss insurance.

In other business, the board:

  • Re-elected Dennis Young, pastor of Missouri City Baptist Church in Missouri City, as chair and Craig Christina, pastor of Shiloh Terrace Baptist Church in Dallas, as vice chair.
  • Designated the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor as the beneficiary of a portion of the James R. Johnston estate previously designated to the Baptist Foundation of Texas, now HighGround Advisors. HighGround understood the donor intended for UMHB to benefit from estate, according to a finance committee recommendation.
  • Approved Thomas Faught from First Baptist Church in San Antonio to fill a vacancy on the Baptist Student Ministry Council and Casey W. Celum from Northside Baptist Church in Victoria to fill a vacancy on the Chaplaincy Endorsement Council.
  • Approved Jason Bell from First Baptist Church in Mount Pleasant to serve on the East Texas Baptist University board of trustees, and Scott Williamson from First Baptist Church in Lewisville and Carlton Reyes from First Baptist Church in Los Fresnos to serve on the Valley Baptist Missions and Education Center board of trustees.
  • Amended policies to set a maximum number rather than prescribed number of at-large members to BGCT councils and amended policies to reflect the change in name from Committee on Convention Business to Committee on the Annual Meeting.

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