Southern Religion

New term; less giving?

By Steve DeVane

Some fear that the addition of “Great Commission Giving” to Southern Baptist terminology will disrupt the traditional Southern Baptists way of funding their ministries.

How? The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Great Commission Resurgence Task Force (GCRTF) recommended a new bundle of giving called “Great Commission Giving.” It would include both the traditional Cooperative Program funds and otherwise designated money sent to SBC causes, state conventions and local associations.

The Cooperative Program (CP) has been the cornerstone of SBC fund collection since 1925. Basically, state conventions collect money from churches. State conventions keep part of the money for state purposes, and send the rest to the SBC.

Norman Jameson, editor of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina’s Biblical Recorder, said in an editorial that the work of the SBC is the work of churches cooperatively.

“Changing nomenclature adds not a dollar in effect or motivation to missions,” he said. “But it will have the effect of sticking another drain in the vein of the Cooperative Program, to the demise of ministries North Carolina Baptists have birthed and nurtured for Jesus’ sake.”

Jameson points out that a number of recently elected SBC presidents were pastors of churches who gave less than 4 percent to the CP. He said those churches often give generously to other mission efforts.

“But the work of the Convention is the work of churches working cooperatively,” he said. “When the example is that the cooperative work does not merit support, the result is diminished support.”

Those seeking the SBC presidency “resent when their church’s anemic Cooperative Program giving is cited as evidence of paltry SBC support,” Jameson said.

“The ‘Great Commission Giving’ nomenclature suggested by the task force is a balm for their perceived injury,” he said. “But it is a dressing for disaster as it concerns the Cooperative Program.”

Jameson also mentions CP giving by the churches of the task force member, an issue which also came up earlier.

“When the average CP giving of task force member churches is less than five percent the report’s recommendation to ‘reaffirm the Cooperative Program as our central means of supporting Great Commission ministries’ rings hollow,” he said. “Nothing leads like example.”

Jim Drake, a pastor from West Virginia, said he agrees with the task force’s reaffirmation of CP, but notes that other parts of the report “seem to undermine it.”

“Concerning designated gifts ‘counting’ as CP giving, this seems to be a non-issue for a rural, small-church pastor like me,” he said. “The fact that my church’s contributions to a local food bank, a crisis pregnancy center and a Bible in the Schools program don’t ‘count’ toward our 15% CP giving bears no impact on the furtherance of the Gospel.”

George Bullard has consulted with 50 different denominations and currently serves as general secretary of the North American Baptist Fellowship of the Baptist World Alliance. He talks about the task force proposal to add Great Commission giving in several of his 30 observations about the group’s progress report.

“What a step towards the death of the Cooperative Program,” he said “What an accommodation to leaders and congregations who lack a core commitment to the Cooperative Program.”

Bullard said it’s inconsistent for the task force to want people to give 10 percent of their income to undesignated church causes, but not call for churches to do the same for the denomination.

Bullard said he has advocated for nearly 20 years that denominations should have as many as 12 funding streams around one foundational stream. But the task force’s strategy comes at such an effort from a position of weakness, he said, since it accommodates those who don’t support CP.

“They now want a category that will make them look good,” Bullard said. “It is not as altruistic and cutting edge as it sounds. It is a compromise.”

Ronnie Floyd, the chairman of the task force, sought to “bring greater clarity” to the issue with a post on his blog. The 374-word article reaffirms four times the CP, mentions three times that CP has priority, and twice each that it is primary and preferred, and also adds that CP is central and ultimate.

The Cooperative Program’s importance is clear. Not the necessity of performing surgery on it.


March 5, 2010 Posted by | SBC | , | Comments Off on New term; less giving?

Not enough religion coverage for current consumers

Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism found among the topics that don’t get enough journalistic attention:

Religion and spirituality: 41% of Americans say there is not enough coverage of religious and spiritual issues. Women (44%) are more likely than men (37%) to seek more coverage of this area; young adults ages 18-29 (49%) are more likely than those over age 50 (35%) to say this; and bloggers (50%) are more likely than non-bloggers (40%) to say this. Race/ethnicity is also a factor, with African-Americans (57%) significantly more likely than both whites (38%) and Hispanics (43%) to say they would like to see more coverage of religion and spirituality.

March 5, 2010 Posted by | WWW | | Comments Off on Not enough religion coverage for current consumers

Marcial Maciel, molester of his own offspring?

Marcial Maciel, founder of Legion of Christ (LC) and the Regnum Christi (RC), is alleged in a Spanish-language interview with some of his illicit “family,” to have sexually molested his son and adopted step-son.

Giselle writes at Life-After-RC, “from a friend who speaks Spanish:”

First son recounts his abuse starting at age seven (including photos, for Maciel to keep as mementos). It got so bad that he became sexually confused and asked his dad if he could see a psychiatrist. MM says he knew a really good one in Spain and sends him over (to stay with “Auntie Norma” the other wife) and he begins counseling. That man quickly put him on all sorts of drugs — just as MM did with any Legionary in the ranks who began to have trouble, feeling poorly, depressed, insomnia, struggling with the miasma of insanity, etc.

There has always been drug use in Legion. It was part of MM’s way of operating — medicating men without prescriptions (using obedience to administer) and then if they crashed, they would be labeled as mentally unstable. All of this was on the exlegionaries discussion board — another reason it had to be shut down.

The Associated Press has a brief account and reports:

Mexican woman, Blanca Lara Gutierrez, told MVS radio’s Carmen Aristegui on Wednesday that Maciel had two sons with her during a 20-year relationship and sexually abused one of them — as well as a son she had earlier whom Maciel had adopted.

The sons appeared with her on the program and supported the allegations.

More here in the comments.

This month’s conclusion of the Apostolic Visitation [investigation] still beckons.

March 5, 2010 Posted by | Catholic, Religion | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Anglican Church in American to the Pope: Yes, please

The Anglican Church in American (ACA), with some 100 dioceses and 5,200 members, swim the Tiber. The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in America, Traditional Anglican Communion, announced Thursday:

We, the House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in America of the Traditional Anglican Communion have met in Orlando, Florida, together with our Primate and the Reverend Christopher Phillips of the “Anglican Use” Parish of Our Lady of the Atonement (San Antonio, Texas) and others.

At this meeting, the decision was made formally to request the implementation of the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus in the United States of America by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

They are the first major U.S. exodus to join the 68,115,001 Catholic Church, U.S.

The ACA was formed from conservative breakaways from the Episcopal Church )United States), which is part of the nAnglican Communio that is headed by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Whereas the ACA is a branch of the Traditional Anglican Communion — the group which from the outset was expected to be the first to accept Pope Benedict XVI’s October offer.

March 5, 2010 Posted by | Catholic, Presbyterian, Religion | | Comments Off on The Anglican Church in American to the Pope: Yes, please