What is the price of peace? For Southern Baptists in Missouri the latest invoice is $100,000 according to a report from Baptist Press.
This bill comes after years of Missouri Baptist Convention leadership pouring lots of money into failed legal attempts to regain control of five breakaway agencies. Now, according to this latest report, the MBC Executive Board adopted the final report of a “Peace Committee” and approved expending up to $100,000 from reserve funds to “pursue biblical reconciliation between two conservative groups in the state.”
Missouri Baptists seem to specialize in division. After fundamentalists took over the state convention, more moderate Baptists left. Some formed and affiliated with a state organization of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF). Then, however, others formed a rival convention (the Baptist General Convention of Missouri) and kept trying to fund Southern Baptist missions even as SBC leaders sought to reject their gifts.
Then further division occurred within the conservative/fundamentalist element left within the now-smaller MBC. The Peace Committee was formed in April 2008 to referee between the fundamentalist “Save Our Convention” group and the real, real fundamentalist Missouri Baptist Laymen’s Association — led by Roger Moran.
Moran is well known in Southern Baptist circles for his guilt-by-association attacks on a wide range of fellow Baptists. His latest target is fellow conservatives with ties to the emerging church.
“I’m just happy it turned out the way the Lord sees it to be,” said Jody Shelenhamer, a member of First Baptist Church in Bolivar and the board member who made the motion to create the Peace Committee, according to the report. “…You spend your money where your priorities are, so I’m very excited about the willingness to spend some money to make this a priority to pray and to reach reconciliation with any brother or sister who may be offended. I think we need to do that in the whole state. I love that we’re going to get together and pray and try to have some church health.
May they live happily ever after.
The report continues: “In introducing the report to the Board, (Chairman Jeff) Purvis (pastor of First Baptist Church in Herculaneum-Pevely, Mo.) acknowledged that not all the issues between the groups have been resolved.”