The Pathway

Official News Journal of the Missouri Baptist Convention

 

 

The “Baptist General Convention of Missouri”

Who are its founding leaders?

In a letter to former MBC executive director Jim Hill, Morris Chapman, president of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention writes in regard to Hill’s request that the SBC declare a new proposed state convention in Missouri to be in “friendly cooperation” with the SBC: 

“It is our understanding [that] many of those persons opposing the current direction of the Missouri Baptist Convention are the same ones who have been opposing the direction of the Southern Baptist Convention is recent years and who have been attempting to dissuade churches in Missouri from supporting our work.  This anti-SBC sentiment formerly being promulgated in the MBC was one of the stated reasons many in Missouri worked for the changes in leadership that have taken place.”

Chapman continues: 

“The proposed Baptist [General] Convention of Missouri plans to incorporate practices contrary to the best interests of the Southern Baptist Convention.  It is apparent from information from your group as well as the practice of some of the leaders in your group that you intend to create several giving tracks, some of which do not benefit the SBC.  We have not nor do we desire to enter into new relationships that do not see the SBC as the exclusive beneficiary of national Cooperative Program gifts from the churches.  You also will openly welcome relationships with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a group known for actively encouraging Southern Baptist churches to discontinue support for our convention’s work.  The Southern Baptist Convention would be harmed by these practices.” 

Dr. Chapman concludes:  “Jim, yours is the first-ever request for affiliation we have had from a group of Baptists with sentiments I would be hard-pressed to interpret as in ‘friendly cooperation’ with the purposes and work of the Southern Baptist Convention.” 

 

Who are the leaders?

The question then arises:  Who are the leaders of the proposed new “Baptist General Convention of Missouri?”  According to the “program” for the information/planning meeting for the proposed new state Baptist convention, held January 17, 2002 at First Baptist Church in Sedalia, the group’s leaders include:

Jim Hill:  Former MBC executive director Jim Hill served as the chief spokesman for the new convention at the information and planning meeting at First Baptist Church Sedalia.  In promoting the meeting, Hill’s open letter to Missouri Baptists, titled, “Why would I choose to become a part of a new Baptist state convention in Missouri,” was widely circulated across the state. 

Jim Hill was also the one who contacted SBC Executive Committee president Morris Chapman about the possibility of the new convention being in “friendly cooperation” with the SBC.  Likewise, Chapman’s letter rejecting the request of the new convention was directed to Jim Hill. 

At the time Jim Hill was elected as executive director of the Missouri Baptist Convention, he was pastor of South County Baptist Church in St. Louis.  Hill was the first pastor of the new church, which had CBF in its  church budget.  Interestingly, Hill’s brother, Pete Hill, is a former member of both the national CBF Coordinating Council and the Mainstream Missouri Baptists board of directors.  While serving as pastor of Wornall Road Baptist Church in Kansas City, Pete Hill led the church to sever its ties with the Southern Baptist Convention.  Pete Hill is now pastor of First Baptist Church in Smithville, one of the twenty churches listed as part of the original November 17, 2001 meeting which called for the formation of the new convention and initiated the alternative giving plans through the Missouri Baptist Foundation. 

Jim Hill’s dislike for conservative, pro-SBC Missouri Baptists supportive of Project 1000 has become increasingly clear.  According to the Sedalia Democrat, after the January 17th meeting in Sedalia: “Dr. Hill said Project 1000 members are ‘right wing fundamentalists’ who have a ‘different agenda for our state convention and our state institutions.’” 

In the early 1990’s, Jim Hill also actively opposed the “right wing fundamentalists” and the “conservative resurgence at the SBC level.  In 1992, Jim Hill and Doyle Sager (formerly pastor of First Baptist Church in Sedalia and president of the now defunct Mainstream Missouri Baptists) served together as co-chairs of an organization called “Friends of Theological Education in the Midwest.”  This not-for-profit organization was formed to funnel money around the increasingly conservative, pro-SBC trustees at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to the moderate president at that time, Dr. Milton Ferguson.  As recently as the February 4, 2002 issue of the Baptist Standard, the official news journal of the strongly pro-CBF Baptist General Convention of Texas, Jim Hill reiterated that: “He quit [as MBC executive director] because he no longer would work with the fundamentalist leadership placed on the [MBC] Executive Board.”  Hill quit while moderates still had a voting majority on the MBC Executive Board and received a severance package of approximately $150,000, allowing him the financial ability to devote his time and attention to the formation of a new state convention. 

Drew Hill:  Another brother of Jim Hill, Drew Hill is pastor of First Baptist Church in Sedalia (formerly pastored Doyle Sager, president of Mainstream Missouri Baptists) and served as host pastor for both the November 17, 2001 organizational meeting and the January 17, 2002 information/planning meeting for the new convention.  Drew and his brother Jim have been in the forefront of the effort and the chief organizers of the new convention.  Drew Hill served on the search committee that ultimately called his brother Jim as Executive Director of the Missouri Baptist Convention.  Drew was also the unsuccessful Mainstream Missouri Baptists-endorsed candidate for first vice president of the MBC in 2000. 

Dr. John Hughes:  Dr. Hughes was listed as one of the “workgroup” leaders for the information/planning meeting.  Dr. Hughes, a former MBC president, served as a board member of Mainstream Missouri Baptists and until recently served on the national CBF Coordinating Council.

Kirtes Calvery:  Rev. Calvery is pastor of Swope Park Baptist Church in Kansas City and was listed as a “workgroup” leader for the information/planning meeting for the new convention.  In an article appearing in the October 2000 issue of the Baptist Voice, published by Mainstream Missouri Baptists and titled “Why I am supporting Mainstream Missouri Baptists,” Rev. Calvery writes:   “If Fundamentalists have their way, churches like ours, who currently allow for giving through organizations like the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship will not be allowed in the Missouri Baptist Convention.”  He further writes:  “If the MBC patterns after the SBC, the test of a Christian’s genuineness will not have anything to do with love, kindness, personal piety or personal evangelism.  It will be determined by what you believe about abortion, homosexuality or some other hot issue…” 

Dick Lionberger:  Rev. Lionberger is pastor of First Baptist Church Savannah and was listed as a “workgroup” leader for the information/planning meeting for the new convention.  Rev. Lionberger was the unsuccessful Mainstream Missouri Baptists-endorsed candidate for second vice president of the MBC in 2000.  After the 2000 Missouri Baptist Convention, Lionberger led his church to reduce their Cooperative Program giving from 10% to 5% and to start allowing members to give to CBF and Mainstream Missouri Baptists through the church.  (Baptist Voice, March 2001 )   

Owen Taylor:  Rev. Taylor is pastor of Manchester Baptist Church in St. Louis and was listed as a “workgroup” leader for the information/planning meeting for the new convention.  Rev. Taylor served on the board of The Baptist Home when its trustees voted to become a self-perpetuating board.  He also serves on the board of Missouri Baptist College and voted for that MBC institution to also become a self-perpetuating board.  

Randall Bunch:  Rev. Bunch is pastor of First Baptist Church in Eldon and was a “workgroup” leader for the information/planning meeting for the new convention.  Rev. Bunch serves on the board of Missouri Baptist College and voted to become a self-perpetuating board. 

Dr. Randy Fullerton:  Dr. Fullerton is pastor of Fee Fee Baptist Church in St. Louis and was one of three individuals giving a “testimony” titled:  “Why I would consider becoming a part of a new Baptist state convention.”  Dr. Fullerton is chairman of the board of Missouri Baptist College and led the effort to make the college board self-perpetuating.  While serving as chairman of the board at Missouri Baptist College, Fullerton also served as chairman of the administrative committee of the Executive Board of the Missouri Baptist Convention .  Fullerton’s church has members serving on the boards of all five “stolen” MBC agencies.  Fullerton will host the founding meeting for the new convention in mid April at his church.   

Dr. Bill Miller:  Dr. Miller is pastor of First Baptist Church in Farmington and was one of three individuals giving a “testimony” titled:  “Why I would consider becoming a part of a new Baptist state convention.”  Dr. Miller was the unsuccessful moderate candidate for MBC president in 1998, the first year of Project 1000.  Miller was defeated by Gary Taylor, pastor of First Baptist Church in O’Fallon.  Interestingly, Dr. Miller continues to serve on the Executive Board of the Missouri Baptist Convention even as he is working to form another competing state convention.  Two other members of Miller’s church serve on the boards of “stolen” MBC agencies, including associate pastor Rocky Good, who was also a “workgroup” leaders at the information/planning meeting.  Good was elected to serve on the Windermere board by its self-perpetuating board. 

Dr. H. K. Neely:  Dr. Neely is vice president for denominational relations at Southwest Baptist University at Bolivar (which receives well over $1 million annually from the MBC) and was one of the three individuals giving a “testimony” titled:  “Why I would consider becoming a part of a new Baptist state convention.”  Dr. Neely is increasingly best-known for his termination of conservative pastor Michael Knight, pastor of First Baptist Church, Viburnum, as an adjunct professor at Southwest Baptist University at Salem.  Knight’s replacement was Dr. Robert Johnston, pastor of the strongly moderate First Baptist Church in Rolla.  Johnston, who serves on the board of  Word & Way, led the effort as chairman of the board to make Word & Way the fifth agency to be “stolen” from Missouri Baptists.  Johnston also serves on the board of Missouri Baptist College, where he also voted to “steal” that agency from Missouri Baptists.  First Baptist Rolla was one of the original 20 churches represented at the November 17, 2001 meeting in Sedalia which called for the formation of the new convention and initiated the alternative giving plans through the Missouri Baptist Foundation.   

Dr. Jimmy Albright:  Dr. Albright is pastor of Wyatt Park Baptist Church in St. Joseph and was the key-note speaker at the information/planning meeting for the new convention.  Dr. Albright was the unsuccessful Mainstream Missouri Baptists-endorsed candidate for president of the MBC in 1999.  In an interview with the Kansas City Star after his failed presidential election, Dr Albright announced that if pro-SBC conservative Missouri Baptists continue to win MBC elections, his church “would have to make a decision as to who we’d like to align with.”  (Kansas City Star, October 27, 1999, pg. B8) 

W. B. Tichenor:  According to the February 4, 2002 issue of the Texas Baptist Standard, the legal work for the new convention is being done by W. B. Tichenor, a former moderator for the Missouri CBF and a long-time board member of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.  Americans United, which was funded by the MBC for over thirty years,  has been on the cutting edge of pro-abortion/pro-homosexual activism for the last decade.  Former Missouri CBF moderator Cynthia Holmes has served on Americans United’s 14 member board of trustees for the past few years.  This past year, both Holmes and Tichenor have served on the board of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, who chose as the preacher for its 2001 “Religious Liberty Sunday Sermon,” Dr. Rev. James C. Miller.  The previous year, Dr. Miller was given the “Walter Cronkite Faith and Freedom Award” by The Interfaith Alliance for his efforts to keep homosexuals in the Boy Scouts.  Interestingly, the executive director of The Interfaith Alliance is Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, a recent past president of Americans United, and a recent past member of the national CBF Coordinating Council.  Dr. David Currie, who leads the National Mainstream Network, of which Mainstream Missouri Baptists was a part, also serves on the board of The Interfaith Alliance, along with two openly lesbian religious-left activists.  Dr. Currie, a significant leader in the strongly pro-CBF Baptist General Convention of Texas, also serves on the board of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs. 

Other interesting MBC moderates attending the January 17, 2002 meeting include: Dr. Doyle Sager, president of the now defunct Mainstream Missouri Baptists;  Harold Phillips, coordinator of the Missouri CBF and long-time staff/member of Second Baptist Church in Liberty;  Barry Pennington, pastor of Susquehanna Baptist Church in Independence and former moderator of the Missouri CBF; Keith Herron, pastor of Holmeswood Baptist Church, a CBF church that has pulled out of the SBC; and Dr. Rudy Pulido, pastor of Southwest Baptist Church in St. Louis.  (Pulido is long-time president of the St. Louis Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.  Dr. Pulido stated in his November 2001 church newsletter that the current conservative, pro-SBC leadership of the MBC represent the “American version of the taliban.”)