Baptist evangelists approve 10-point code of ethics
--By Joni B. Hannigan
ATLANTA, June 15--The Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists, in a
historic vote June 15, tightened their resolve to stand up to scrutiny by approving an
official code of ethics and establishing a council of accountability.
Conference president Jerry Drace, of Humboldt, Tenn., presided at the
organization's annual meeting at the Georgia World Congress Center, prior to the kickoff
of the SBC annual meeting in the Georgia Dome.
The 75 men and women read together 10 statements of affirmation,
pledging, among other things, to report accurate statistics and finances.
The council of accountability will assist in conflict resolution in
situations involving evangelists and churches.
"We are the first body in the Southern Baptist Convention to have
a council of accountability," Drace said. "Our code of ethics will affirm before
the Lord and each other our accountability as evangelists."
Drace initiated the ethics and accountability measures and the creation
of an emergency financial aid fund. He reported that Billy Graham sent his
"unqualified" endorsement of the council.
Part of the package includes a process for credentialing evangelists
through the SBC North American Mission Board. Until adoption of the code of ethics,
evangelists needed only a letter of recommendation from their pastor.
The new provisions ask those seeking membership in the conference to
sign their names to the "Affirmation of Accountability" document. In addition,
those seeking membership in COSBE and an endorsement by the denomination will undergo an
application and interview process coordinated by NAMB.
"This is a means by which we can undergird your ministry and give
you a stamp of approval," said Don Smith, an associate with NAMB's direct evangelism
team. A number of training opportunities and other benefits will be provided at no cost to
the evangelists who undertake the process. Evangelists who have been in service for five
or more years only need to complete part of the credentials process.
Council of accountability members elected to four-year terms, effective
immediately, were Marion Warren, Euless, Texas, chairman; Leon Westerhouse, Birmingham,
Ala., vice chairman; and Buddy Keim, Bixby, Okla., secretary-treasurer. Also serving with
the elected council are COSBE president Drace; pastor-adviser Ken Hall, Northside Baptist
Church, Valdosta, Ga.; and NAMB liaison Smith.
Also during the meeting, the 1998-99 officers, with the exception of
Drace who will serve his second year of a two-year term, were re-elected to the same
positions for the 1999-2000 year. They are: Mike Osborne, Petersburg, Va., vice president;
Pamela Valle, Bedford, Tex., secretary-treasurer; Ken Holland, Franklin, Tenn., music
director; Les Snyder, West Frankfort, Ill., assistant music director; Larry Walker,
Dallas, parliamentarian; and Hall, adviser. Margaret Allen, Edmond, Okla. was elected as
Plaques commemorating 25 years in evangelism were presented to the
following: Allen; Keim; Roger Breland, Mobile, Ala.; Sam Cathey, Gainesville, Ga.; Phil
Glisson, Memphis, Tenn.; Richard Green, St. Louis; and, Benny Jackson, Germantown, Tenn.
The Affirmation of Accountability adopted by the Conference of Southern
Baptist Evangelists reads as follows:
"We, the members of the Conference of Southern Baptist Evangelists
do hereby, before the Lord and each other, affirm the following statements concerning our
accountability as vocational evangelists.
"I. "We confess Jesus Christ, the Son of God, as Lord and
Savior and declare our obedience to the Great Commission, our willingness to advance its
purpose and our availability to fulfill its meaning.
"II. "We align ourselves with the doctrinal position of the
1998 Baptist Faith and Message and reaffirm our belief that the Bible is the infallible
Word of God.
"III. We assert the call of the vocational evangelist is an
authentic New Testament call; thereby, we approach our vocation with the same degree of
preparation and integrity as is demanded of other Christian vocational skills.
"IV. We are accountable to the local church where we are members
by participating in its programs and supporting it with our tithes. We will strive to
conduct our ministries so as to build up the local body of believers by proclaiming the
great doctrines of the Scriptures.
"V. We acknowledge that conviction of sin is a work of the Holy
Spirit and we will extend the invitation with integrity and without coercion or
"VI. Our priorities are: First, to a disciplined devotional life,
insuring our personal spiritual development; second, to our families, demonstrating our
commitment as companions and parents; third, to those with whom we minister giving
evidence of the credibility of our message.
"VII. As servants of God we confirm our duty to live morally
clean, pure, holy lives. What we proclaim in public we are obligated to practice in
"VIII. We declare to be faithful and responsible under God in the
reporting of all our finances and statistics.
"IX. We need and desire to be filled and controlled by the Holy
Spirit in order that we may be thoroughly prepared and thoroughly empowered.
"X. We seek to promote evangelism with integrity through every
segment of our ministries and, in so doing, we expect the same standards from those with
whom we serve."
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