Southern Baptists want foreign missionaries to endorse newly revised doctrinal statement

Posted: Friday, February 08, 2002

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) -- The Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board is asking workers worldwide to endorse the denomination's revised doctrinal statement that created controversy when it was approved in 2000.

As affirmed by most missionaries when they were originally hired, the ''Baptist Faith and Message'' text did not include opposition to women pastors or the new tenet that wives should ''submit graciously'' to their husbands.

Last year, the board decided endorsements of the pre-2000 version were sufficient. But on Jan. 28, President Jerry Rankin requested that missionaries endorse the 2000 version. Doing so, he said, would put aside ''a continuing and potentially damaging issue'' that was ''creating suspicion.''

The missionary issue is one of several conservative-moderate conflicts within the largest U.S. Protestant denomination. Among other recent developments:

-- Some 100 Missouri congregations launched a new statewide organization apart from the older, more conservative Missouri Baptist Convention.

-- The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, which supports conservative denominational programs opposed by the older Baptist General Convention of Texas, said it now has 1,000 member congregations.

-- The Florida Baptist Convention withdrew a speech invitation to Dellanna O'Brien, who led the denomination's Women's Missionary Union until 1999 but now backs a new group called Global Women, seen by some as its moderate competitor.

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