Moderate Baptists in Texas create fund for missionaries, angering conservative leaders

Posted: Friday, March 08, 2002

DALLAS (AP) -- Moderate Baptists in Texas have pledged $1 million to help Southern Baptist missionaries who decline to endorse a conservative doctrinal statement they are being asked to approve.

The moderate Baptist General Convention of Texas said it created the fund after hearing from more than 60 missionary families who said they could not sign the statement, which opposes women pastors and says wives should ''submit graciously'' to their husbands. The doctrinal statement also created controversy when it was initially approved in 2000.

Some missionaries feared they would lose their jobs if they resisted, the Texas group said Feb. 26.

''The call to stand by those who are being asked to put either calling or conscience at risk cannot go unanswered,'' said Charles Wade, executive director of the Texas convention. ''We must provide places of refuge and renewal, places of warm acceptance and dependable support, places where dreams of serving God can become reality again.''

Conservative leaders of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board asked missionaries in January to affirm the ''Baptist Faith and Message.''

By doing so, missionaries would put aside ''a continuing and potentially damaging issue'' that was ''creating suspicion,'' mission board president Jerry Rankin said at the time.

Larry Cox, a mission board vice president, said the Texas moderates were ''manufacturing a crisis where none exists.''

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