July 28, 1999

Hall challenges Texas Baptists
to spend more on human welfare

___By Mark Wingfield
___Managing Editor
___SAN ANGELO--If Texas Baptists are serious about following the biblical mandate to meet human needs, they should adjust Cooperative Program funding priorities to provide more money for human welfare ministries in the state, Ken Hall told supporters of Texas Baptists Committed July 17.
KEN HALL, president of Buckner Baptist Benevolences, challenged Texas Baptists to provide additional support for BGCT-funded agencies and institutions directly related to human welfare.
___Hall, president of Buckner Baptist Benevolences, was one of seven principal speakers at the annual convocation of Texas Baptists Committed, held at the San Angelo Convention Center July 16-17.
___"Texas Baptists' future is inextricably tied to how well we involve ourselves in human welfare ministry and Christian education," Hall told the crowd.
___To support this thesis, he cited the leadership of R.C. Buckner, founder of what is today Buckner Benevolences. As president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas in 1914, he presided over a contemptuous convention with a bouquet of flowers rather than a gavel.
___"He brought a trainload of orphan children from Dallas to Abilene and had them form a circle around the auditorium of arguing Baptists," Hall related. "He asked the convention to focus on the needs of broken lives instead of their controversy. Peace emerged in the denomination."
___Buckner reminded Texas Baptists that what matters most is not what happens in a convention meeting hall but what individuals and churches do in service to the "least of these" as advocated by Jesus.
___Buckner's ministry was founded upon the admonition found in James 1:27, Hall said: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
___"Texas Baptists from the very beginning have been a people who saw God's work being done in a way that resulted in cooperative, collaborative service," Hall said. "I believe the strength of Texas Baptists has been our institutions. In many ways, they are the glue that has held us together in our darkest days."
___On that basis, he challenged Texas Baptists to provide additional support for BGCT-funded agencies and institutions.
___"If we neglect the human welfare institutions, we lose a resource that gives us a reason to exist as a convention," he said. "They tie us together rather than separate us."
___This is even more significant today, Hall said, because few Baptist churches reflect the culture surrounding them.
___"Our church programs are dominated by a philosophy that protects our Baptist comfort zones and neglects the issues that many single parents face," he declared. "Churches throughout Texas state in their mission statements that they exist to take the gospel to everyone, but they struggle at finding ways to make contact with those outside their culture."
___However, BGCT human welfare agencies such as Buckner "are one of the best contact points for legitimate ministry and evangelism to people outside the Baptist norm," he said. Buckner and other BGCT human welfare agencies reach "individuals and families who may never walk through the doors of our churches."
___Despite this, the amount of money Texas Baptists allocate for human welfare ministries has not kept pace with the growth of the denomination, Hall asserted. "In fact, Texas Baptists give almost as much to theological education outside Texas as we do to care for neglected and abused children and families in Texas."
___According to records of the BGCT treasurer's office, the state convention in 1998 sent $3.6 million to child-care ministries in the state and $3.4 million to the five Southern Baptist Convention seminaries located outside Texas.
___A similar pattern is emerging in the current year, with $1.85 million sent to the Texas child-care agencies and $1.78 million sent to the out-of-state seminaries as of the end of June.
___As a further example, Hall cited the BGCT's lack of funding for adoption and maternity services.
___"Baptists have passed numerous resolutions concerning right to life issues," he said. "Repeatedly, we have stated our opposition to abortion. Did you know that until the proposed budget for the year 2000, Texas Baptists have not budgeted any money to support adoption and maternity services?"
___In the 2000 budget, $15,000 is allocated for adoption aid, he reported, but suggested that is not enough.
___"Is this a proper response to people we tell they should not abort their child? What does our stewardship say to a world that often hears us in a condemning spirit?
___"We are called to be servants," Hall said. "We are not called to make more religious types. We negate our witness rather than strengthen the message of a loving God when we spend more on ourselves than we do on people outside our community of faith. Can anything give our witness more validity than serving people in distress?"
Full text of speech

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