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August 18, 1999






BGCT integrity committee urges caution
___DALLAS--The Committee on Baptist Integrity has commended the staff of the Baptist General Convention of Texas for its quick response to questions and criticisms and encouraged Texas Baptists seeking answers about convention positions to get them from the BGCT, not other sources.
___"This really is a matter of integrity or in some cases the lack of it," said John Wilkerson, a Lubbock layman and chairman of the 13-member committee, which met Aug. 9 in Dallas.
___The committee was created by the BGCT Executive Board to counter what BGCT leaders have called "false" and "misleading" accusations about the BGCT spoken and published by ultra-conservatives in the state and beyond.
___"Information continues to be circulated in Texas insinuating through guilt by association that the BGCT and its leaders do not believe in the authority of Scripture and advocate such things as homosexuality and abortion on demand," Wilkerson said. "These are scurrilous, irresponsible attacks that should be stopped immediately and rejected by Baptists interested in the truth.
___"Anyone or any church with a question about the Baptist General Convention of Texas should have the integrity to seek the answers from the BGCT, not from someone who may have incorrect or slanted information or who may have some other agenda," he advised.
___Over the last few years as questions have arisen over various convention actions and positions taken, the BGCT staff has formed response teams to go to churches on request to answer questions. The committee on Baptist integrity commended the staff for its efforts and encouraged them to continue.
___Churches interested in having one of these teams should contact Ed Schmeltekopf, associate executive director, 333 N. Washington St., Dallas 75246-1798, (214) 828-5320.
___Meanwhile, spread of some of the same information that led to the integrity committee's creation has widened in Texas, with the Aug. 6 mailing of a letter to pastors. The letter, on stationery of Northside Baptist Church in Mineral Wells, is signed by Pastor Scott Copeland.
___Copeland's letter says a new organization called Texas Baptist Laymen's Association has been formed "to share with pastors why there are serious concerns about the growing influence of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship" upon the BGCT.
___A flier accompanying the letter promotes a 16-page document available from Texas Baptist Laymen's Association which purports to link individuals such as BGCT President Russell Dilday, former BGCT President Jerold McBride and Baylor University Chancellor Herbert Reynolds with support for homosexuality.
___These BGCT leaders and others repeatedly have said they do not support homosexuality as a lifestyle. The accusations made by the Texas Baptist Laymen's Association appear to be identical to those in documents distributed by Roger Moran, leader of the Missouri Baptist Laymen's Association and a newly elected member of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee.
___Earlier this summer, CBF Coordinator Daniel Vestal, a former Texas pastor, issued a public appeal to Moran to publicly apologize for spreading "unwarranted attacks."

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