David R. Currie
A Rancher's Rumblings
October 9, 2007

The past year has been tough for the Baptist General Convention of Texas. Texas Baptists learned that some people who were trusted to lead church-starting efforts in the Valley had been engaged in unethical and immoral practices. In recent weeks, more such revelations have come to light. As one would expect when a lack of trust develops, giving to the BGCT has slightly declined. Thus, the BGCT recently announced some staff layoffs, a process that is always painful, because it means that living, breathing persons – who have house and car payments, as well as other obligations, just as you and I have – face an uncertain future.

I will tell you honestly and forthrightly that these layoffs make me mad. Some of the people being laid off are people whom I know and admire greatly. Frankly, I think that it is simply wrong to do this 1 month before the annual convention meeting, especially before the convention has had an opportunity to approve or reject next year’s budget. I refuse to try and sugarcoat this decision in any form or fashion.

Yet I also know that financial responsibility is important and that, sooner or later, someone was going to have to make these decisions. But I still do not like it.

As Billy Ray Parmer liked to say, “perception is reality.” By that, he meant that people believe what they choose to believe, regardless of the facts.

Well, here are a few facts as I perceive them.

To some extent, the BGCT has lost its way. In the BGCT, we keep saying that we are focusing on helping churches, but we really seem to be going around in circles more than anything else. We do not highlight our institutions to the degree that I believe we should. Appearing to lack a unifying vision, we refuse to start a real missions program out of fear of offending either churches that support SBC missions or churches that support CBF missions. As a result, we have an increasing number of churches that decide to just do their own missions and, therefore, cut their giving to the BGCT.


When I think of our situation in this way, I perceive the BGCT cup to be half–empty – not doing very well.

But then I read the articles that we are printing in our upcoming newsletter and reflect on the situation in those state conventions that are now under Fundamentalist control, unlike the BGCT. We are free of that nightmare because of those of you reading this column, and I thank you, thank you, thank you.

In Missouri, the Fundamentalists took control of the Missouri Baptist Convention. So the traditional Baptists formed the Baptist General Convention of Missouri. Five of their institutions/ministries filed legal papers to be free of the Fundamentalist-controlled Missouri Baptist Convention. It now appears that, after 5 years of litigation, the five institutions may finally win their freedom. Thus, the Fundamentalists will have won the battle but lost the war, because only three institutions will remain involved with the old state convention.

Can you imagine what our situation would be like today if we had lost Texas to Fundamentalism? Our universities, child care ministries, health care ministries, and retirement ministries would be spending millions of dollars to free themselves from the BGCT, which would be controlled by Paige Patterson and Paul Pressler. What a nightmare we avoided in Texas!

In North Carolina, the WMU has left the Fundamentalist-controlled state convention.

Louisiana College – Louisiana’s Baptist university – has named its law school for Judge Paul Pressler. When the Baton Rouge newspaper called me to ask my thoughts on this decision, I said, “Why would you name a law school after a man who has done as much as any Baptist in history to destroy the reputation of Baptists in America and around the world?”


My friends, it could be much worse today in Texas than it is. We have some serious issues that we must address, and we will address them. But we are free Baptists and can handle these issues as free Baptists. Right now, I have what we out here in West Texas call a “good old West Texas Hereford bull mad” about some things that are going on in Texas Baptist life, and you should be mad, too. But we will survive, thrive, and get back on track, because we have a free convention that can handle this in cooperation and come out of it stronger than ever before.

I urge you to come to Amarillo on October 29-30, and celebrate our freedom as Texas Baptists. I expect that we will debate some things with much more passion than we have in the past 10 years. You will hear some strong motions made that may or may not be constructive. Some motions will be based on anger to a degree that they become pointless, but the anger will be understandable.

But there will also be a presidential election – an important election. I urge you to elect Joy Fenner as our new BGCT president. Why? Not because she would be the first woman president of the BGCT but because she is the most qualified person to lead us and help us at this time. In fact, I cannot imagine a more qualified person. Joy knows our convention. She is a strong leader. She has been a missionary and has led our WMU, without which all of us know that Texas Baptists would be very weak.

Finally, I have a personal reason for supporting Joy Fenner for president – my Momma said this is a good idea, and I have trusted this 90-year old woman for 54+ years. I am not about to argue with her now.

The BGCT glass is half-full, and I am excited about filling it up with an exciting future. Please join me.