Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Oklahoma Church Aligns with Texas Baptist Convention

"364 days a year the Red River is a mile wide and an inch deep. One day a year, when Oklahoma and Texas play football in Dallas, its a mile wide and a mile deep." said Bob Stephenson of NorthHaven Church in Norman as he encouraged his church to align with the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

Traditionally, Baptist churches have respected state lines when they have affiliated with other Baptist churches for fellowship and the work of missions. That was before fundamentalists took over the Southern Baptist Convention and started ostracizing ministers and churches that would not toe their rigid and sterile theological line. Recently, moderate churches have begun leaving their fundamentalist controlled state conventions and crossing state lines to align with moderate state conventions. Texas and Virginia are the two Baptist state conventions that moderates are finding most attractive. Both have made constitutional changes that permit Baptists from other states to fully participate in the life of those conventions. It is part of the reconfigurations that are taking place in Baptist life since the takeover of the SBC.

NorthHaven Church is a new church start, associated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, that has grown to a solidly committed 125 members in less than eighteen months. Last Sunday, on the same day that the church voted to secure its first bank note and begin construction of its first church building, the church overwhelmingly approved a motion to align with the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

NorthHaven's relationship with BGCT builds upon the partnership that the church had with BGCT's WorldConnex Mission Agency in supporting Houston and Charlotte Greenhaw's mission work in Brazil. The Greenhaws left their more than 20 year service with Southern Baptist foreign missions when the SBC's International Mission Board began terminating missionaries who refused to sign the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message statement. First Baptist Church of Norman, NorthHaven and BGCT formed a partnership to support the Greenhaw's work for another eighteen months -- until an indigenous leader was trained to continue the ministries they began.

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