Let me explain that I thought I would be able to keep up with the blog while on vacation, but I have not been able to make my laptop work where I am so that I could get directly to the website. I’m making this post, but I will not be able to respond until I return home. I will catch up then.
I have tried to answer questions and respond to concerns faithfully through the eight years I have served you as executive director for the BGCT, but I would not claim that I have always done that as quickly or as effectively as I should have. There are times that things may have been misplaced or information fallen out of my sight or memory.
I will say what I sometimes would write to my church members when I was a pastor, “If I have not returned a call, failed to respond to a need in your life, not written in response to a letter, please give me another chance. Let me know, and I will try to make it right.”
Of course, one of the challenges I have to reckon with is that when it comes to dealing with personnel issues, I have some restrictions that I have to be mindful of. Every pastor knows that there are things sometimes said about you, speculation as to your motives, accusations made by some folks that you cannot respond to because you have to protect confidentiality, your pastoral role and the church.
But for now let me simply respond to these matters:
Why did I take Jon Becker to our church starting people to see if there was more help that could be given to his church? I explained this to our executive board and I believe it was referenced in the Baptist Standard, although I do not have the article before me.
First, I had no idea that when he asked for help, it was to help pay a portion of his salary. It was my understanding that the church needed the extra help in order to finish getting the church starts ready to be supported by themselves and the church. I was particularly concerned about the two Hispanic pastors who were pastoring the two Hispanic church starts.
In the eight years I have served Texas Baptists, I have been willing to talk to every Baptist, and almost everyone else, who has asked to see me. I have been asked to help some of our institutions as they have gone through challenging times, churches as they have faced needs, and mission needs in Texas and the world. When I could find a way to help, I have. Sometimes, I have not been able to find a way to provide financial help but we have always prayed for one another.
Our new church starting procedures, which Paul Atkinson has addressed on this blog, would have helped make sure that the church was fully aware of our expectations, and our improved ability to track our funding in a timely fashion would have made our church starting people aware that we had already funded the church mission efforts at the level we had agreed to do so. Sometimes, in the past, our church starters had the flexibility to add some extra dollars to help a church get through a difficult time with the new church starts. Because of the problems we have had, that flexibility has had to be restricted and everything has to pass by the Mission Funding Group made up of non-staff people and directly responsible to the Executive Board.
I have tried to be thoughtful and balanced as I have addressed this with regard to the dear folks at First Baptist Church in Weslaco. The reason I have not used any accusations or absolute statements is because I have not tried to talk to them in detail. My staff has been in touch with them and they have been very concerned and cooperative in trying to bring all of this to a good conclusion.
As I see this, Jon Becker has tried to make it as right as he can with the church. He has apologized for not taking them into his confidence and explaining carefully to the church what his intentions were. He has returned the money to the church that he was paid as extra salary from the BGCT-provided church starting funds. Our church starter was not aware that some of the money sent to the church was being directed by the church financial office to pay part of Jon’s salary. The church and the convention are working out the details so those dollars can be returned to the convention. Those dollars will be used to help start other churches.
It would be good for everyone to pray for Jon and his family and for the FBC of Weslaco as they work through this and try to restore a brother and restore the mission funds. I dare to pray that God will be honored by the way this is handled by the church and all of us.