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President Turner's Report to Missouri Baptist Convention Annual Meeting 2019 — Transcript

Due to a technological glitch in the Missouri Baptist Convention's live feed of the Annual Meeting during President Turner's report to the convention on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019, we are making the full transcript of his report available here.

Good morning! Thank you for the opportunity to share a glimpse of what’s happening at Southwest Baptist University. 

The last fourteen months have been a whirlwind. Much has happened during this past year. 

One year ago, I initiated a planning process for SBU. Last week, the Board of Trustees approved that strategic plan, Shaping our Story Together. Please stop by our booth to pick up a copy of our plan. 

After last year’s annual meeting, theological concerns were raised about faculty in The Courts Redford College of Theology and Ministry. Upon learning these concerns, the board responded swiftly by commissioning the external Peer Assessment Committee led by Dr. David Dockery. As I shared with you last year, we take biblical worldview education seriously. 

As a result of the study, the findings were that the 1921 statement of faith had been inadequately applied through the fabric of the university. In response, the Board established a Statement of Faith work group to revise this statement, making it consistent with Baptist principles. Additional recommendations are forthcoming with more Baptistic expectations of our Redford faculty, along with embedding our Statement of Faith within our university Principles and Expectations document as a condition of employment.  

We have employed Dr. Matt Kimbrough as an Assistant Professor of Theology. He is at our booth today. Please meet him; take the time. I think you’ll find him to be an engaging addition to our faculty. We also are conducting a nationwide search for a new dean for the Redford College—please pray with us as we seek the man the Lord has for us.  

The Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees stated in July an Executive Summary of the Peer Assessment Committee report would be released after the full board reviewed this report. The Summary was released shortly after last week’s Board Meeting. Copies are available at our booth. 

We value our partnership with Missouri Baptists. We readily admit the relationship between our two entities has been strained, and both of our entities have contributed to this distrust. 

1 Corinthians 13:1 says, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”  

There are those more concerned about retaliating against the past than working toward the future. Handbills being handed out, flyers on windshields, social media attacks and whisper campaigns — uninformed and anonymous propaganda — this hinders unity and is not constructive to move the university, our convention or the Kingdom forward. 

While I respect Baptist procedure and Baptist polity, for some reason when we disagree with one another, we default to a legal perspective rather than a biblical one. 

Last Wednesday, we received information from the Nominating Committee that our entire proposed trustee slate was rejected. Since then, we worked with convention leadership to develop a compromise slate, and that slate was rejected. Candidly, I’m disappointed in the process. 

You may be expecting the University to fight this. You might even say it’s foolish not to.

But the story we’re shaping together will not, nor should it, be rooted in conflict. Rather, our story will be rooted in unity, collaboration and love. 

The vision of Southwest Baptist University is to be the exemplar Christian university providing a transformative and holistic educational experience. 

So what does this mean for we as Missouri Baptists? Together, let’s show the world what it means to be a Christian university. When we disagree, let’s disagree with love. Let’s aim to work together in harmony with one another. Let’s be guided by the principles of 1 Corinthians 13. 

We are excited about the days ahead. We are seeking to accomplish our kingdom mission and vision and develop strategies for the long-term health and sustainability of the University with our faith being foundational to who we are.  

We are already on this journey together for SBU to become the exemplar Christian university. 

  • If you are part of the Bearcat family as a current student, employee or alumnus, would you please stand and stay standing?
  • If you have a family member who is an SBU graduate, would you please stand?
  • Maybe you have a friend who is an SBU alum; would you please stand?
  • If you are one of our current trustees or on the proposed slate to be voted on shortly, would you please stand?
  • If you have ever given financial support to SBU — including your giving by CP — please join the rest of us in standing.

Now would you join me in a word of prayer for the Lord’s University as we move forward together. 

Let’s pray.

Our gracious Father, we thank you for your love. I thank you for meeting as brothers and sisters in this room, that when we disagree, we can do it in love. Thank you for your convention and your university. Thank you for our churches, all of us partnering together to advance your kingdom. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

You may be seated.

Thank you for allowing me to share the SBU story. I am confident the next chapter of SBU includes a strong future for us as the exemplar Christian university, providing a transformational and holistic educational experience. May the Lord bless you, and may He bless Southwest Baptist University.