Al Phillips Declares S.C.Baptist Convention,”Free At Last,Free At Last!!!”

May 30, 2007

Dear Brothers,

It hardly seems possible that it has been nearly 20 years since the fateful
Spartanburg convention that led to the beginning of the conservative movement in our state.  Most of the pastors in our state now were not even here in those days and most of the rest of us can barely remember what the atmosphere was like.  Back then SC, like most state conventions, was pretty firmly controlled by moderates.  Conservatives were largely excluded from leadership and from our boards.  Most of our schools were unhealthy and sliding into liberalism.  Those who took stands on the social issues we faced in our culture at state conventions were roundly condemned by the leadership.  I can remember going to my first convention at
Myrtle Beach when I was in my first pastorate right out of seminary.  At that convention, a conservative leader tried to question whether or not abortions were being provided at the
Hospital in
Columbia.  He was roundly booed when he went to the microphone to ask that question and his questions were not answered.  Moderates remained solidly entrenched in the SCBC.  Meanwhile, conservatives were steadily winning back the SBC as the Conservative Resurgence took place nationally. 

In 1988, the Nominating Committee met at White Oak.  That year, a couple of conservative leaders had been appointed to the Committee on Committees and they were able to put some conservatives on the Nominating Committee.  Those conservatives, in turn, nominated some well-known conservative leaders to serve on the SCBC Executive Committee (this is before it became the Executive Board).  The moderate leadership of the state was alarmed and furious and immediately planned a response.  A small group of moderates on the Nominating Committee brought a “minority report” to the convention meeting in
Spartanburg.  Moderates across the state turned out their people, mostly unsuspecting senior adults, and voted narrowly in favor of the minority report.  In effect, this replaced eight conservatives with eight moderate leaders.  At the same time, a conservative pastor who was nominated for president of the state convention was defeated after a smear campaign by moderate leaders who sent letters and launched attacks for weeks leading up the convention.  The treatment was humiliating and led conservatives in the state finally take action.

The following summer, conservatives from across the state gathered in
Columbia and decided to choose a candidate they could all support.  That conservative lost by less than 100 votes.  This was the first serious challenge the moderate leadership in the state had faced.  Conservatives met again the following year and this time elected a conservative layman as president.  We have elected a conservative each year since.  The result has been dramatic.  Our state became the first state convention to reflect the conservative resurgence that was taking place at the SBC level.  Our schools have become solidly conservative with evangelism and missions being at the heart of their mission.  They are all growing and healthy with solid leaders at their helms.  The Executive Board has become conservative as have the major boards and committees of our state.  We have become a leader in the SBC when it comes to stands on key social issues such as the sanctity of life and marriage, stem cell research, gambling and alcohol abuse.  The new conservative leadership created an atmosphere of evangelism and missions and revitalized the participation of conservative churches in the state.  Churches that had drifted toward being independent returned to the fold. 

There is no longer a real liberal threat to our state and its institutions.  For that reason, it is my belief that the conservative meeting we have held each year in
Columbia to recommend conservative candidates is no longer needed.  In fact, not only is it no longer needed, I believe it has become counter-productive.  Other conservative brothers across the state who have chosen not to be part of our meeting or who have not been privy to it have come to see our meeting as divisive and exclusivist.  We could argue with them but to what ends?  What would it accomplish?  SC is now a solidly conservative state.  I believe it is time for us to fade into history, having accomplished our goal of bringing SC back to its conservative, Bible-believing roots. 

We have had more than one conservative run for office in each of the last two years.  We will certainly have that happen more often in the years ahead.  The man who won each of the last two years was as conservative as the man our group agreed to support.  The system we have in place whereby the president appoints a Committee on Committees that nominates a Nominating Committee which nominates trustees for our boards is working.  As long as we elect conservative, Bible-believing presidents, it will continue to work.  Let’s allow it to work.  Let’s see who comes forward each year as candidates to lead our state. Let’s decide as individuals who we are going to support from year to year after we have prayed about it and sought the Lord.  Once we decide who to vote for, let’s do it without campaigning and never question others who do not agree with us or who vote for another conservative candidate. Let’s covenant together that we will not attack other candidates or each other.  Let’s support the people who are elected with all our hearts and pray for them and help them any way we can. Let’s agree to be alert and watch carefully in the years ahead so that we do not slip back into the liberal drift that characterized our state before we stepped forward. 

I want you to know that I am not going to call a meeting this year.  I hope you understand and will agree with me on these matters.  Obviously, you are all free to do as you please but this is my conviction after much prayer and thought.  It has been my great honor to have been part of this brotherhood and this cause.  I love each of you and appreciate all you have done. In the years ahead, no one will remember our names or understand fully what we have accomplished.  That is fine with me.  We know what we did and what it cost us. Above all the Lord knows our hearts and our true motives in all our efforts.  Now, let’s stay focused on the main thing.  Let’s work hard to build our churches and reach people with the Gospel and finish the Great Commission.  I’ll see you at the SBC or in
Florence in November.  God bless and use you.

Till All May Know,

Al Phillips         

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One Comment on “Al Phillips Declares S.C.Baptist Convention,”Free At Last,Free At Last!!!””

  1. […] Al Phillips Declares S.C.Baptist Convention,”Free At Last,Free At Last!!!” […]

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