D.J.Horton Puts Spin On Dr. Wayne Dickard

Here is Dr. Wayne Dickard’s article, that was published in the Baptist Courier, concerning the SCBC’s  ‘new hiring policy’:

Hiring non-Baptists ‘wrongheaded decision’

By Wayne Dickard, Northbrook Baptist Church, Boiling Springs

Published April 28, 2009

I was appalled to learn that our Executive Board has changed the rule to allow the executive director-treasurer to hire non-Baptist employees at the South Carolina Baptist Convention.

For years, so many have worked so hard to ensure doctrinal purity in our convention. The Baptist Faith and Message was expected to be embraced and honored by all Baptist employees. Yet now our state convention can hire non-Baptists. How can someone who is not Baptist embrace the Baptist Faith and Message? The Executive Board has weakened our state convention by allowing this non-Baptist hiring practice.

I am proud to be a Southern Baptist and believe anyone earning a paycheck through our convention should be a Baptist as well. I call on the Executive Board to overturn this wrongheaded decision.

Now read D.J. Horton’s spin in response to  Dr. Dickard’s obvious concern:

Dear Fellow Board Members,

At the request of our chairman, David Anderson, I am writing you this note in response to a recent editorial published in The Baptist Courier entitled “Hiring non-Baptist ‘wrongheaded decision,’” by Wayne Dickard.

In this response I wish to accomplish three important tasks.  I want to give you accurate information.  I want to explain the situation and context of the decision made.  Finally, I want to encourage you to share this information with any concerned or confused Baptists within our wonderful state.

Accurate Information

First, the facts are as follows.  During our April meeting, the administrative committee unanimously approved a revised policy pertaining to the hiring of employees of the state convention.  The previous policy requires all Convention employees to be active members of a Southern Baptist Church.  However, as of today, there are at least three individuals within the Baptist building who are devoted employees, committed Christians, and attend churches that are not Southern Baptist.  Since these individuals represent obvious exceptions to the previous policy, the administrative committee was asked to revisit the policy and once and for all clarify how exceptions will be made in the future.

The revised policy that was approved has two parts.  First, employees will now be divided into two categories.  The first category includes anyone who represents or leads South Carolina Baptist Convention causes.  Examples include team leaders, ministry leaders, field representatives, church planters, etc.  Individuals in this category will be held to the same standard as the previous policy.  They must be active members of a Southern Baptist Church.  The second category includes support personnel.  Examples include janitorial staff, maintenance staff, food services staff, etc.  The revised policy for individuals in this category reads:

“While it is strongly encouraged that qualified Southern Baptists be hired to serve the SCBC, it is understood that individuals exist who are qualified for certain support positions and are not members of a Southern Baptist church.  In the event that a candidate is chosen to fill a support position who is not a member of a Southern Baptist church, the person must meet two criteria concerning this matter.  First, he/she must be a devoted Christian displaying the evidence of a personal relationship with Christ.  Second, he/she must be an active member of a local church.”

It is the opinion of the administrative committee that leaders within our Baptist Convention need the freedom to hire the most qualified person to fill these support roles.  We also believe it is important that these individuals be committed Christians devoted to a local church.  The reality is that there are many wonderful people qualified and willing to fill support roles within the Baptist Convention who may not be Southern Baptists.  Therefore, we believe the revised policy represents a common sense approach of balancing who we are with the need to find strong support personnel.

Our committee also gave Jim Austin, James Wright, and Bill Collins the freedom to clarify exactly which positions would fall into categories one and two.  The vast majority of positions are easily divided, but this was decided due to the fact that these men are much more aware of the particular roles each employee plays within the convention.  For example, some positions may appear to be support roles, but individuals serving in these positions may be called on to go out in the field and represent the Convention.  Obviously, any person out representing South Carolina Baptists needs to be a Southern Baptist.

The second part of the policy simply states that if ever an exception is made to the revised policy it must be approved by the executive-director treasurer and the chairmen of the administrative committee.  With the new revisions, exceptions should be rare or non-existent.  Unlike before, however, now there is clear protocol of handling any hiring situation that may arise.

Context and Situation

There are a few important details that I believe you should know.  First, this revision or issue was not something the administrative committee chose to do proactively.  Rather, we were asked to react to a situation where non-Southern Baptist employees already existed.  This is very important to understand.  As said earlier, these men and women are wonderful servants within our organization and it was our desire not to do anything that would compromise their status as valued employees.

Second, some of you may wonder why you did not hear about this decision during our full board meeting.  This valid question deserves an answer.  This decision was one of many the administrative committee made during our subcommittee meeting in April.  It was not seen as a controversial issue and it was unanimously passed.  Like every other sub-committee, the administrative committee has the authority to consider, debate, investigate, and decide on certain issues.  This is how our board functions.  If every decision was brought before the full board for debate or resolution we would accomplish very little.  As chairman of the administrative committee, it is my responsibility to prepare and offer a brief overview of our sub-committee meeting to the entire board.  During my report, I did not discuss this decision for two reasons.  First, there was no disagreement over the general premise of the policy in our committee meeting.  Therefore, it was not then (nor do I feel now) the least bit controversial.  Second, I did not feel it was in the best interest of the full board for me to take a considerable amount of time trying to share background of the decision which would have been vital in order to understand our revisions.  Any member of our board who has chaired a sub-committee will certainly understand that it is impossible to adequately communicate every decision in a brief report to the full board.  As this letter illustrates, I am certainly proud of our committee’s work and will gladly share any detail of the decision making process.

Third, this revised policy is in NO WAY an effort to compromise the “doctrinal purity of our convention.”  During my time on the Executive Board I have not found one member or heard one comment that would even suggest there is some agenda to weaken what so many devoted men and women fought for during the conservative resurgence.  As a conservative young pastor, I am a product of a denomination that chose not to negotiate or water down the basic and vital doctrines of our faith.   To see our efforts as an affront to Southern Baptist identity is simply a misinterpretation of the entire issue.  Likewise, this is exactly why the administrative committee never considered moving away from the established policy of hiring only Southern Baptists to represent us, minister to us, lead us, cast vision, and uphold our precious foundational beliefs as expressed in the Baptist Faith and Message.

Fourth, in my brief time chairing the administrative committee, I have met, listened to, and enjoyed working with some of the brightest men and women on our Board.  Therefore, as their chairman, I find it very unfortunate that our decision was called “wrongheaded.”  Godly men and women serving the state convention as board members do not deserve to be characterized as people who make “wrongheaded” decisions.  In Rev. Dickard’s defense, I am sure his comments were not intended to discourage any member of our board.  I also want to be extremely careful not to dismiss or ignore his concerns over the issue.  As a long time leader in our state, it is obvious that he holds some strong convictions over this matter.  Rev. Dickard, as a devoted pastor and Southern Baptist, has every right to believe that only Southern Baptists should get a paycheck from the South Carolina Baptist Convention.  The administrative committee simply disagrees.  Churches all over our state employee committed men and women to do landscaping, clean restrooms, and perform facility maintenance who are not Southern Baptists.  Why should our state convention not follow this example?  Quite frankly, in a state that is becoming less and less Southern Baptist everyday, we do well to remember that letting good people who are not Southern Baptists play a small part in what we are doing will only help us communicate our true identity.

Finally, both I and the other members of the administrative committee count it a privilege to serve beside the entire Executive Board of our great convention.  Therefore, I will take any further steps deemed necessary by our Board officers in order to bring clarity to this issue.  Rev. Dickard has asked in his editorial for our Board to overturn the decision that was made.  While I do not believe this is necessary, if our Board should decide to revisit, revise, or reverse the decision made by the administrative committee, I stand ready to help in that process.

Final Encouragement

Thank you for the time and energy you have invested in carefully reading this response.  As board members it is our duty to promote the unity of our wonderful convention.  I hope and pray you will use this information to help any person who may express concern of the editorial comments in The Baptist Courier.  We want them to see the administrative committee’s intent and faithfulness in handling this issue.  I commend the members of the administrative committee for their work, insight, and decision.  May our gracious Lord continue to bless South Carolina Baptists.

Your fellow servant,

D.J. Horton

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3 Comments on “D.J.Horton Puts Spin On Dr. Wayne Dickard”

  1. pastorinthewoods Says:

    “Quite frankly, in a state that is becoming less and less Southern Baptist everyday, we do well to remember that letting good people who are not Southern Baptists play a small part in what we are doing will only help us communicate our true identity.”

    I just can’t get over this! Let me try to paraphrase this to help my 9 year old understand it. You see, if we hire non SBC members to clean our toilets and cut our grass it will actually help us to communicate who we really are. (No it still doesn’t make sense)

    Straight up answer – We have an employee(s) that offers quality services that is no longer a SBC member and we need to protect them so we decided to change the policy.

    Now that I can explain!

  2. Horton puts a serious spin on ‘contract’ workers such as landscapers and lawn maintenance crews.

    Dr. Dickard was not addressing ‘contract’ worker . . . he was addressing ‘paid employees’ inside the “Baptist Building.”

    With the economy as bad as it is, I’m sure that there are many members of SBC churches who, currently unemployed, would be more than willing to clean the “Baptist Building’s” toilets. 😛

  3. Good point hottub…as always!

    I hope life is treating you well.

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